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Holden Captiva Active


We test the new limited-edition flagship for the Holden Captiva range: a tricked-up model called Active.

Base price: $49,990.

Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre petrol V6, 190kW/288Nm, 6-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, ADR Combined economy 10.1 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 4673mm long, 1727mm high, 2707mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 85-465-1565 litres, fuel tank 65 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels on 235/50 Hankook Optimo tyres.

We like: Better equipped than Captiva LTZ but cheaper, six cylinders, seven seats.

We don’t like: Looks a little bit aftermarket, patchy interior design.

How it rates: 6/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Nothing like a special-edition to stimulate sales. Holden has launched a version of its Captiva called the Active: it’s based on the top-line LTZ seven-seat model, but adds painted bumpers and wheel arch extensions, tinted windows, 19-inch alloys in black, side steps and special interior trim elements.

While the Captiva LTZ is $54,490, the limited-run Active is just $49,990. See what we mean about stimulating sales?

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The LTZ/Active’s 3.0-litre V6 engine is a potential drawcard in a market segment full of four-cylinder powerplants. It’s essentially the same motor that you’ll find in a Commodore Evoke. The six-pot engine feels pretty lazy in this application, though – presumably more to do with throttle response and gearbox calibration than actual outputs, which are pretty impressive. The Captiva has slightly more power but a bit less torque than the Evoke.

So it’s no ball of fire, but the V6 does have a nice gurgle under load and adds some aural character to what is otherwise a fairly conventional family wagon. There is some opportunity cost – or rather just cost, in the form of fuel. The Australian Design Rules (ADR) economy figure of 10.1 litres per 100km doesn’t sound all that special anyway, but you’ll struggle to achieve that unless you’re on a long trip. Expect 12-14 l/100km in urban running. The Captiva has an excellent ‘active torque on demand’ four-wheel drive system and handy features like hill-start assist and descent control, but it’s a competent machine in the corners rather than an engaging one.

The massive steering wheel doesn’t help. Large-diameter tillers seem to be a Korean thing (it’s a similar story with some SsangYong models); the Captiva’s just seems oversized and adds to an impression of poor straight-line stability and sluggish chassis responses.

The Captiva Activa is not necessarily a disappointing drive. But this model is now well behind the latest generation of medium/large SUVs for chassis dynamics.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The Captiva cabin is a blend of some excellent features with piecemeal design. There’s plenty of storage, for example: a tray in the centre console with two cupholders that slides back to reveal another deep bin underneath. Under there you’ll find a USB port and space for the family pet on road trips.

There’s another small bin atop the dashboard, nicely lined and with a lid: ideal place for a mobile phone. There are plenty of surprise-and-delight features like that, but the interior is let down by a distinct lack of design coherence – as if much of the top-line Captiva’s equipment was an afterthought.

There’s a nice big colour screen for the satellite-navigation, for example, but the audio system isn’t integrated into it. Instead, the basic controls and track names appear on an old-school dot-matrix display that’s separate to the main screen.

Or consider the Captiva Active’s keyless entry/start system. It works well, but instead of a push-button start there’s a massive blank inserted into the ignition where the key would go in lesser models… which you twist to start the engine. Like the locking system, though: simply walk away with the keys and the car secures itself automatically.

The Active package doesn’t add a lot to the LTZ interior, apart from some embossing on the front headrests. But the Captiva’s big selling point remains: it’s a mid-sized crossover with seven-seat capability, even if the third row is strictly occasional (as is so often the case with these types of vehicles). Many of its rivals have better interior design and quality, but very few offer as many chairs.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? There is no shortage of choice in the SUV market at the moment. The Captiva Active struggles to make a case on driving dynamics, but this special-edition model does look quite striking and it represents a lot of vehicle for the money.

While the Captiva Active is not a class-leader, it does achieve something in a crowded segment by offering some standout features that are matched by very few direct rivals: a V6 engine and seven seats.


  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/No
  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Yes
  • Parking radar: Front and rear with camera
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
  • Rear ventilation outlets: Yes
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Split/folding rear seats: 60/40 centre-row and 50/50 third row
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: No
  • Trip computer: Yes

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