Road Test - Captivating Chevy 4x4

For drivers with the requisite budget, the Chevrolet Captiva LTX offers driving ease and comfort with vast and versatile space.

There’s a super smooth 3.2 litre V6 petrol engine under the bonnet. It thrusts this big, curvy SUV gingerly past the speed limit via an intelligent 5-speed automatic gearbox. Interestingly, the engine lies transversely mounted, like a front-wheel-drive vehicle, with a prop shaft neatly slung under the chassis between the gearbox and the rear diff driving the rear wheels.

Clearly the Captiva isn’t meant to drive over car-sized boulders and other extreme off-road obstacles. It’s a comfortable, capable vehicle designed for traversing rough, rutted farm roads and gravel tracks through game parks in air-conditioned isolation. However, it’s equally at home cruising on a long tar strip to nowhere with some Good Vibrations oozing from the combination 6-CD shuttle radio/tape/MP3 player.

Surges under throttle
Besides the usual auto gearbox settings (PRND), the Captiva also has a 2-speed low gear setting for slow rough driving, steep inclines or heavy towing, and a 4-speed setting for somewhere between highway and off-road conditions. The “Winter” button on the transmission console is pressed for driving on wet, icy roads and heavily retards acceleration – it’s like driving in slow motion. Make sure it’s “off” and the Captiva surges under throttle. The only negative here is a finger release button on the gear shift – quad drivers may need a nudge-shift adaptor. Likewise, the handbrake has a pesky thumb release. At 120km/h in D mode, the V6 purrs at 2400 rpm.

The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable in every dimension, and about 70cm above ground, slightly higher than normal. Windows and outside mirrors are electric, the latter able to fold in for tight spots and car washes. The inside door openers are a bit small, and the locks are impossible to operate. There’s a good door lock button on the driver’s door armrest console. The steering wheel is height adjustable, and has cruise control tabs behind on the right, with sound volume controls on the left. The fascia is neat and uncluttered with all dials clearly visible – night time dash lighting is adjustable. The front has lots of little storage nooks and crannies, including a flip-down Ray Ban holder in the ceiling!

The Captiva can hold five passengers with luggage. Flip up the split rear cargo space floor and another one or two seats with straps and headrests allow two more full size passengers to tag along!

Ready to override
No less than eight airbag systems surround the passenger cabin, with two upfront and three on either side. As expected the Captiva has a Stability Control System ready to override all the electronic throttle, wheel drive and ABS functions if things get hairy in a hurry. There are also rear bumper proximity sensors for proper parking protection.

Chunky 18-inch alloy wheels lend some stylish aggression to the Captiva’s looks, which are shod with equally stylish Dunlop 235/55 SP Sport rubber, including the spare slung under the tail end. The most interesting thing about the Captiva is the sound of the indicators – like the tick tock of a Disney cartoon clock!

Rolling Inspiration says thanks to Beverley and Dion at Williams Hunt Randburg for the opportunity to drive the superb Chev Captiva LTX.

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