Kia Sportage VS Holden Captiva
- Great ride
- Good standard safety
- Great standard features
- Rivals offer AWD cheaper
- Full safety suite on GT-Line only
- Petrol engine thirsty
- It's cheap
- It's big
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- It's old
- It's a bit noisy
- Lacks the finesse of the competition
If you take a snapshot of the Australian mid-size SUV market, it becomes apparent that the Kia Sportage is an oft-overlooked option in a sea of storied Japanese nameplates.
Perhaps it’s because the Sportage is a bit more controversially styled than its Tucson cousin, or perhaps it’s a victim of its own success, having been an attractive option for populating car-share fleets like GoGet.
But I’d argue that the Sportage is special in more ways than it gets credit for, and shouldn’t be overlooked by Australians on the hunt for a new mid-sizer, even this far into its lifecycle.
Read on to find out why, and which variant in the Sportage’s just updated 2020 lineup is our pick of the bunch.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Holden wasn't the first manufacturer to find itself bereft of a big SUV when the fuse was lit by BMW and Mercedes as the last millennium came to a close. Ford responded with the Territory while Holden jacked-up a V8 Commodore and slapped the Adventra badge on it. Sadly, it didn't work, and so the Captiva was the next best option, procured from what was then called Daewoo.
As a result of that that little blip on the economic radar, the GFC, and an on-going re-organisation of General Motors, the Korean-built Captiva has lasted rather longer than anyone expected.
It first launched with two bodystyles, but is now down to one, the bigger and more practical seven seat body shell.
|Engine Type||2.2L turbo|
The Sportage continues to age gracefully, now offering an increasingly finely tuned range of variants to suit most price brackets.
While its engine and transmission choices leave a little to be desired, it continues to offer impressive ride, handing, and technology when compared to many (but not all) Japanese segment rivals.
Our pick of the range is the SX in either engine, as it offers the lion’s share of Sportage spec items at the right price.
The Captiva is very, very long in the tooth and is heading towards retirement some time in the next twelve months. Before then, it's a lot of car for the money, particularly the seven seat LS. It's not fast, flash or futuristic but it will do the job and with all of the early problems sorted, will probably do it for quite some time.
The Captiva's low scores are mostly to do with the car just being old and feeling it, with dodgier plastics, slightly undercooked ride and handling and a lack of engine and safety tech. It doesn't mean it's a terrible car, because it isn't and Holden papers up the cracks with a low starting price and good after-sales.
The Sportage isn’t as conservatively styled as its sensible spec would suggest. Clearly influenced by the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, with the bonnet-mounted light fittings, curvaceous edges and strip-light across the tailgate, the overall look aims to put the “sport” in “Sportage”.
It has enough of its almost insectoid personality to be criticised as a straight rip-off though, for better or worse, and its most recent facelift in 2018 accentuated its best features. At least one criticism that can’t be leveled at the Sportage is that it looks boring.
The more aggressive look certainly sets it apart from the conservatively styled Hyundai Tucson with which it shares a chassis, and that’s even more evident on the inside where there’s a sportier asymmetrical dash with a raised centre-console and slick, three-spoke steering wheel.
While everything is ergonomic in here – with an added bonus of dials and shortcut buttons for the climate controls - the screen-in-dash look is getting a bit dated. The same could be said for the interior plastics, which are finished largely in the same drab grey colour, no matter which grade you pick. The design of them is nice, but anything under the soft dash-topper is hard to the touch.
Thankfully, everything is superbly put together with not a squeak or rattle to be heard on any of the test cars I sampled, and the pared-back application of silver highlights in the dash is tasteful. The quad-dial instrument cluster is a classic layout. There’s no option for a digital dash in the Sportage range.
The two-tone alloys look great, no matter which grade you pick, and aside from the flared bits and LED light fittings on the GT-Line, it’s genuinely hard to tell the grades apart from each other, which is good for low-spec buyers.
Overall, the Sportage presents a design which has aged well, thanks to a more risqué approach being taken when this generation first launched in 2016.
Formerly known as the Captiva 7, the seven seat body has remained mostly the same for its 11 years on sale. The only real changes have been around the front end, with Holden several times fiddling with the grille, lights and bumpers. There's nothing flash about the Captiva, but you know exactly what it is coming at you, with the double grille and big Holden badge.
In profile there's a lot of the original BMW X5 if you squint, right down to the copyright lawyer-dodging shape of the rear quarter window. It also has that X5's big gaps between wheelarch and tyres and a good view of the wheelarch itself. If that's your thing.
Little has changed at the back apart from bumpers and the LED effect lights added in the last update in 2014. It's unlikely you're buying the Captiva as auto haute couture, though.
Inside is basic, and you can place the Captiva's genesis in the mid-2000s, there's a certain generic GM feel to it. The switchgear feels old and clacky, the plastics are hard but do fit well enough. An Audi interior it isn't. The update in 2014 to make the 7.0-inch screen fit in the dashboard is fairly obvious and it's a shame the whole dash couldn't have been replaced. The huge steering wheel surrounds a tightly packed instrument cluster with small dials and a very old-looking LCD panel for trip computer duties.
Like most Korean SUVs, the Sportage has the idea of practicality cooked-in throughout its cabin. It starts in the front row, where the driver and passenger have access to some large cupholders in the doors and centre console (suitable for 500ml containers), a decently sized top-box and glovebox, as well as a very large trench in front of the shift-lever, which also hosts the USB and aux inputs, as well as dual 12V power outlets.
In the back seat, there are plenty of amenities, with decently sized cupholders in each door, pockets on the back of the seats, air-conditioning vents on the back of the console as well as dual power outlets. Another neat trick is that the Sportage has reclining rear seats, allowing extra comfort for rear-seat passengers, or extra boot space where required.
To its credit, the boot space is easy to use and comes with an adjustable rolling cover. Part of the reduction in sheer capacity is due to a full-size alloy spare living under the boot floor – a big bonus for regional buyers, who may need one as a matter of safety.
Leg and headroom are simply great, no matter which seat you’re sitting in, and the big rear doors on the Sportage open nice and wide – good for low-mobility passengers or those needing to fit a child-seat.
The Captiva's interior dimensions are impressive. In seven seat versions, the boot space starts at 87 litres, expanding to a handy 465 litres with the 50/50 split fold rear row stowed. Flop the middle row forward and you're up at 930 litres, a good size cargo area that could swallow a flat-pack wardrobe. If you snaffle a five-seat version, you can remove the boot floor panels to reveal another couple of hundred litres of hidey holes.
There are cup holders up front (two), in the middle row (two) and in the boot (one, strangely) for a total of five. In the seven seater, two will go thirsty.
Price and features
You did read that right, the Sportage range – despite looking exactly the same as last year’s iteration – has received a mild nip and tuck, which includes new variants and pricing. As before, the Sportage range is offered with a choice of three engines, two petrols and a diesel, with either front- or all-wheel drive across four trim levels. All prices on the Sportage range are drive-away.
Kicking off the range is the S, which is available as a 2.0-litre petrol front-wheel drive in either a re-introduced six-speed manual ($28,990), six-speed auto ($29,990) or as an eight-speed auto diesel AWD ($36,990).
Standard spec, even on the entry-level car, is impressive. Included are 17-inch alloy wheels (no steelies here), LED DRLs (but halogen headlights), leather-trimmed wheel and shift-lever, hard-wearing cloth seat trim, a 3.5-inch dot-matrix info screen in the dash, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android auto support, dual-zone climate control, as well as rear parking sensors and camera. Another nice touch is that the base S model also scores auto rain-sensing wipers as standard.
Considering the standard active-safety suite explored in the safety section of this review, the S could easily be the pick of the range of any other SUV lineup, but our pick is still the mid-grade SX (previously known as the Si).
Available in the same three drivetrain choices at a $2500 premium, the SX adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, front-facing parking sensors, a more impressive-looking 8.0-inch touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio and built-in sat-nav, backed by an eight-speaker JBL audio system. We’d say the extra spice is well worth it, making the SX our pick.
Jumping up to the SX Plus (previously the SLi) adds leather seat trim (which is hard-wearing, but isn’t the most luxurious-feeling fake leather on the market), an upgrade to the visual treatment with chrome and gloss black highlights, a larger colour TFT screen embedded in the dash, and, for the first time in a mid-grade Sportage, a powered tailgate. The SX Plus is well equipped, but if you can do without leather seat trim, it's not really worth the $7000 like-for-like switch up from the SX…
Available as an all-wheel-drive only, the penultimate Sportage is the GT-Line. Finally gaining a full suite of LED front lights and, frustratingly, the only way to specify a Sportage with blind-spot monitoring, active cruise control and rear cross traffic alert, the GT-Line is relatively expensive, even for the segment, at $46,490 for the 2.4-litre six-speed auto petrol or $49,490 for the eight-speed auto turbo diesel.
Other fruit for the extra money includes a sports bodykit, aggressive 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, a wireless phone-charging bay, and an automatic-parking suite.
The Captiva's value is heavily dependent on the model you choose. Standard features across the range (starting with the LS) include a 7.0-inch touchscreen running MyLink, a six-speaker stereo with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, auto headlights, leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, three 12 volt power outlets, keyless entry and start and a tyre inflation kit in place of an (optional) spare tyre.
No Captiva comes standard with sat nav as they all feature Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which both use your phone's GPS apps.
There are four models, three 'standard' specifications - LS, LT, and the top of the range LTZ, with a fourth version in the form of the five seat only Active 'special' edition, that isn't.
Pricing starts at $26,490 for the 2.4-litre LS (with five seats and five-speed manual gearbox), $28,690 for the auto, and the diesel comes in at $31,690. Seven-seat LS pricing ranges from $30,490 for the petrol and $33,490 for the diesel, both six-speed automatics.
The Active enters the price list at $31,990 drive away. Based on the five-seat petrol LS (to be discontinued in May 2017), the auto-only Active adds 18-inch alloys, textile leather seats and a cargo cover. There's also a similarly specified seven seat version at $33,490.
On to the LT, and the price rises to $37,490 for the petrol and $38,490 for the diesel, both of them seven seaters. Part of the big jump for the LT is explained by the petrol engine switching to Holden's 190kW 3.0-litre V6 and the addition of all-wheel drive (AWD). The LT picks up a sunroof, bigger alloys, side steps, cloth trim with "Sportec" bolsters on the front seats and powered heated mirrors.
The LTZ's pricing is a mixed bag. Ordinarily, the V6-powered version would attract an rrp (carmakers insist we call it MLP, manufacturer's list price) of $40,490, with the diesel adding a thousand dollars to weigh in at $41,490. However, Holden is running a long promotion offering the LTZ V6 at $35,990 drive away with three years of free servicing.
The LTZ has 19-inch wheels, leather-look trim, electric driver's seat and front parking sensors.
You can choose one of seven colours - black, white, red, silver, blue, brown and grey and all but white will cost you $550. Orange is no longer on the menu, no matter how much you want it to be 2007 again.
Engine & trans
The Sportage is offered with a choice of three engines, all of which are unremarkable.
These engines are also starting to show their age, but the fact that you can choose either petrol or diesel across the range will be a win for some consumers.
The 2.0-litre petrol offered as the front-wheel drive option on the S, SX, and SX Plus grades produces 114kW/192Nm and can be chosen with either a six-speed auto, or a six-speed manual on the bottom two grades.
The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine offered across the range with only an eight-speed automatic in all-wheel drive produces a better-sounding 136kW/400Nm (hence the price hike).
The GT-Line is the only grade that can be had as a petrol in all-wheel drive, it benefits from a larger 2.4-litre petrol engine with outputs set at 135kW/237Nm, paired only to a six-speed automatic.
It would be nice to see higher tech turbocharged petrol engines make it to the Sportage range for the sake of both power and fuel efficiency, but these kinds of dated petrol powertrains are par-for-the course in the Australian mid-size SUV landscape.
A benefit to many drivers will be the torque-converter automatic transmissions, rather than their lacklustre CVT counterparts, which appear in most of this car’s Japanese rivals.
If you like a choice of engine size, you've come to the right place. The Captiva has three engine specs in the range - two petrols and a diesel.
The smaller petrol, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, produces 123kW at 5600rpm and 230Nm at 4600rpm. Driving the front wheels, this motor is available with choice of gearbox, either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. This 2.4 is only available on the LS and Active.
The 24-valve 3.0 SIDI V6 is available on LT and LTZ and produces 190kW at 6900rpm and 288Nm at 5800rpm.
The single diesel is a 2.2-litre iron block with common rail direct-injection and makes 135kW at 3800rpm and a stout 400Nm within a very usable range of 1750-2750rpm. You can have the oil burner in all three trim levels, driving the front wheels in the LS and four-wheel drive in the LT and LTZ.
Both the V6 and diesel are available only with the six-speed automatic transmission.
Unlike earlier Captiva models, none of these engines feature a timing belt. Those early engines suffered from issues related to the fabric belt while problems with the later timing chain driven engines are less common. Reliability of the V6 is well-proven in the Commodore while later four cylinders also perform well.
Zero to 100km/h performance varies between the engines. The 2.4 will reach 100km/h in around 10.5 seconds while the V6 is rather quicker at 8.6. The diesel falls right in the middle at 9.6 seconds.
We've not yet carried out a towing review, but according to Holden, towing capacity is rated at 750kg for unbraked trailers and 2000kg braked.
A downside to old engines with rigid transmission ratios pulling heavy SUV bodies is a notable cost in the fuel-consumption department.
The 2.0-litre front-drive variants carry claimed combined fuel-consumption figures of 7.9L/100km, but the figure most people will experience is in the rather more honest official “urban” figure of 10.9L/100km.
In my back-to-back tests of the 2.0-litre petrol versions of the SX and SX Plus I produced figures on either side of that number, scoring 10.5L/100km and 11L/100km in the real world, over about 350km of testing respectively.
Not great, then, and those figures are easily bested by CVT rivals – even the 2.5-litre all-wheel-drive Forester – according to real-world figures put on the board in recent CarsGuide reviews.
Mercifully, the Sportage is capable of drinking base-grade 91RON petrol to fill its 62-litre tank.
If you're after good fuel economy, the Captiva probably isn't the car for you.
The 2.4-litre petrol is quoted at 9.7L/100km on the combined cycle but, as we recently discovered, is more likely to return closer to 12.5L/100km.
Diesel fuel consumption on the official combined cycle is listed at 8.5L/100km but our most recent test yielded a slightly startling figure of 12.9L/100km. The diesel's performance, particularly in the gears, is better than either petrol but it appears you'll pay for it.
The big banger V6's official fuel consumption figure is listed at 10.7L/100km, but past CarsGuide reviews suggest 14.0L/100km is a more likely real world figure. As far as fuel economy goes, diesel vs petrol usually falls to the diesel, but not in this case.
Fuel tank capacity is identical across the range at 65 litres.
The Sportage’s engine choices don’t offer the most modern drive experience on the mid-size SUV market, but its locally tuned suspension really makes it stand apart from the pack. This means it’s at its best in most driving scenarios you’ll experience in Australia. I’ve driven Sportage variants on long-distance freeway drives, across the worst, most potholed streets Sydney’s CBD has to offer, as well as rutted gravel tracks on the other side of NSW’s Blue Mountains, and all of them behaved admirably, everywhere.
On the axis of sport-to-comfort I’d say the Sportage’s ride sits slightly to the sportier end of the equation. It’s a stiffer ride than the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, or the new Toyota RAV4, for example. Yet it seems to strike a more comfortable balance than the sporty CX-5.
The handling is really nice for an SUV this size, as I’ve said in previous reviews – it’s nimble and feels almost like you’re piloting a giant hatchback. For reasons I can’t seem to pin down, I vastly prefer the Sportage’s ride and handling to that of the Tucson. It just feels more balanced all round than its Hyundai cousin.
The engines are a bit of a letdown, however. While all are adequate for city-commuting duty, on the open road and up hills the petrol drivetrains get thrashy and noisy quickly – and at higher revs the limitations of these engines' outputs become apparent.
That having been said, both automatic transmissions are slick and predictable. When power is needed they also lock into gear nicely, unlike their CVT competition. We are yet to sample the re-introduced manual variants.
You sit on the Captiva rather than in it, a feeling encouraged by the flat, shapeless seats. It doesn't matter which Captiva you choose, the front seats are not exactly huggy but they'll certainly take people of all shapes and sizes.
You twist a funny knob where the key barrel used to be to start the engine. The view out front and out the sides is commanding as there is a fair bit of glass all around, with just the view out the rear window restricted as it's quite small. If you've got passengers, forget it, but the reversing camera will save the day there.
The ride is, for the most part, reasonable, but will deteriorate along with the road surface. The suspension isn't very quiet and the overall firm feeling delivers passable handling, which you'd expect from a big heavy machine like this. It doesn't have anything like the finesse of much younger metal from Hyundai, Kia and Mazda.
The diesel specs suggest strong performance and that's exactly what you get. It's by far the torquiest of the three engines and shifts the Captiva's two tonnes with reasonable verve. It's a noisy, grumbly unit but works well with the six-speed auto.
The engine specs of the two petrols don't really tell the story. While the V6 is quicker in a straight line, its extra weight knocks the shine off the torque increase and the engine itself isn't a shining example of modern engine tech. Actually, neither of them are, missing out on stop-start and other goodies.
This isn't an off-road review, but moderately ambitious mud-plugging is doable in the AWD models, with a ground clearance of 200mm but no low range or off-road mode. We even checked the manual to make doubly sure there wasn't a diff lock button hidden somewhere.
As ever, the idea here is that when you're buying a Captiva you're buying a lot of space and a cheap ownership experience.
Even just last year, the Sportage’s standard active-safety equipment would have been considered pretty good, even a whole point better than what I’ve given it here. The thing is, though, thanks largely to ANCAP and EuroNCAP’s far more stringent analysis of active technology in the last year, the game has been raised by many of the Sportage’s competitors.
It would be nice, for example, to see active cruise control and blind-spot monitoring available on the SX Plus grade, or, better still, available as an option pack across the range, a-la-Hyundai’s approach.
And now, with the introduction of high-tier active-safety suites on low-spec variants of the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester, it’s hard to give the Sportage flying colours in this department.
Still, the fact that auto emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist (LKAS) and driver-attention alert (DAA) ship on the base-model S is reasonably impressive.
Outside of that, all Sportage grades get six airbags, the expected stability and brake controls, as well as three top-tether and two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points.
The Sportage carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of this-generation’s launch in 2016.
The Captiva carries six airbags, ABS, traction and stability controls, hill descent control, brake force distribution, active rollover protection, brake assist and three ISOFIX points, in addition to the reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
The Captiva's maximum five star ANCAP safety rating was awarded in November 2011.
Kia continues to lead the pack with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is two years more than the acceptable segment standard. That’s also backed by eight years of roadside assist if you service at an authorised dealer.
There’s also a comprehensive capped-price-servicing program for the life of the warranty, averaging out to a not-particularly-cheap $391.71 per year for the 2.0L petrol, $408.14 for the 2.4L petrol, or $511.43 for the diesel.
The Sportage will have a battle on its hands in the coming years, with fellow Korean competitor, Ssangyong, looking to launch its new-generation Korando with a highly competitive seven-year ownership program.
As with all new Holdens, the Captiva owner benefits from a three year/100,00km warranty and lifetime capped price servicing. All prices are available on Holden's website.
Service costs for the diesel are significantly higher than the either of petrols, but do include oil changes.
The standard package also includes a year of roadside assist.
For common faults and complaints, check out our Holden Captiva problems page, which covers known automatic transmission problems, engine problems and diesel problems. There aren't any widespread diesel engine problems with the later version.
Resale value is often a consideration and we've looked at the last major update, released in 2014.
A seven seat Series II LS from 2014 - the second major update for the Captiva after the 2011 update addressed lingering problems - cost $30,490 when new and will trade at around $13000-$15000, below fifty per cent of the purchase price, with private sales a little higher.
An LTZ diesel from the same period sold for $41,490 and trades in the 45 to 50 per cent of purchase price and a little over 50 per cent in private sales.