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Chevrolet Captiva review (2011 onwards)
What - Chevrolet Captiva
Where - Austria
Price - from £21,995
Available - May
Key rivals -Hyundai Santa-Fe, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Freelander
GALLERY: Chevrolet Captiva
Read a Chevrolet review
Summary - Chevrolet's new Captiva majors on practicality, style and value for money
We like - versatile and spacious cabin; strong engines; smooth ride
We don't like - manual gearchange; higher-spec cars expensive; auto gearbox, seven seats and four-wheel-drive not available with entry-level diesel
Here is a Chevy that you won't just drive to the levy but also the Alps, across the tundra and over the dunes. Its name is the Captiva and it is the new version of Chevrolet's four-wheel-drive SUV.
Chevrolet is famous for many things, from the brawny Corvette to the beefy Camaro, but you probably didn't know that Chevrolet claims it invented the SUV back in 1935 with the Chevrolet Suburban Carryall.
Fast forward 76 years and we're in Austria testing the latest go-anywhere Chevrolet on the sort of snow-covered mountain roads where ski-loving Brits head in their posh off-roaders.
Question is, should they give this new Captiva a look when the time comes to buy another versatile car that's as at home on the ski run as it is on the school run? Let's find out...
Thankfully common sense prevailed and Chevrolet UK ditched the 2.4 and 3.0-litre petrols, offering the 2.2-litre turbodiesel only.
But the choice isn't as limited as you think. You can choose from 163hp or 184hp power outputs. The 163hp model is only available with the entry-level LS trim and in front-wheel-drive at £21,995.
The performance is adequate from this six-speed manual-only version and it isn't much slower to accelerate up to the speed limit. However, it is less refined and not as flexible as the 184hp car, producing more engine noise under acceleration and requiring a downchange to climb hills.
The 184hp motor will be the one to go for if you can afford it. The range starts at £27,695 and, in addition to the extra flexibility and smoother performance, the additional power is an advantage when the car is loaded with people and bags, plus you get four-wheel-drive as standard.
You can also spec the automatic transmission with this version, which hampers the performance but means you don't have to contend with the notchy six-speed manual.
Ride and handling
Does the Chevrolet Captiva live up to the 'S' in its Sports Utility Vehicle billing? Not really, is the short answer.
It handles well, has the grip of an arm wrestler, and when driven smoothly doesn't roll too much, but I'd be exaggerating if I said it was fun to drive.
The steering isn't sharp and lacks feedback, and if you tackle a corner too quickly, the car will lean over on to its suspension creating a roly-poly experience for passengers.
However, it rides very well and does a competent job of shielding the cabin from lumps and bumps, and in normal driving conditions 100% of the power is directed to the front wheels, the rears only stepping in when they sense a loss of traction, for a smoother drive.
If you decide to tackle the slopes in a Captiva, a press of a button will enable the hill descent control, which works superbly by automatically slowing the car without the driver touching the brake pedal. Pulling away on gradients is equally relaxed, with a hill start system that prevents the car from rolling back.
Inside, the Captiva is vast. You can even have a seven seat version with seats that fold out of the boot floor, though these are best for kids only.
The boot offers up to 1,577-litres of luggage space with the second and third row folded flat. Up front, the cabin feels airy and spacious, the electronic parking brake freeing up valuable floor space and lending a premium feel to the car.
The quality of the fixtures and fittings is equally remarkable. The materials feel soft, the buttons sturdy and the plastics generally shine-free.
Kit levels are superb and you get many toys as standard you would normally pay extra for on an Audi, BMW or Mercedes.
All cars get ESP, Bluetooth and power-folding mirrors, electric driver's seat, air-con and 17-inch alloys, while the higher trim levels offer seven seats and four-wheel-drive as standard, as well as climate control and parking sensors. Leather trim, sat-nav and heated seats are fitted to the flagship model.
Economy and safety
Buy the more powerful seven-seat Captiva with four-wheel-drive and a manual gearbox and you can expect to see 42.8mpg between visits to the pumps.
Choose the automatic and this drops to 36.6mpg while the lower-powered, front-wheel-drive version achieves the best economy of the lot with 44.1mpg.
Carbon emissions are good across the range starting at 170g/km and rising to 203g/km. This means company car driver tax bills start at £94 a month for a 20% tax payer in the cheapest car and rise to £333 a month for a 40% tax payer in the most expensive Captiva.
The MSN Cars' verdict
To get into the right Captiva, that is a seven-seater with four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox, you'll need to spend £29,245.
That's a lot for a car that doesn't carry a premium badge. However, compared to rivals, it offers great value for money with a large cabin, seating for seven, go-anywhere possibilities and a raft of options that would set you back thousands on something German.
|Need to know|
|Engines (petrol)||n/a in UK|
|Power (hp)||163 & 184hp|
|Torque (lb/ft)||258 - 295|
|0-62mph (secs)||9.3 - 9.8|
|Top speed (mph)||117 - 124|
|MPG combined||36.6 - 44.1|
|CO2/tax||170 - 203 / 26-32%|
|Ride & handling||***|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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