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Old 05-25-2012, 11:57 PM   #1
el ess A
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New Chevy Captiva SUV review (rental car)

We got ourselves a Captiva for a rental car today. It gets great mileage, but haven't checked it yet. Drove all day and it's still 5/8 of a tank.

Good- Looks cute says the wife. Ok, I guess that's a "good". It's not garish to look at, but still, it's an SUV. I do like that it's rather small. Not an SUV fan at all, but have the mother in law with us and "women's luggage" (guys know what I mean) so an SUV sounded more practical. Mileage seems to be good. When on a smooth level road, it's quiet and rides well. Steering is...SUV, but it goes pretty much where you point it. Has all the room we needed.

Gages were easy to read and controls were ok, and the DIC was typical GM. The DIC controls were on the dash, exactly the same operation as my GMC truck, so that was easy enough. A LITTLE dissapointed that those buttons weren't easy to see on the lower left part of the dash.

The A/C is controlled with an auto temp knob. Set the temp you want and forget it. Wish Camaro had that.

Seats were comfy. AND, it has a feature that looks remarkably close to the steering wheel found in the current Camaros. Not fond of it, but it does feel ok in the hands. 2+ hours straight to Flagstaff and it didn't even phase me as far as a tiring drive. Rides pretty well overall.

The Onstar stuff is in the overhead console, and the rearview mirror now looks like the mirrors of old, found in things like a 75 Malibu. Looks cleaner.

One very cool little feature I found was the Garmin power wire plugs in UNDER the cupholders in the console. Really. You push a button down, and slide back the entire cup holder assembly which unveils a very deep pocket to store the garmin and stuff while not using it, and it has the power cord plug and a USB port in there as well. When in use, the garmin power cord conveniently fits into a formed notch in the cupholder so you can close the cupholder without crunching the wire.

Bad- Similar hatch operation as the CTS Wagon, but isn't motorized. That sucks. Maybe I'm spoiled, but with all the other bells and whistles on the car you would think it would have that. Didn't even come with backup alarm sensors (that I noticed. I did notice there were no "beeps" going into reverse, so I'm assuming that's the case.)

Interestingly enough, it reminds me a LOT of that Hundai equivalent from the outside. But anyway, it's got a rockin' 4 cylinder that really LABORS to get up the mountain passes from Phoenix to Flagstaff. When you get on it, it's very noisy because of the high revs needed. Maybe that's the way they're supposed to be, I dunno. Around town it's great, but when you need power, forget it. It is peppy for a 4 cylinder, but if you ever decide you want one, unless you're in the city only, opt for the V6.

The ride on rough roads transfers a lot of road noise up through the cabin. Again, maybe it's just me and that's how they're supposed to be. No issues at all on smooth roads.

Overall, it is fairly impressive to me for a small SUV. Obviously I'm not going to evaluate it very carefully as if I were going to buy one, but for a jellybean, it works as intended. Just some first blush observations is all.



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Old 05-26-2012, 12:01 AM   #2
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I've never heard of it. Was this in the US, or abroad?
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:03 AM   #3
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Looks like a Nissan Rogue Crossover imo.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:11 AM   #4
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I've never heard of it. Was this in the US, or abroad?
In the U.S. We got it at the Phoenix rental car place by the airport.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:14 AM   #5
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The climb up 17 is a monster climb and hard on any auto, especially in the summer. I've always had cars that can climb it with ease, but it's not an easy climb for most. I disagree that you'd "have to get the V6". That's just american ignorance, that every car should be able to cruise at 130mph regardless of the grade. If you can make it up that grade with the 4cyl and keep the speed limit, it shouldn't have any trouble. The only real thing you'd want is a turbo for the 4cyl to harness more power and not waste fuel like the V6.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:37 AM   #6
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The climb up 17 is a monster climb and hard on any auto, especially in the summer. I've always had cars that can climb it with ease, but it's not an easy climb for most. I disagree that you'd "have to get the V6". That's just american ignorance, that every car should be able to cruise at 130mph regardless of the grade. If you can make it up that grade with the 4cyl and keep the speed limit, it shouldn't have any trouble. The only real thing you'd want is a turbo for the 4cyl to harness more power and not waste fuel like the V6.
I climbed that about 3 years ago in early March in a Ford Edge, and its 265hp V6 was breathing pretty hard (about 70-80% throttle and around 4500 RPM). 4-cylinder SUV in summer Arizona heat must have been wide open and nearly red-lined the whole way. Sounds like less a recipe for efficiency than a recipe for short engine life.

Disagree on the V6 is a waste of fuel argument. Yes, in a small car, or at low speeds in city traffic, a 4-cyl is more efficient than a V6. But as the need for power increases, and the load on the engines increase, the efficiency gain gets smaller and you run into a point of diminishing returns. Once you're at the point of having to run the little 4-cyl almost constantly in lower gears just to cruise, you'd probably be better off efficiency wise with a V6 that can handle higher gears.

And turbocharging isn't the answer either. Small turbo engines of similar power of a larger NA engine really don't have an efficiency advantage (Maybe a little on the EPA cycle, but not really in the real world). And in a heavy load situation like the above where the turbo would be constantly spooled, a turbo 4 would probably be thirstier than a NA V6 of similar power. Turbo = lower compression ratio = lower thermodynamic efficiency.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:54 AM   #7
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Having seen the gunk that gets spilled around cupholders, I wonder how many Garmins will die an untimely "death by cola" in that neat little pocket. Sounds like three things that annoy me the most....Underpowered.....SUV....and CUTE.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:54 AM   #8
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Never heard of them either. Just checked Chevrolet.com and didn't see it there either.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:56 AM   #9
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That's just it. If it was able to maintain the speed limit without revving the pee out of the engine to do it, then I would list it as a "good" attribute. It didn't, and so went in the bad. I'm basing this off of 1st hand personal experience and that's my opinion.

And I simply was suggesting that if you needed more torque, opt for the 6 cylinder or you'll likely be regretting it later for this particular model. Personally, I'd even say opt for the V8 if they had that option.
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Old 05-26-2012, 01:06 AM   #10
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Never heard of them either. Just checked Chevrolet.com and didn't see it there either.
Wow, you're right! Maybe they're sneaking this in somewhere. Maybe it's just for the rental car market? I dunno.

Ah, found more info. Imported from Mexico and currently only for fleet sales (commercial). It's listed in the Commercial pdf flyer:

http://www.chevrolet.com/assets/en/p...eBrochure2.pdf

I guess then it doesn't matter unless you're fleeting it or going to rent one. Not a generally available car at the moment...
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Old 05-26-2012, 01:44 AM   #11
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This will never be for retail sales. It was imported for fleet and rental. If I remember right, Buick has a new mini suv coming out that is based off this and the Opel version overseas. I have seen a few around town as rentals only and they don't seem bad, just too small for my taste.
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Old 05-26-2012, 01:47 AM   #12
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It is a rebadge Saturn Vue!! After Saturn was shutdown GM made them into the Captiva!! Only used for rental agencies but soon will be after they are done with them!!
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Old 05-26-2012, 02:16 AM   #13
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The Captiva is fleet only in the US (you can find them on GM's fleet site if your curious to know more about them). The main reason for this is to keep the resale value of Equinoxes high. See, the more fleet sales a model has the lower the resale is for all of them -fleet or retail. So by having a fleet only vehicle like the Captiva, the Equinox (which fills more or less the same role) can be almost all retail sales.

As for needing a V6 because an I4 needs to 'work too hard' ... not really. Its what, 180 hp to move ~3700 lbs+passengers? Thats adequete. I know that when I was driving around in a 120 hp Saturn that weighed ~2400 lbs (pretty much the same power to weight as the Captiva) I was never fearful that I was ever working the engine so hard that it would cause pre-mature failure. Last I heard from Mom, that engine is still going strong after 15 years+ and crowding 200k miles. I'm not saying that that little rolling piece of tupperware was sporty or anything, but the engine always had enough gusto to say pass a semi on the highway without too much fanfare, or power its way up a hill. Yes, it would drop down a gear or two but its not as if I had to redline it for extended periods just to accomplish everyday driving tasks either.

If you know that you'll need more power then sure a V6 makes more sense. But for the most part, the smaller engine is almost always more sensible & the only real reason to get something with more power is simply to have more power. There's nothing really wrong with that mentality, just don't make up excuses about engine longevity or other nonsense. It just comes across the same way as saying you like going to Hooters because you enjoy their chicken wings. Whether its true or not, just about everyone can tell that there are other, more obvious, reasons at play.
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Old 05-26-2012, 05:12 AM   #14
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The Captiva is fleet only in the US (you can find them on GM's fleet site if your curious to know more about them). The main reason for this is to keep the resale value of Equinoxes high. See, the more fleet sales a model has the lower the resale is for all of them -fleet or retail. So by having a fleet only vehicle like the Captiva, the Equinox (which fills more or less the same role) can be almost all retail sales.
So exactly how similar is this to an Equinox? Does it share a platform, or is it an older version of a platform? Basically, if one was looking for 1-2 year old Equinox, would this be close enough to look at instead once they start reselling them?

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As for needing a V6 because an I4 needs to 'work too hard' ... not really. Its what, 180 hp to move ~3700 lbs+passengers? Thats adequete.
It have to respectfully disagree. The 2.4L 170hp Ecotec in a 3700 lb SUV is quite weak. That puts it in line with the Vulcan Taurus, except the Vulcan had more torque, and likely had less drag to overcome.

In my opinion, you have to take today's horsepower numbers with a grain of salt, because not all horsepowers are necessarily created equal. 170hp today is not the same as 170hp was even 10 years ago. Most of today's engines do have impressive specific horsepower numbers, but specific torque has not increased so much. Newer engines tend to make their power by revving high. So yes, an Ecotec 2.4L will make the same 170hp as the 3.4L in my Alero, but the Ecotec has a narrower power band, and has to be whipped a lot harder to force it out.

Same goes for all the modern 300+ horsepower V6s every manufacturer seems to have now. I've driven several of them, and honestly, they just don't feel like it. Run any of those 300hp V6s against a bigger displacement 300hp engine from 10-15 years ago in a similar weight car, and I bet you the older one wins almost every time.

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If you know that you'll need more power then sure a V6 makes more sense. But for the most part, the smaller engine is almost always more sensible & the only real reason to get something with more power is simply to have more power.
I agree to a point. Sure, the 4-cylinder is all most would ever actually need. However, it really depends on where you live. I've driven almost everywhere in this country at some point, including that climb between Pheonix and Flagstaff the OP mentioned (which is a full throttle, near redline just to maintain speed affair in a 4 banger 3700 lb SUV), in many different types of vehicles. I can say from experience that driving a car with "just enough" power is a real chore in the western mountain states. It forces you to plan all your moves ahead, and really run the car hard in that environment. On a long drive, it can actually be quite fatiguing for a driver. After a while, it makes you dislike driving, and dislike the car even more. So it isn't just about having power to have power, its about making the car more comfortable and less tiring and stressful to drive.

Maybe it's just me, and maybe I'm making myself sound a bit crazy, but the philosophy of saying "good enough," and engineering for the bare minumum of adequacy was a major contribuing factor to GM's and Chrysler's market share losses and bankruptcies, and I'm worried about them heading in that same direction again.
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