Holden Captiva 5

Holden Captiva 5

EFTM was recently given a two week opportunity to jump behind the wheel of Holden’s SUV siblings the Captiva 5 and the Captiva 7. For several years now Holden has done well with this particular crossover SUV, which in international markets is sold as the Opel Antara and the Chevrolet Captiva.

Built in Korea, both variants share similar underpinnings and powertrains but differ cosmetically with unique interiors and alternate exterior styling, with the 7 being slightly longer and taller.

In 2012, Holden gave the Captiva its traditional Series II treatment. Both cars received some tasteful styling updates and marginal improvements in fuel efficiency. Although during our 1300km stint behind both wheels the official figures, as is often the case with most manufacturers, proved dubious.

The most significant advancement is the petrol engine’s fuel flex ability. The 2.4L (four cylinder) and 3.0L (V6) can now drink the full spectrum of fuel available at the pump, including E85, E10 unleaded and premium.

The Captiva 5

Week one saw EFTM paired up with a 2.4L 2WD petrol Captiva 5 matched with the 6 speed manual. With 123kW and an uninspiring 230 of torque, the 5 is a little too plump for the quiet and refined power plant. A heavy right foot is virtually compulsory to extract enough performance to get the 1800kg plus frame up to speed.

Holden Captiva 7

Holden Captiva 7

On the open road, 5th and the almost superfluous 6th gear ratios baulk at even the slightest gradient. The standard cruise control is constantly interrupted by the need to shuffle down a few cogs just to maintain the speed limit. Throw in some real up and down stuff and it boarders on farcical. Although I must say the need for keeping up the revs does produce a pleasant sounding exhaust note. Personally I found this to be the Captiva 5’s undoing which is a shame because overall the GM creation is quite satisfactory.

Holden Captiva 5

Holden Captiva 5

Handling is okay, although as with most SUVs you do feel a little tall as a result of the higher centre of gravity. Cornering beyond normal conservative driving will quickly produce tyre screech and a general feeling of unease from the chassis. A suite of driver assistance wizardry will keep things on the straight and narrow if called upon, however.

The cabin is a quiet and pleasant environment. Three round air vents dominate the top of the centre stack with the entertainment and electronic climate control systems falling beneath. No complaints here – it’s just a simple, user-friendly presentation framed by some convincing aluminium looking trim. An electronic handbreak button frees up enough space for two drink holders, which can be concealed to reveal a deep bin handy for extra storage. This feature is also available in the 7.

Unfortunately just above this lies the prehistoric driver information display. The orange monochrome screen is like an unannounced visitor, it presents the trip computer, radio station and other information. What’s worse is when viewed through some brands of polarised sunglasses the screen can’t be seen at all as the orange hue seems to be filtered out.

Worse still is the complete absence of Bluetooth or even a USB and AUX jack. With the illegality of driving with a mobile phone in hand now firmly entrenched, how does that happen?

Front and rear auto up and down windows is always a nice addition, surprisingly little features like this and others like front parking sensors are lacking in its more expensive rival the Captiva 7. Thankfully the 7 picks up the slack with standard Bluetooth with streaming and AUX input jack.

When it comes to the aircon, we’re going to give our test vehicle a benefit of the doubt ruling here. Our week with the Captiva 5 occured during Sydney’s summer heat wave, with temperatures hitting 40 degrees. Frustratingly, the cooling failed epically, instead blowing basically hot air. A planned trip to Bathurst saw us abandon the virtually new Captiva 5 (with only 5000km on the clock) at home and take our trusty Camry Hybrid. This was duly reported to Holden upon return, thankfully the Captiva 7 had no such problem.

The interior of the Holden Captiva 7

The interior of the Holden Captiva 7

The manually adjusted cloth seats are disappointing, lacking lateral support. The only upside is the lack of leather which would see occupants slip around like a game of corners on a school bus. In the back there’s plenty of space with decent leg room a high roofline and a generous boot with cargo blind. 60:40 fold rear seats add further cargo capacity as required.

Externally the Captiva 5 has a strong Euro influence due to its Opel roots with curved flowing lines. It’s not a bad looker but the 7 is a better sort. It’s also suffering from age, the basic design has been around for over six years.

Ideally we were able to experience the 5 for a solid week then immediately jump into the 7 for the 2nd week. I actually enjoyed my time in the 7 but again little frustrations were abundant.

The Captiva 7

Straight away the Captiva 7 feels significantly more substantial, not that it completely dwarfed the 5. Length wise it measures up at 4673mm juxtaposed to the 5’s 4596mm with a slight hight advantage of just 10mm.

Holden Captiva 7

Holden Captiva 7

Our test car was fitted with the 190kW, 3.0L SIDI Direct Injection V6 engine paired to a 6 speed auto. Many Australians will be instantly familiar with this unit – its been flogged from the Commodore. Obviously it propels the Captiva 7 along with a little more gusto but again it feels underdone in this car.

It’s one thing for both vehicles to suffer from sluggish engines but just plain disappointing when combined with fuel figures as tested of 10.7L / 100km for the 5 and 12.8 for the 7. Holden claim 9 and 10.1 respectivel. There is a 2.2 diesel option available with claimed figures in the 8’s, going by some reports its the pick of the bunch.

The auto tries hard but becomes easily confused and agitated when put under pressure. Spoon feed it and all is forgotten.

In its CX guise, satellite navigation is omitted, it’s standard on the LX which also adds leather seats. In its place is a quirky blue multi function display which is a far more pleasing proposition then the ancient artefact found in the 5. There’s a centrally mounted oval shaped digital clock and even a compass. Remarkably it permanently indicated I was heading NW? The leather bolstered cloth seats are similar to the 5 but about five times harder.

Riding on 18″ attractive 5 spoke alloy wheels, the 7 rides flatter and more composed then the 5. It also adds “self levelling rear suspension” which adapts to different loads. If anything the larger model is so planted its ride can become excessively harsh. Speed humps feel twice as large and typical Australian roads that leave corrugated iron for dead are amplified way more than they should be. AWD adds extra traction in the wet and on dirt, and the drive can be split up to 50:50 to all 4 wheels if required. Of course this is barely even a soft off roader, but a quick spin along a slightly wet sandy back road proved the Captiva is more competent then a normal passenger car.

Hill start assist and a descent control system feature on both models. Both are handy but the latter would rarely be required. Out of curiosity I utilised it on a steep down ramp in a shopping centre car park. Push the dash mounted button and place your faith in the onboard computer as it applies the brakes to maintain a predetermined speed while you simply steer.

I’m a fan of the face-lifted Series II Captiva 7 looks. The front end features squared off headlights with larger air intake surrounded in a mesh look facade with incorporated fog lights. The bulging bonnet and waistline crease that runs down its profile ads a further sophisticated look. Clear lens treatment is given to the turn singles embedded into the power side heated mirrors, as are the rear tail lights.

The rear end is probably not its best asset and not worth flaunting, the twin chrome tipped pipes look a little awkward. A handy feature is the ability to open separately the glass window in the rear tailgate. An additional button on the remote key will unlock the hinged glass independent of all the doors and tailgate.

Of course as the name suggests the Captiva 7 is able to transport seven passengers as required. The 3rd row seats fold flat when not in use but can be raised to carry another two. Although I must warn that if you have a large tribe the 2nd row will become the new “shot gun” it’s pretty tight. Also the absence of rear ventilation even for the 2nd tier would make life hellish way back in the rear. You should expect zero cargo area if you invest in a Captiva to carry seven full time.

The Captiva range are selling like air conditioners at the moment, back in August the Captiva 7 was the highest selling SUV in its segment. With armageddon seemingly on the horizon for the Commodore would it not make sense for Holden to perhaps invest in an Aussie made SUV replacement? It’s what the fans seem to want.


There is very little reason to buy the Captiva 5 apart from the price. If you want an SUV and Holden is your choice, then the Captiva 7 ticks all the boxes.  You’re getting the better engine, more space and the option for the extra two seats if you’re one of those people who seems to get lumped with picking up other people’s kids from school.

Model’s tested:
Captiva 5 – 2.4L Petrol, 6 speed 2WD Manual
Captiva 7 CX – 3.0L V6 Petrol, AWD 6 speed Auto

Captiva 5 petrol manual – $27,990
Captiva 5 petrol automatic – $29,990
Captiva 5 diesel automatic – $33,990
Captiva 7 SX petrol automatic – $32,490
Captiva 7 SX diesel automatic – $35,490
Captiva 7 CX petrol automatic – $38,490
Captiva 7 CX diesel automatic – $39,490
Captiva 7 LX petrol automatic – $42,490
Captiva 7 LX diesel automatic – $43,490