Ford had made huge gains in the softer end of the family SUV market with the Territory before Holden retaliated with the Captiva.
The problem for the Red Lion is in stealing sales from the `Tezza’ without cannibalising their own Commodore family sedan.
The Captiva SX runs on a 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder diesel engine with common rail injection. It produces 110kW at 4000 rpm and 320Nm at 2000 rpm.
To get power to the wheels, the engine can be mated to either a five speed automatic transmission with Active Select or a five speed manual.
From its 65-litre tank, the Captive SX diesel swigs around 11.5 litres of fuel every 100km.
At over four and half metres long, two and a bit metres wide and with a 200mm ground clearance, the smart and sporty Captiva muscles in easily on rivals from a design perspective.
With smooth curves, a rounded rear, flared wheel arches and big 17 inch alloys, the latest Captiva has a contemporary, aerodynamic look with muscle.
Complimenting the exterior, the inside of the SX is equally as neat with reasonable quality surfaces given its price bracket.
Standard features include keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, a leather wrap steering wheel, cruise control and a MP3-compatible audio system.
Cargo volume with all seats upright is 465 litres, with all rear seats down is 930 litres and with the front passenger and all rear seats down, is 1565 litres.
As well as a comprehensive airbag package, the Holden Captiva SX comes with anti-skid brakes with brakeforce distribution and brake assists, rollover protection and traction, stability and descent controls.
The Captiva range starts at $34,490 for the SX and tops out at $44,490 for the Maxx AWD.
I would like to think the Captiva is a reflection on how seriously Holden take this market segment. They know they have to put an alternate forward to the Ford Territory but really they hope, like I do, that the whole urban SUV thing is just a fad. They certainly don't want sales of SUV's eating into the Commodore market.
Driving the SX is as you would expect a front-wheel drive 2.0-litre common rail turbodiesel SUV to be - it's competent – but not great. Power and handling are both fine and it is capable of getting along a freeway at a rapid pace while feeling nice and solid. Rear compartment space and the underfloor trays are good. So the yearly family holiday gets a big tick.
The interior is okay, but the centre console is poorly designed and the odd storage compartment in the centre console — where a screen should be — reinforces the fact that you are driving the cheap model.
For around town there is the third row seat option, which is very neatly done. Being the two-wheel drive version it is obviously targeted at the around town driver — mum doing the taxi runs during the week, dad doing the sport duties on the weekend. And for this it is also okay, if you can ignore the grabby brakes and the strange transmission change timing.
At 7.2 L/100k it is very economical for a medium-size SUV, but while it is good environmentally, is it currently the best choice for your hip pocket?
The week I drove it, my local servo had unleaded at 100.9 while diesel was at 139.9. The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with 100Kw returns 7.2L /100km. The AWD 3.2L V6 with a 169Kw output does 11.5L. So the diesel uses 63 per cent of the fuel that the 3.2L petrol engine uses. The unleaded costs 72% of the diesel. So, presently the cost saving advantages of a diesel are not certain, as driving style needs to be factored in.
When the comparison is being done with both vehicles being 4WD models the petrol version is less costly on the wallet - and you don't have to put up with that intolerable sound of a Holden diesel.
Rating - 6.9/10