Spa­cious capsule

The Korean-built SUV with fam­i­lyfriendly seat­ing wasn’t a se­ri­ous off-roader

Herald Sun - Motoring - - USED CAR - with Graham Smith


HOLDEN was slow to pick up on the shift to SUVs. When it hit the mar­ket it did so with an im­ported model in­stead of go­ing the lo­cal route as ri­val Ford had done.

The Cap­tiva was one of many Korean-built mod­els as Holden moved away from lo­cal pro­duc­tion and Euro­pean im­ports.

For the fam­i­lies that in the main bought SUVs, the pri­or­i­ties were cabin space, a high driv­ing po­si­tion and seven seat ca­pac­ity.

A Holden badge was once a guar­an­tee of do­ing good busi­ness in this coun­try and the Cap­tiva quickly be­came a pop­u­lar choice af­ter its lo­cal de­but in 2006.

Ini­tially it could be had as a five-seater or a seven-seater with a petrol V6, auto and all­wheel drive but other vari­ants were steadily added.

As with the vast ma­jor­ity of SUVs, the Cap­tiva wasn’t a se­ri­ous off-roader. It nor­mally drove through the front wheels un­til lost grip was de­tected, then drive was split with the rear.

As few fam­i­lies re­ally want to take their cars on to rough bush tracks the Cap­tiva’s all­wheel drive was ideal.

In 2008 Holden recog­nised that most Cap­tiva own­ers were pay­ing for so­phis­ti­cated gear they re­ally didn’t want or need and re­leased a front-drive ver­sion.

Lighter and sim­pler than the AWD vari­ants, it was more eco­nom­i­cal, par­tic­u­larly in com­bi­na­tion with the 2.2-litre turbo diesel op­tion.

In ad­di­tion, Holden also had a 2.4-litre and a 3.2-litre V6 petrol op­tions and later added a 2.0-litre turbo diesel and 3.0-litre V6.

Five and six-speed au­to­mat­ics were the trans­mis­sion op­tions.


The Cap­tiva came from Dae­woo and that sets off warn­ing sig­nals for many peo­ple. The build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity of Dae­woo-built cars are vari­able at best.

Buy­ers of the Cap­tiva, es­pe­cially early ex­am­ples, should be wary. At the be­gin­ning, it sold well on the ba­sis of the Holden badge but dis­ap­point­ment fol­lowed when the Dae­woo qual­ity — which had been such a prob­lem with the brand when it first ap­peared in Aus­tralia — re-emerged.

Many Cap­tiva own­ers re­turned to deal­ers with the ECU warn­ing light on. Oth­ers needed re­place­ment com­put­ers to fix a raft of elec­tri­cal is­sues.

Start by check­ing that ev­ery­thing on a po­ten­tial pur­chase works. That won’t pre­vent prob­lems from oc­cur­ring later but you can avoid in­her­it­ing is­sues.

Some own­ers re­port that their cars can lose all power while they’re driv­ing along. In a cou­ple of cases it’s hap­pened at the worst pos­si­ble mo­ment leav­ing them ex­posed to dan­ger.

There have also been prob­lems with oxy­gen sen­sors in the ex­haust. En­gines have been re­ported for rough run­ning.

Get­ting the wheel align­ment right is dif­fi­cult, ac­cord­ing to me­chan­ics who say there isn’t enough ad­just­ment pro­vided. Look for un­even tyre wear as this is a sure sign that the align­ment is out.

The diesel en­gines have cam-tim­ing belts, so buy­ers need to be aware of the need to re­place them pe­ri­od­i­cally. The rec­om­mended in­ter­val is 90,000km.

The V6s have tim­ing chains but can suf­fer the same chain stretch­ing prob­lem as the Com­modore — it’s the same en­gine — and re­plac­ing a chain is ex­pen­sive. Avoid a V6 that’s run­ning roughly, of­ten a sign that the chain has stretched and the cam tim­ing is out.

Among sev­eral re­calls of the Cap­tiva, the most se­ri­ous re­lated to the con­nec­tion be­tween the steer­ing in­ter­me­di­ate shaft and the steer­ing rack that could lead to a loss of steer­ing.

Oth­ers were for fuel hose leaks that could re­sult in fires; one was for a re­duc­tion in brak­ing per­for­mance be­cause of a prob­lem with the brak­ing com­puter.

Check the gov­ern­ment re­calls web­site and con­sult a dealer to con­firm the rel­e­vant re­work has been done.


Robin Ad­cock: In the five months I’ve had my sec­ond­hand LX Cap­tiva it’s been in the work­shop for 12 weeks with prob­lems with the cruise

con­trol, airconditioning and wipers. Me­chan­i­cally it’s fine but the electrics are woe­ful. It’s been noth­ing short of a night­mare.

Sam Wat­son: Me­chan­ics love the Cap­tiva be­cause it makes them rich. Mine has had prob­lems with the trans­mis­sion, electrics, ran­dom power fail­ures and ter­ri­ble fuel econ­omy.

Allen White: I bought my 2007 Cap­tiva LX sec­ond-hand with 70,000km on it. It’s now done 120,000km and I’ve had no prob­lems with it. I love it.

Michelle Sav­age: My 2012 Cap­tiva had 44,000km on it when I bought it in 2014. It was fine un­til July this year, when the trans­mis­sion failed at 55,000km. Holden fixed it un­der good­will but I’m not happy with the car.


Noth­ing spe­cial, and can be un­re­li­able. Buy with care.

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