As­so­ciate Edi­tor Dean Evans gets be­hind the wheel of Holden’s seven-seat SUV. And Arna Evans as­sesses its mer­its from the point of view of the mother of two young chil­dren.

BACK IN 2006, HOLDEN’S COM­MODORE WAS THE NUM­BER one sell­ing ve­hi­cle (just), Peter Brock was still ex­tolling the Gen­eral’s virtues, and Holden launched the Captiva, a GM badge-shared SUV from Korea.

There was a touch of dis­tain to­wards the Captiva at the time, it be­ing a re­badged Dae­woo Win­storm, and there was the an­ti­amer­i­can “who-needs-a-large-suv?” think­ing.

But over those past 11 years the world has changed, and big sedans like the Com­modore and Ford Fal­con have fallen out of favour, their place taken by utes and SUVS.

The Com­modore’s num­ber one sta­tus was taken by the Toy­ota Corolla in 2008, and the Ford Ranger in re­cent times, and the SUV mar­ket in gen­eral has gone from de­ri­sion to ac­cep­tance and af­fec­tion.

The Captiva has evolved and strength­ened over that time, but has re­mained a value-for-money propo­si­tion.

Here we are in 2017, in a topsy-turvy world, with the nine-model, all-auto, five- and seven-seat Captiva range sell­ing well.

Prices start at $38,490 for the 2WD 2.4-litre petrol LS, and top out at $56,990 for the diesel LTZ across

We sam­pled the top-spec LTZ, with seven seats, a 2.2-litre tur­bod­iesel de­vel­op­ing 135kw of max­i­mum power and strong peak torque of 400Nm and driv­ing through a six-speed auto.

The LTZ ticks ba­si­cally all the family ve­hi­cle boxes for prac­ti­cal­ity and equip­ment.

At 8.5 litres/100km quoted fuel econ­omy on the com­bined cy­cle, it does a good job on pa­per; un­for­tu­nately, we only man­aged those fig­ures on the mo­tor­way, with sub­ur­ban driv­ing push­ing it into the mid-10 litres/100km range which delivers around 600km per 65-litre tank of fuel.

But it’s a re­ac­tive, zippy thing to drive, the 400Nm from 1750rpm mean­ing there’s plenty in re­serve at all times.

Holden quotes 9.6 se­conds for the 0-100km/h, and that’s ex­actly what we saw on our tests; and though the 190kw V6 ver­sion is faster, it’s also a lit­tle thirstier.

And with 288Nm of peak torque, it’s well short of the diesel’s torque and drive­abil­ity, mak­ing the oil burner eas­ily the pick of the three en­gines, pro­vided you don’t mind a lit­tle more noise.

Much of what the Captiva of­fers is highly com­pe­tent with­out be­ing a stand­out, but the beauty of the LTZ is that it’s lo­cated in the up­per end of the law-of-di­min­ish­ing-re­turns car mar­ket: those around the $60,000 mark that of­fer so much, that to spend more on pre­mium badges or brands pro­vides di­min­ish­ing re­turns.

The LTZ is equipped with all the ex­pected mod-cons, like key­less en­try and au­to­matic door-lock­ing, elec­tri­cally-heated leather-look seats, auto lights (but not wipers), blind-spot warn­ings in the mir­rors, and Ap­ple/an­droid phone repli­ca­tion on to the seven-inch touch-screen.

This re­lies on the phone for nav­i­ga­tion, which is both a good and bad thing: Google Maps repli­cates fine, but I find Waze more user­friendly, which doesn’t repli­cate, which gets fid­dly when swap­ping ca­bles and Blue­tooth con­nec­tions and back and forth be­tween screens.

But it’s easy to look past that, be­cause there’s plenty of prac­ti­cal stor­age space, in­clud­ing a huge, deep cen­tre con­sole bin that fea­tures a slid­ing, dual cup-holder “lid.”

There are two charg­ing USBS, 3.5mm au­dio in­put, 12v sock­ets, hill hold and de­scent modes, eco mode, and Blue­tooth and a trip com­puter.

If there’s any­thing that dates the in­te­rior, it’s the cen­tral LED mes­sage dis­play, and the trip com­puter con­trols that are in­con­ve­niently lo­cated near the driver’s right knee.

The other sub-par area is the seats which are flat and not that sup­port­ive.

Front sen­sors prove a ne­ces­sity as much as help as the nose drops away from sight, and the re­vers­ing cam­era of­fers on/off guide­lines, which is handy when lin­ing up park­ing space mark­ings, or tar­get­ing a tow­ing hitch. Tow­ing lim­its are 750kg un­braked, and 2000kg braked.

The rear cabin is where the Captiva turns into an ap­pli­ance, do­ing ev­ery­thing well, with­out be­ing remarkable. The BMW X5style dot­ted side steps are use­able, and the split fold­ing seats are well sized, with a fold-down cen­tre arm­rest, though lack­ing any vent con­trols.

The third row seats flip down and pop up very eas­ily us­ing rear han­dles, and have re­tractable head­rests. Ac­cess to them is good, with the sec­ond row of seats fold­ing down and flip­ping up.

The large boot space nat­u­rally shrinks with the third row raised, but for all the stor­age and space it’s still im­pres­sive, con­sid­er­ing the Captiva is 300mm shorter than a Com­modore.

Steer­ing is ca­pa­ble, and the 11.9-me­tre turn­ing cir­cle is rea­son­able with­out be­ing remarkable. How­ever, the firm with­out

be­ing harsh ride qual­ity and low noise level are rather im­pres­sive given the LTZ’S on 19-inch 235/50s. The the sus­pen­sion is self­lev­el­ling when there’s a big load on board.

Against the likes of Mit­subishi Out­lander VRX, Kia Sorento or Hyundai Santa Fe, the Captiva rep­re­sents good value. It’s get­ting long in the tooth, but it’s helped by up­dates to styling and equip­ment, where it’s able to at least keep pace with the lat­est ri­vals.

It isn’t the new­est, best-equipped, fastest or most fru­gal SUV on the mar­ket, but it’s a solid, well-equipped and more than com­pe­tent all-rounder.

Above: Pleas­ing dash­board de­sign with easy-to-read in­stru­men­ta­tion. Left top: Engine is a 2.2-litre tur­bod­iesel which pro­vides good per­for­mance. Left mid­dle: Re­vers­ing cam­era of­fers op­tions of lines or a clear screen, which can help back­ing into a...

Holden’s Captiva has evolved in the 11 years it’s been on the mar­ket.

Cen­tre con­sole of­fers twin cuphold­ers and a lit­tle stor­age, or opens to re­veal a huge, deep bin.

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