There's a lot to be said for the Holden engineering teams' efforts with Korean-sourced product. They've not reached the dizzying heights of silk purses from sow's ears just yet, but the Cruze tweaks were worthy. It's shame they can't do more with the Captiva.

Sure, the pricepoint and features list is competitive but the new model seems to have lost its way in the dynamics stakes, with the drivetrain not compensating for it in any way other than fuel use.

Explore the 2012 Holden Captiva Range


We're in the LX seven-seater all-wheel drive flagship - a $2000 cheaper proposition now, priced at $42,490 or you can add $1000 and get the turbodiesel.

The Thai-built LX has a worthy features list - climate control air conditioning, power windows, three 12 volt power outlets, split second and third row seats, leather trim, power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlights (but no rain-sensing wipers), Bluetooth phone (which was temperamental at best) and audio link for the eight speaker sound system, cruise control, electrochromatic centre rearvision mirror, satellite navigation (with compass), tilt-and-reach adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, multifunction driver information display, rear parking sensors and rear camera and a trip computer.


There's little in the way of ground-breaking gear here - the three-litre direct-injection V6 claims 190kW and 288Nm on the spec sheet but it feels short of that - with 400Nm on offer from the diesel that's ample temptation for another $1000.

The V6 doesn't seem to be enamoured with the six-speed auto, which feels a little slow and confused when asked for quick action.

It lays claim to a combined fuel use figure of 11.3l/100km, while we got 13.2 during our time in the car, which was not always driven for frugality - on par with its petrol competition.

The all-wheel drive set-up is the on-demand system, which - like most of the systems seems eco-centric - takes a very long time to bring the rear wheels into play, despite extreme provocation. The delay is ample evidence to suggest anything other than fire trails and hard-packed beach sand would be a challenge.

The descent control system does a reasonable job of bringing the big SUV down a hill at a gracious pace, but serious off-road work would probably bake the brakes. Sadly, that's an issue in any of these SUVs with electronics in lieu of a good low-range.

There's a USB port within the more spacious centre console for added connectivity - the extra room comes from the inclusion of an electric park brake.


The main change aesthetically comes at the front, with a sharper, sculpted snout and more air intake grilles. The bonnet and headlights have been re-designed and seem to be following a similar path to the new Ford Territory.


The Captiva still rates a four-star crash performer but has dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, anti-lock braking on four-wheel ventilated discs, emergency brake assist, a hill descent control system (which is too fast), electronic brakeforce distribution, rollover, stability and traction control.


Immediately the ride was a concern, very sharp over small bumps and not much better over bigger ones. A quick check with the pressure gauge prompted five pounds of pressure out of each tyre and the ride became a little less brittle, but the wagon's ride was still too firm for the rugrats and the Speaker Of The House.

Part of the problem is - regardless of the myriad seating configurations - the seats themselves are flat and not overly comfortable. The suspension's taut control does deliver flat cornering and that shows up the seating's deficiency in terms of lateral support, but the compromised ride is too hard for a family truckster.

As mentioned, the six-speed auto and the petrol V6 are not the best of bed-fellows, with a dearth of low-down torque to overcome the transmission's indecision.

The infotainment side of the cabin seems considerable, with Bluetooth phone and music link - but the system seems more adept at the latter than the former. The satellite navigation screen is clear and easy enough to use and read, but appears easily confused.

Despite claiming signal from nine satellites, the map was telling me I was driving on the South Eastern freeway when I was still well and truly on Upper Sturt Road, more than a couple of kilometres away.