May 2011

Chevrolet Captiva 2.2 VCDi LTZ

New split level grille is most obvious change

May 2011

picture of car from the frontpicture of car from the rearpicture of car interiorpicture of car in detail

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5 stars


  • Attractively styled and boasts plenty of kerb appeal
  • Third row of seats conveniently folds down into the boot floor when not in use
  • Highest output diesel engine is strong, refined and relatively frugal too
  • Comfortable and practical interior makes the Captive ideal for a growing family


  • Interior tweaks help but occasional cheap finish
  • Manual gearbox sometimes awkward at low speeds
  • Turning circle is relatively large
  • Badge may still put some buyers off

Chevrolet has made a name for itself in the UK by carving out a commitment to high-value products, even extending as far as a mid-sized SUV in the shape of the Captiva back in 2006. Now the Captiva has undergone a mid-life transformation with a series of enhancements to maintain its competitive edge.

The original Captiva followed the value SUV template to the letter, and in doing so gave buyers yet another choice in an already-crowded marketplace. But the crucial elements for success were in place, namely a practical and spacious cabin, substantial on-road presence and good equipment levels. The facelifted version aims to improve in all those key areas.

The exterior has been enhanced with a more pronounced grille and refreshed head and tail lamps, while fatter wheelarches have bigger wheel options within them. There are changes on the inside too, with upgraded materials and a resculpted dashboard. As well as tweaks to the standard specification, all models received an upgraded audio system.

Perhaps of greater importance is the new 2.2-litre diesel engine, available in two outputs and with two transmission options. Suspension settings have also been revised to take full advantage of the improved performance, delivered through the standard-fit four-wheel drive system.

In practice the Captiva acquits itself well. For many the car's practical attributes will always outweigh the driving dynamics, but it's good to know that the high-rise Chevrolet feels stable and is largely vice-free. The uprated diesel engine is a useful step forward and gives a significant dynamic boost.

Our verdict on the Chevrolet Captiva 2.2 VCDi LTZ

It's more of the same from the Captiva, with better dynamics, looks and specification. Anyone with more specific needs, such as a premium badge or a superior driving experience may be disappointed, but the majority of buyers want the key SUV characteristics of space, versatility and presence. The Captiva delivers those with a good value price tag to match.


The new diesel engine helps not only performance but also fuel efficiency: useful gains over the outgoing model in fuel consumption add to its desirability, and at least put it on a par with similarly-sized rivals.

Space and practicality

LT and LTZ Captivas get the seven-seat layout as standard and they work well, although the set-up is really only suitable for children. Folding the seats is easy, and when not in use they become part of the boot floor, which itself is conveniently flat and wide, with the load lip at a good height. In the cabin there are plenty of storage options: door pockets, glove box and centre console.

Controls and display

A few choice updates have helped the Captiva deliver an improved driving environment. Higher-specification models now have a clear sat-nav screen at the top of the dashboard, while the switches throughout are well-sized and clear. Thankfully there is also no need for a rotary controller to manage a multitude of functions - everything is either touch screen or has its own button.


With enough room in the cabin for a growing family, space is rarely an issue as you'll never bang elbows with other occupants. Overall, the car's seats - fore and aft - are comfortable and supportive, although the fabric versions tend to grip you better. Refinement is also good, with the engines only intruding when worked hard.

Car security

The usual immobiliser and remote central locking combination is present here, and is likely to be more than good enough. A sturdy retractable cover hides the boot's contents from preying eyes, while the audio unit is a unique fit item for the Captiva.

Car safety

There's no shortage of airbags in the Captiva, plus the usual array of clever electronics to keep you out of trouble. Don't forget the car's four-wheel drive system, which is as much use in a muddy field as it is on a streaming wet road.

Driver appeal

Everyday driving is the Captiva is a cinch, despite its size. The easy torque of the diesel engine is perfectly suited to the automatic gearbox, and the high driving position and controlled ride add up to effortless progress. In the unlikely event that you need to press on the Captiva is game enough, powered along handsomely by the additional shove from the top-spec diesel. The suspension changes have been modest but the result is more control and composure in all conditions.

Family car appeal

With a wide and spacious boot plus room for up to seven people in the cabin, the Captiva promises much. In reality it delivers on many levels; the cabin space and its durable nature will be a plus for active families, while the four-wheel drive on all but the entry-level model turns the Captiva into a workhorse capable of towing trailers or caravans and traversing muddy campsites with ease.

First car appeal

The Captiva is easy enough for a novice to drive although its size may be a little intimidating, but more unlikely is that a new driver will have sufficient income to spend on one

Quality and image

The value tag and quality rarely come together in the minds of buyers, but a few minutes inside the Captiva will dispel the notion that cheap means cheerful. Aside from premium opposition, the cabin feels of respectable quality and certainly sturdy enough to cope with family life. Its image also benefits from the American heritage, and that tough image sits well with the typical SUV characteristics.


The rear door aperture is, predictably smaller than the front, but children shouldn't have a problem. Gaining access to the third row of seats (where fitted) requires you to be flexible - the location is again better suited to children. At the rear, the tailgate window opens independently, and the wide boot floor makes loading and unloading luggage easy.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The upgraded audio system on the latest Captiva range includes an auxiliary input and Bluetooth connectivity as standard, and careful work to reposition audio speakers and reduce cabin noise has resulted in significant sound improvements to please audiophiles.

Colours and trim

Bright metallic colours work well on the Captiva - the overall look is one that should attract and please younger buyers. Fit and finish of external panels is very good. Inside, cabin plastics are predominantly black, but there are flashes of brightwork to lift the ambience.


While a big car, the Captiva's steering is light and offers a generous amount of power assistance. The car's mirrors are pleasingly large, and thanks to the lofty driving position forward visibility is good. LTZ versions get a reversing camera as standard for the ultimate in trouble-free parking.

Spare wheel

Spare wheel located under boot floor.

Range information

Diesel engine option - 2.2-litre (163hp and 184hp). Default transmission is a six-speed manual gearbox, with a six-speed auto available for the high power diesel variant. Trim levels: LS (five-seat), LT and LTZ with seven seats as standard.

Alternative cars

Nissan X-Trail More of a proper off-roader though capable and comfortable on-road

Honda CR-V Typical Honda approach means good build and road manners

Hyundai Santa Fe High value but good quality and decent driving experience

Kia Sorento Stylish Sorento is an affordable alternative to the usual European models

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