Chevrolet virtually invented the sports utility vehicle when it launched the Suburban back in 1935. Since then, it's blessed the world with a host of all-purpose, four-wheel-drive vehicles, the latest of which is the Captiva, a seven-seater family SUV geared more towards ferrying your nearest and dearest about their daily lives than pounding around off the beaten track.
Our test model is the high-end LTZ model, which starts from £28,755. The range starts at £19,570.
If the Captiva looks familiar, that's because you've probably seen it before with a Vauxhall Antara badge on the bonnet. It's yet another feat of badge engineering on Chevrolet's part, but that's no bad thing, as the Antara was always a relatively attractive beast, and the same can be said of this new Captiva, which features a mildly tweaked front and rear for 2011.
The car's insides are relatively pleasant, too. The seating position is high, so both driver and front passenger have a good view of the road ahead. There's plenty of space for three behind the driver, and the boot has a pair of seats that fold up from the floor. Sadly, squeezing through the gap between the middle and rear seats requires the flexibility of a well-oiled Russian gymnast, so those forced to use the third-row seats will have drawn some very short straws.
There's an impressive 465 litres of room in the boot, but be warned that this drops to a pretty miniscule 85 litres if the third row of seats is in use. If you're embarking on a long road trip with six of your friends and family, you'll need to ensure everybody packs light.
Through the keyhole
The Captiva's vast cockpit is a pleasant place to put your feet up and engage in some gadget fondling. Our range-topping LTZ model features two information displays -- a 7-inch touchscreen providing access to the navigation and trip settings, and, below that, a smaller LCD strip dedicated to showing you what's going on with the car's audio system.
The former features a set of hard-wired buttons below it, which allow the user to switch quickly between the sat-nav and the trip computer, and to adjust the brightness of the screen. The buttons feel fairly tacky, but their presence is welcome, as they allow you to dart from function to function with ease.
The sat-nav is pretty good, too. Unlike some rival systems, it allows the user to enter full seven-digit UK postcodes, eliminating the need to enter lengthy street names. It also has a decent library of points of interest -- restaurants, parking lots, hotels and so on -- so you can find locations near your intended destination or current location. There's even an option to navigate to specific latitudes and longitudes, should you fancy venturing off the beaten track.