|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Without mincing words, the Captiva’s already quite old. The basic shape debuted in 2006 putting it at the same age as the Toyota Fortuner. As such, it doesn’t have the same aerodynamic and angular treatment as the Cruze, Sonic, or Trailblazer (believe it or not, the co-efficient of drag is 0.38). This here is a survivor of Chevrolet’s bygone era that includes unmemorable cars like the Optra. Of course, that didn’t stop The General’s designers from modernizing the front and rear clips.
It now rocks a larger dual port grille maw that’s menacing. More than once, it was complimented for looking rather handsome. And at least, you won’t have difficulty finding it in the mall parking. The rear gets LED tail lights and squared-off tail pipes. The biggest change though, and often unmentioned, is the tailgate. It sadly loses the separate glass opening in favor of a one-piece design. If the re-grafted front and rear ends sound off-putting, you’ll be surprised that it works very well. It comes out harmoniously. Still, the Captiva’s rather tall with an overall height at 1,756 millimeters, which can cause it not to fit in some underground parking facilities.
Inside, the Captiva receives even more “car-scaping” work with a subtly redesigned dashboard. At first glance it doesn’t look that different from before, but a side-by-side comparison makes the differences quite obvious. First, the entire center console’s new with trapezoidal A/C vents (as opposed to the old square ones) and re-positioned buttons for easier operation. It also houses a new infotainment system with iPod, video, GPS, and Bluetooth capabilities. Second, the shifter’s new with a more intuitive slap-to-the-left operation of the manual shift override. Third, it now has an electric parking brake that allows the Captiva to give birth to two additional cup holders aside from two large center bins. Fourth, and the most welcome change, is the new gauges. The cheap fluorescent green lighting is gone and in its place are straight-forward LED backlit ones. It doesn’t have Chevrolet’s typical dual-binnacle design, but at least this one’s very easy to understand and don’t threaten to blind you at night. And finally, the steering wheel now houses remapped controls that include the ability to change the A/C’s fan speed at just a thumb’s reach. Now, if only the Chevrolet logo on the tiller were properly matched to the new, modern logo, the transition would have been more seamless.
The Captiva’s overall execution is more of solidity than outright style. But at least everything is logically-placed and ergonomically sound. It gets points for a comfortable driving position and good, supportive seats as well as for its easy vehicle operation. However, you simply don’t get any tactile pleasure from operating the Captiva. Everything feels solid yes, but there’s nothing special about the interior experience. There are no leather bits whatsoever. But what it lacks in style, it does more than make up for it with tons of space.
There’s massive room for the first two rows, especially in the headroom department, thanks to the arching roofline. Surprisingly, the second row’s mighty fine as well with long seat cushions for good hip support and adjustable headrests and seatbacks. The third row, now standard across the range, is habitable but best reserved for emergency applications. Compared to the Nissan X-Trail, there’s slightly more knee room at the back plus easier ingress/egress thanks to a second row that tumbles in a 60/40 split. Plus, even with the third row up, a couple of duffel bags can still fit in the remaining space.
It’s actually quite nice of Chevrolet to provide the Captiva with a choice of gasoline and diesel engines; however, in this day and age, the 2.0-liter VCDi is the only way to go. Largely, the refinement is on the same level as the 2.4-liter gasoline except perhaps for the telltale diesel rattle at idle and the corresponding whoosh during acceleration. For 2015, the power gets bumped up to 163 horsepower and 400 Nm, driving solely the front wheels. It has what it takes to be a modern day oil burner, and for the most part it does feel like one, except for some harshness at lower RPMs. As the tach goes up though, the refinement level does too. However, don’t expect a ‘shoved in your seat’ experience each time you mash the throttle. Weighing in at a portly 1,810 kilograms, the Captiva’s the heaviest compact crossover—for instance, others with similar torque figures like the Ford Escape 2.0 weighs at 1,710 kilograms and the Subaru Forester XT at 1,620 kilograms. And both of these competitors have the advantage of all-wheel drive.
Paired with this diesel is a lovely six-speed automatic that offers effortless and transparent shifts. There’s no need to activate the manual shift override, which is hopelessly useless, by the way. It up- and downshifts quickly and naturally allowing it to fully exploit the VCDi’s power and torque. Plus, there’s an Eco mode that boosts efficiency further by altering the shift patterns. It allows the Captiva to shift sooner and downshift later. It also applies the torque converter sooner and stays on later allowing the engine to aggressively shut off during deceleration. Despite keeping Eco on all the time, the Captiva barely squeezes out 8.69 kilometers for every liter of fuel in the city—figures very similar to the larger and heavier and more powerful Trailblazer.
While it’s not a real fuel miser, at least it handles tidily. Along with the new engine, the 2015 Captiva receives a re-tweaked suspension. Chevy calls it a soft ride suspension, but it feels firmer than the pre-facelifted version. It sharpens the road manners, but the flip side is the ride isn’t as relaxed as it should be for this class. Bumps get easily transmitted into the cabin which isn’t helped by the less than solid feeling body structure. It doesn’t flop or flip through corners, but the overall experience is still very pedestrian. The steering isn’t as quick and feels rather numb, mainly because it still relies on a non-variable ratio hydraulic assist steering, but at least there’s still good grip. Unlike more modern offerings, it doesn’t have stability control to speak of and this causes the front tires to chirp at full throttle. But at least the torque steer is largely controlled.
Despite some minor misfires, you can’t deny the Captiva’s more logical and better aligned price positioning. Rather than having four variants like it did before, Chevrolet Philippines has rationalized this down to two with the LS diesel serving as the range-topper at P 1,398,888. This puts it at the same price as the base Trailblazer A/T down to the last peso. And that gives would-be buyers an interesting choice. Undoubtedly, most will flock to the Trailblazer given it’s a much larger SUV with a roomier interior and a more rugged ladder-on-frame construction. However, there are still those who don’t have the space in their garage for a large SUV and perhaps wouldn’t want to sacrifice handling and ride dynamics for a third row of seats. For those, the 2015 Captiva makes a good choice. It almost drowned in obscurity before, but the latest refresh puts it back in the game. It’s a different choice that shouldn’t be glossed over.
2015 Chevrolet Captiva LS Diesel
|Ownership||2015 Chevrolet Captiva FWD LS Diesel|
|Year Introduced||2006 (Refreshed: 2015)|
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door Crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Common Rail Direct Injection, Diesel|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||163 @ 3,800|
|Nm @ rpm||400 @ 2,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,810|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Maxiis MA-707 235/60R17 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Parking Sensors||Rear, w/ Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 (second row), 50/50 (third row)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual Zone|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|