2017 Holden Captiva Review

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2016 Holden Captiva LT

Priced From $26,490Information

Overall Rating


3 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

3 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

3 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

3 out of 5 stars


3 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProLow price for a seven-seater; clever interior.

  2. ConNo rear air-con vents; firm ride.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Holden Captiva 7 LS (FWD) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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Holden’s Captiva is a big SUV that is priced near many mid-sizers, which places it among the least costly wagons that offer seven seats. It has effective turbo-diesel and V6 petrol engines, a high level of standard equipment, and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

What might bug me?

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Complaints from the rear seats about temperatures. There are no air-conditioning or heating vents for the second or third rows of seats.

In a seven-seat Captiva, perhaps concerns about safety for the rearmost passengers. Head-level curtain airbags protect passengers in front and second-row seats from side impacts, but do not cover those in the third row.

Driving after a puncture. A spare tyre is only optional, and it is narrower than the other tyres on the car – which limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h if you need to use it. If you do not option the spare tyre there is a standard repair kit.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door wagon only. Most seat seven, but the least costly of the LS variants seat only five.

The Captiva comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions.

It is classified as a large SUV, lower priced.

What features do all Captivas have?

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A 7.0-inch touchscreen, with connectivity for mobile devices via Bluetooth. Holden’s MyLink, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which allows you to operate your phone and use its apps from the touchscreen). Steering wheel and voice controls for your phone and the sound system.

Cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Headlamps which switch on automatically at night or in tunnels. Satellite navigation.

Dual-zone air-conditioning (which allows the driver and front passenger to set temperatures independently). Windows tinted to reduce sun penetration. Daytime running lamps illuminated by power-efficient LEDs, which make you more visible to other drivers.

Smart key entry, which allows you to unlock the car by pressing a button on any door provided that the key is nearby (for example, in a pocket or bag).

A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.

Aluminium alloy wheels (they are lighter and more stylish than steel wheels).

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; side airbags to protect the upper bodies of the two front occupants; and curtain airbags running alongside the front and middle-row seats (only), which protect heads from side impacts.

Electronic stability control, which can prevent or help control a skid. All new cars must have this feature.

The Captiva is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine is the most fuel-efficient, consuming as little as 8.5 litres/100km in official tests (urban and country combined) with its mandatory auto gearbox.

For power, the diesel occupies the middle ground between the hard-pressed 2.4-litre petrol engine that is the only alternative in the Captiva LS, and the more sophisticated 3.0-litre petrol V6 available in the Captiva LT and LTZ.

One reason you might not get the diesel in an LS is that it costs more to purchase and to service than the 2.4 petrol. But it is better to drive.

A reason why you might not get the diesel in an LT or LTZ is that it also costs more to purchase than the petrol V6 available in those models, which arguably is a better powerplant for the Captiva.

The V6 is smoother and more powerful. But it uses about 25 per cent more fuel than the diesel even in the official tests, and the difference will be greater if you access its extra acceleration around town, in hilly terrain or when towing.

A V6 Captiva LT AWD averaged 14.4 litres/100km in a real-world comparison of seven-seat SUVs conducted for the October 2016 issue of Wheels magazine, making it the least fuel-efficient of 10 cars reviewed.

The petrol Captiva LS is available in front-wheel drive, five-seat form with a six-speed manual gearbox. A six-speed auto gearbox is optional.

All other Captivas come only with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Moving from the least costly, five-seat, LS version to the seven-seat LS brings you automatic transmission as standard and the option of choosing the diesel engine.

Spending more again for a Captiva LT brings you seven seats as standard, all-wheel drive, and the option of specifying the V6 engine.

Wheel diameter on the LT rises from 17 to 18 inches, and the tyres have shorter sidewalls and arguably look sportier. Side-steps make it easier to climb on board. A sunroof can be added for no cost, and roof-rails are fitted (you need the optional racks as well if you want to carry anything on them).

The most expensive Captiva, the LTZ, has 19-inch wheels fitted with tyres of an even lower profile. Seats are trimmed in leather, with the front seats heated and the driver’s seat power adjustable. Parking sensors have been added at the front. The LTZ also gains two active safety features: a blind spot alert, which warns of other vehicles alongside out of view, and a rear cross-traffic alert, which helps you avoid carpark bingles.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The ride in an LTZ is slightly less comfortable than in other models because of its big, low-profile tyres. Those tyres could also cost more to replace.

White and red are the only standard colours, with the other six costing extra.

How comfortable is the Captiva?

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Some drivers might prefer bigger numerals on the speedo and tacho, but most controls in the cabin are easy to reach and use.

While most new cars have audio controls on the steering wheel, the Captiva also has ventilation controls, further reducing the need to take a hand off the wheel.

Up front the seats don’t have much lateral support, which can have you sliding around through corners. But the seat bases are quite long, for decent under-thigh support.

The large-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel feels unwieldy at first and yet the steering is still quite heavy around town and when parking. However, the weighting helps it feel responsive and reassuring at freeway speeds.

Firm suspension on the Captiva means you feel bumps more than you would in most other vehicles of this size and weight.

Grumbling from the four-cylinder diesel engine when it is idling intrudes into the cabin, which is a quiet place otherwise. The four-cylinder petrol is smoother but gets noisy when driven hard. The V6 is the smoothest engine of the three.

What about safety in a Holden Captiva?

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Six airbags and stability control contribute to good standard safety levels. The curtain airbags protecting the heads of front and rear passengers do not cover those in the third row of seats, however.

Auto-on headlights and a reversing camera improve active safety levels on all models.

Automatic emergency braking is not available on the Captiva. However, the Captiva LTZ has a blind-spot alert, which warns you if another car is alongside when you prepare to change lanes. And its rear cross-traffic alert adds some safety when backing out of parking spaces, by letting you know if a car is about to cross behind you.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated front-drive versions (only) of the Captiva at its maximum five stars for safety in December 2011, when it was named the Captiva 7.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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The four-cylinder petrol engine is short on power for propelling such a big car. You may find yourself pushing the accelerator pedal a long way just to keep up with traffic in a petrol Captiva LS. That can also keep the transmission busy, as it changes gears frequently in an attempt to maximise acceleration.

Throw in high noise levels when you drive it hard and this is the least satisfying engine on offer.

The diesel engine, available in all seven-seat Captivas, feels noticeably stronger when climbing hills or carrying a full load. It takes a moment or two to develop power when you accelerate from a standstill.

The V6 petrol available in a Captiva LT or LTZ feels more enthusiastic and delivers the best performance. Nevertheless it is short on grunt when you first press the accelerator at cruising speeds, needing to be spun fairly hard before satisfying acceleration arrives.

The bigger tyre and wheel combinations provide more grip and cornering accuracy. However in all versions there is mild kickback from the steering if you encounter bumps in the middle of a corner.

All-wheel drive versions of the Captiva are light-duty off-roaders designed mainly for on-road use. Should you venture off road without the optional spare tyre, you could be left with a puncture that is not repairable with the supplied repair kit.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The middle row seats offer plenty of head and leg room for adults. And having an almost flat floor and wide centre seat means getting three adults across the rear is not the compromise it can be in some other big SUVs.

In the rearmost seats, space is harder to find – particularly for big feet, which don’t fit easily under the seat in front. Head room here is better suited to children than adults, although knee room isn’t too bad, albeit with adult knees forced quite high due to the raised rear floor.

As with many big SUVs, the three child-seat anchor points are set up for the middle row of seats. That makes it hard to get people into the third row of seats when the child seats are fitted.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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With all seven seats in use, the remaining load space is tiny: expect to fit a couple of soft overnight bags.

With the third row seats folded, the boot floor is fairly high but broad and long, making it good for prams or plenty of luggage.

The floor also matches up with folded middle row seats to create a long, flat cargo area behind the front seats if required.

The middle row seats split-fold 60/40 while the back row is 50/50. Folding the seats is easy, too, with each requiring the pull of a single lever.

You can also fold the middle-row seat-bases up against the backs of the front seats, making a deep well ideal for, say, sliding small bikes across the car.

The V6 petrol versions are rated to tow the biggest trailers, with claimed capacity of 2000kg. Diesel engines drop to 1700kg, while the four-cylinder petrol model is rated at only 1500kg.

Where is the Captiva made?

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All Captivas are produced in South Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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More grunt with less thirst, from a turbocharged petrol engine. The Mazda CX-9 offers this, for example.

Automatic emergency braking, which can apply the brakes if the car detects a looming obstacle ahead – typically another car that has slowed suddenly. This is standard on the CX-9, and available on the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, and Toyota Kluger, for example.

A power-operated tailgate, which can be raised or lowered with the press of a button. This is available on the CX-9, Kluger, Santa Fe and Sorento, for example.

Curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seats, as fitted to the Kluger, CX-9, and Nissan Pathfinder, for example.

Other cars you might consider include the Dodge Journey and Fiat Freemont. The Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander are smaller (they’re classified as mid-sized SUVs) but they have seven-seat versions that are near Captiva prices.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The Captiva LS represents seven-seat value and does without the additional weight of the four-wheel drive system. But we would opt for the diesel engine, which is more fuel efficient and nicer to drive than the four-cylinder petrol.

Are there plans to update the Captiva soon?

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The Captiva arrived in 2006, and became the Captiva 7 with a major update in 2011 (distinguishing it from the smaller Captiva 5). There have been minor tweaks every 12-18 months, including some some changes to equipment levels early in 2015.

In January 2016, Holden revived the original Captiva nameplate, dropping the 7 from the name and the Captiva 5 from the range. The refreshed Captiva gained a restyled nose, a 7.0-inch touchscreen on all variants, and better device connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warnings were added to the LTZ.

The Captiva is not likely to receive a significant update before Holden replaces it with two all-new SUVs. A five-seater named the Equinox is expected late in 2017, while a seven-seater called the Arcadia is due in 2018.