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Test Drives
20 Apr 09 11:32
Captiva a Tough Chevy SUV in a Bow Tie
John K Lindgren
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Chevrolet affectionately known as ”Chevy” appeared in the iconic 70’s rock song: ”took my Chevy to the levee - but the levee was dry - and the boys were drinking whisky’n rye” by Don McLean maybe referring to a red flat-bed Chevy pick-up truck.

American Pie is still played over and over again on the airwaves, CD-players and MP3s. Flash forward to 2007 and the roll-out of a new “Chevy” GM’s all-new compact SUV model Captiva designed & built by General Motors.

In Thailand ”Gee Emm’s” line-up currently consists of the sturdy Colorado pick-up trucks, the hot selling Optra sedans & estates and the new kid on the block, the Captiva SUV - Sport Utility Vehicle.

Styling concept
The name Captiva isn't really American. Perhaps, more of a global fusion moniker. But the vehicle looks every inch like an an authentic Chevrolet. Including the oversized “chevy” bow-tie badge on the grill. The first time I spotted a Captiva on the tarmac I thought it was a Porsche Cayenne ze ueber German supercar SUV price: a cool 12 million THB. From the distance I saw two large exhaust pipes, a skid plate, the impressive tall and dynamic rear, the huge bold brake lights and I could swear it was a Porsche Cayenne!

 Chevrolet Captiva
Captiva's chunky, wedge shape certainly looks the part, while the sloping roof-line, distinctive large front headlamps and chrome detailing provide it with an exclusive, upscale SUV feel. Visually, the Captiva ticks all the right boxes and also give it real off-road SUV credibility. “It is not what you've got that matters, it's what others think you've got”.

Cockpit controls
Our 2,4 LT sterling silver AWD (All Wheel Drive) Captiva came with the amazing seven-seat configuration plus all the bells and whistles; automatic lighting (nice when you enter a dark long tunnel), rain-sensitive wipers, electronic climate control control, leather-trimmed firmly upholstered seats, cruise control. And a fully integrated info-tainment unit and an in-dash six CD-player/MP3 and AM/FM all controlled from the chunky multi-function stering wheel. The center console houses the driver information system providing pertinent data including electronic climate control, outside temperature, compass, average fuel consumption and vehicle speed, and range for remaining fuel to pit stop.

Inside, the cabin is as smart and practical as it is roomy, and the instruments are all clearly laid out. We liked the dark firm leather upholstery in the the 2,4 LT top-of-the-line demo version we tested.The Chevrolet has a good, elevated and commanding driving position. The visibility is excellent, which makes maneuvering the car's bulky frame a breeze. But the parking sensors (“piip, piip…”), are still needed as the raised rear can mean it's difficult to judge reversing distances, especially in dark narrow areas.

Safety features
Safety is a major consideration to potential owners of SUVs and in this regard the Captiva is well appointed.There is a total of 10 airbags, which include those for front-seat passengers, along with curtain-shaped roof airbags and side airbags.
Additional safety is the rigid body shell structure, made of extra-strength steel. Other active safety features include Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), which increases braking pressure in an emergency, a Hill Descent Control (DCC), previously only available in the premium SUV’s like Range Rover and BMW X5, the HDC which slows the car down on steep downward inclines at the touch of a button, and Active Rollover Protection (ARP), which automatically detects heavy steering inputs and brakes the front outside wheel to slow down lateral acceleration, reducing the effect of the “panic braking” on the car's center of gravity

Over all top fit and finish. Including the delicious new car leather scent. For the school run, Captiva’s interior even has the option of a third row of seats, making this “Chevy” a full blown seven-seater “people carrier” with the help of some well-engineered seat-folding. The rearmost seats can be folded individually with a pull of a handle. Stowage for five-passenger cars is 465 litres (how many suitcases?) rising to 930 litres ( week-end mega shopping spree at Carrefour-TESCO) when you lower the second row. Maybe a tad fiddly. Nevertheless, loading items into the boot couldn't be much easier, because owners can choose to open only the window hatch, rather than the whole tailgate.

On the tarmac
On the road, we were impressed by the 2.4 liter petrol engine mated to a 5-speed smooth automatic transmission, with power and torque outputs of 140 horse power and 320Nm torque respectively, it had more than enough grunt to nip round Bangkok and to cruise comfortably the Bagna-Trad motorway. Good traction on dry and wet surface and the LT's 4x4 system sends torque to the rear wheels only if the front wheels begin to lose grip.Our Captiva was a bit soft on steering but no floating and wallowing as used to be the case with those big ol’ American SUVs. But this not an American SUV! This is more of a global SUV ready for the growing Asian auto markets.

Verdict: The Captiva 2,4 LT is an attractive SUV which should appeal to style and safety conscious families who need the capacity of a people carrier for the school run, but want a sporty and tough looking SUV machine for the weekends

How fast? 0-100 km/h in 11.5 seconds, top speed, flatout 185 km/h
How thirsty? 8-9 kilometer per litre on the combined cycle.
And how much is the Chevy SUV? 1,47 million THB

”took my Chevy to the levee”...
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