Straddling the boundary between compact and medium size and offering both five and seven-seat configurations, the Holden Captiva comes in three trim levels -“ SX, CX and LX, in both petrol and diesel variants, and the Maxx in petrol only.

Captiva’s styling is chunky and bold, with pronounced contours on the bonnet running back to the rear, big light clusters, subtly bulging wheel arches and a prominent Holden logo on the grille crossbar.

Across the range skid plates suggest you will be safe fording rocky creeks, or at least tackling the speed bumps at the supermarket. Because despite any ability to get off the bitumen and into the wild, the natural habitat for most of the Captiva sales will be the urban jungle, particularly with the seven-seater version’s ability to haul large numbers of family, friends and gear in a variety of configurations.

The passenger seats all flip, flop and fold flat in seconds to give various combinations of space for passengers and payload, and several storage compartments are scattered throughout the interior, including a wet bin in the base model. You can also add extras like roof rails or pod, bike carrier, car fridge and cargo tray to customise your carrier capacity.

All seats -“ whether five or seven -“ get a lap-sash belt, and the twin front airbags are joined by curtain bags as standard on all levels except the SX, where they are an option. The cabin is refined and comfortable, dressed in leather on the two upper levels, and with satin metallic accents and high-tech accents following the bold styling without being too full on.

Holden has made safety a strong point with standard fitting of four-wheel discs with ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, hydraulic brake assist, electronic stability program, traction control, descent control, and active rollover protection. But there’s no rear parking sensor as standard, but it’s available as an option.

The active all-wheel drive system runs as 100 percent front drive, with an electronically controlled differential sending up to 50 percent to the rear wheels only when the system senses the front ones are losing traction.

The petrol engine on the road is smooth and pretty damn keen about the workload, but for urgent overtaking you are best served by slipping the gearshift over to the sequential side and flicking it down a couple of notches. However first you need to work out your up from your down, because the lever curiously shifts in the opposite direction to the one in the Holden Commodore -“ a feature that gave us a couple of interesting moments on the test drive. The ride is smooth without being sloppy, but the tallish proportion of the body means there’s a bit of body roll in cornering.

Those who are intent on lugging stuff around will be glad to hear the towing capacity is a useful 2000kg, but will have to watch the 11.5m turning circle in tight streets.

The other good news is that fuel consumption comes in at not much more than a large family sedan, with a claimed combined driving figure of 11.5l/100km for the petrol and 8.6l/100kms for the diesel.

All these factors should add to the Captiva’s attractiveness, so if you’re looking for a practical SUV that can seat up to seven people, has all the mod cons and is easy to live with, the Holden Captiva will definitely warrant a closer inspection.

AUTO SPECS
Price: $35,990 -“ $43,990
Engine: 3.2-litre V6 petrol, 2.2-litre 4-cyl. turbo diesel
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 5-speed automatic
Power: 169kW, 207Nm; 110kW, 320Nm
Fuel: 11.5, 8.6

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