Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the 2014 Holden Captiva 5.
Holden has been applying the label “Series II” quite liberally over recent years.
It has certainly been busy applying it recent times, launching improved, second-print runs of its Commodore, Ute and Caprice mainstays, and Cruze small car. Now, it is the turn of the Holden Captiva. Holden has tinkered with its soft-roader during its five-year history but the Series II, with revised styling, freshened cabins, new engines and other changes, amounts to its first serious update.
It now has 2.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, and a good list of standard features, including six-stack CD/MP3 audio, climate control, auto headlights and leather-shod steering wheel.
In the area safety it is stronger, with the addition of side air-bags, bringing the count to a class-competitive six. Stability control, hill-start and downhill assist and parking sensors are also standard. It has parking sensors, but a rear view camera would have been a good addition.
There’s little to complain about for urban operation, where it delivers decent response, good flexibility and relaxed highway cruising.
An unobtrusive six-speed auto and low noise levels contribute to the low-fuss vibe. But it doesn’t take much to expose a general lack of low-rev go on the open road. It needs to be worked hard to stay on the boil in hilly going and the not quite top of the class automatic gear box doesn’t help.
Holden has re-tuned the Captiva’s chassis and it is certainly not embarrassed through the bends. The steering is well weighted and linear and it tracks through corners with an obedient, confident and predictable balance.
The same can’t be said for passenger comfort. Its ride is decidedly a little edgy over sharp, urban imperfections, remains fidgety on the open road and tyre noise can be quite intrusive on some coarse-chip surfaces.
But it shrugs off bigger bumps without fuss and handles unsealed roads quite well. The traditional handbrake has been replaced by an electronic one, freeing up space for a cavernous new centre-console bin resplendent with handy retractable cup holders. Storage, already good, is now even better.
Elsewhere, it maintains well established features of the previous model. That’s no bad thing in practical terms; the front seats are firm and a bit flat but deliver good comfort and there is not much wrong with the back seat, even if really tall passengers will find leg space a bit tight.
The boot has a competitive 430-litre capacity (865 litres with the back seats folded) and handy bins and tie-downs. There’s also a full-size spare.
But despite nicer design and ambiance than its Captiva 7 sibling, the 5’s cabin still feels a bit less than really impressive. The steering wheel is bulky and capped with tacky plastic, the indicator stalks feel flimsy, and the switch-gear and trip computer aren’t too user-friendly.
While it is not quite up with its competitors in this segment of the market, it does offer another option in this crowded field of SUV’s and provides a package that provides value at its price setting.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.4 litre petrol producing 123kW and 230Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Origin: South Korea
Price: From $25,990