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Holdens well priced Captiva SUV diesel is light on fuel long on towing torque

December 11, 2007
Holdens well priced Captiva SUV diesel is light on fuel long on towing torque

We first saw the top of the range Holden Captiva Diesel at a New Zealand North Island dealership in Hamilton. The good pricing for what it offered drew us to it.

It replaces our V8 Statesman (RV). We are spoilt and wont go down market from Statesman comfort. Leather seating, sunroof, cruise and climate control are among essentials now.

But hi-tech up-to-date SUV AWD stuff and a fuel efficient diesel was high on the 'must-have' list too.

Part 2 in our series on towing and RV's

Overall we rate the Captiva auto diesels Sports Utility Vehicles towing performance as eight out of 10 with a Coromal Excel E541 tandem caravan of about 1300kg Tare weight. On test we felt the Captiva had plenty in reserve and would handle a loaded 1700kg caravan well.

The Active Select Mode (manual) override abilities of the five-speed gearbox were tried and then rejected. The Captiva is a modern Sport Utility Vehicle with plenty of sensors to help it do its job.

Pulling the shift into third only increased the rpm to 3500 and made no noticeable difference to pulling power or speed.

So the auto was left to its own choices. This means most towing is done in fourth gear at 2300rpm. Fifth comes in occasionally in downhill and flat easy going.

It can of course be brought in manually but as this produces no gains in the towing performance we don't bother stick shifting now.

We do not regard fuel consumption as a first priority when towing. Put weight behind a vehicle and you will use more fuel. But the Captiva did well by any consumption standards. It returned 13.8 litres per hundred kilometres in 4th with the Coromal Excel E541 tandem at about 95kmh.

With the Captiva the Excel tandem was far better with the Weight Distribution Hitch fitted. No big deal, but in windy going the rig felt a little flighty until the Weight Distribution Hitch went on.

Overall we found the Coromal E541 tandem smooth, easy towing. To give more context to that comment. We particularly compare with a popular 17'6'' single-axle Compass caravan pulled by a Holden V8 SS ute and a Ford Escape 4WD over thousands of kilometres. With both tow vehicles the Compass needed watching and was prone to sway in gusty going.
It did not like wind buffetting from passing trucks.

We have towed a lot of loaded tandem trailers. We can say that the Captiva, using the Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitch and Guardian Brake Controller in combination with the independent suspension of the Coromal has it all over the Compass hauled by the Holden and the Ford.

We towed at and above 100kmh. There were no problems. The result was predictable towing in the circumstances, but around 90kmh allows safer travel with much more margin for the unexpected and better fuel economy.

<!--mo1####mo2-->Captiva diesel hauls Coromal Excel tandem 541<!--mo3-->
Captiva diesel hauls Coromal Excel tandem 541

The new Captiva diesel model already has a healthy 50 percent of Captiva sales for Holden. There is a big demand for diesel in SUV's in the medium size vehicle market.

Our new company top of the range Captiva LX diesel has all the options. They include 7-seats and leather upholstery, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels, plus eight-way adjustable electric driver's seat and electronic climate control.

The Captiva diesels use a new 2.0-litre, common rail, 16-valve SOHC inline four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel engine that produces 110kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 320Nm at 2000rpm. This compares to 169kW and 297Nm (at 3200rpm) for the petrol models.

GM-DAT (nee GM-Daewoo) developed the engine in conjunction with Italian turbodiesel specialist, VM Motori, andit meets Euro IV emission standards.

The modern turbo diesel engine uses high-pressure direct fuel-injection (in this case a Bosch system) and a variable geometry turbocharger. The Captiva is the diesels first run in production.

The turbo diesel is matched to a five-speed manual transmission in the base SX model only. At around A$36,000 this is a deal worth looking at. We think the manual variant is geared significantly shorter than the auto. Coupled with a higher maximum braked towing capacity (2000kg versus 1700kg for the auto) this could suit those who want to tow as a first priority.

<!--mo1####mo2-->Captiva stern is  easy on the eye<!--mo3-->
Captiva stern is easy on the eye

The auto diesel has the same five-speed box as the petrol V6. It has the same internal ratios but a taller final drive.The longitudinally front mounted 1991cc engine has an aluminium alloy cylinder head and cast-iron engine block. The valvetrain includes 4-valves per cylinder actuated by a single overhead camshaft (SOHC).

The 2.0-litre engine benefits from a turbocharger to increase low down power, coupled with an air-to-air intercooler. It has a 17.5:1 compression ratio.

Fuel tank capacity is only 65 litres. Which gives a towing range of only about 400km in give and take conditions, but we have achieved 720km with the Captiva alone from a tank with the red low fuel light on.

This was a combination of city/freeway conditions with cruise control set at 100kmh, airconditioning off and sunroof closed.

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km (Captiva alone).

Fuel consumption towing: 14L/100km.

CO2 Emissions: 233g/km

Max Power: 110kW @ 4000rpm

Max Torque: 320Nm @ 2000rpm

<!--mo1####mo2-->Captiva office<!--mo3-->
Captiva office

The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine manages well with the 1779kg Captiva diesel in everyday driving.

Predictably, as with all smaller turboed diesels of this type, the 110kW diesel engine shows its limitations when under heavy towing load and the engine has to be revved to keep the torque in the diesels sweet spot.

The Holden owners manual talks about seven passengers and their luggage being a load issue.

Yes the seven passengers will make a significant load difference, but luggage for seven is not going to find space in the Captiva unless it is on each passengers lap.

The diesel Captiva auto diesel can tow a braked trailer of up to 1700kg. The big benefit is that Holden's diesel automatic Captiva range destroys the class leader - Ford Territory's SUV on fuel consumption.

Ford's petrol-only Territory dominates the medium SUV market in Australia. But Ford needs to find a cost-effective diesel option quickly to hold its leader position.

This is underlined by buyer interest in turbo diesel models in the Prado, Pajero, Kluger, Pathfinder, Santa Fe CRDi and the more passenger-oriented 4x4 utes like the Mazda BT 50 range.

Engine braking is really handy in the Captiva when towing on long descents.

Use the Active Select lever. Push the lever from D (drive) position to the left into the manual gate. Then its either up or down.

<!--mo1####mo2-->The Captiva dials are well placed and easy to read<!--mo3-->
The Captiva dials are well placed and easy to read

Pull the lever down once to shift down one gear. In Active Select only the five forward gears can be selected.

The Captiva features Electronic Stability program (ESP) and traction control is standard across the range. The ESP can be heard working on tow jobs to a point just short of being annoying.

It has all-wheel drive plus Active Rollover Protection (ARP) and a Descent Control System (DCS). ABS is also standard with driver, front passenger and side curtain airbags also standard on most models (curtain bags are optional on SX).

As a 7 seater, at the flick of a button one of the second row seats tilts up to allow access to the 3rd row of seats. Although small, they are comfortable with easy access and feature retractable seat belt and head rest.

When folding the 7th row seating back down, the head rest automatically tilts forward to minimise folded space.

<!--mo1####mo2-->Under the bonnet fluids check out easily<!--mo3-->
Under the bonnet fluids check out easily

We travel with the Engel fridgeon board and securely strapped into the handy tie down points

All rear seats fold flat for maximum load area. We have slept inthe Captivaon a couple of accasions on a double airbed and sleeping bag.

The sunroof is a Hollandia 700 top of the range in automatic sliding/tilting sunroofs. Made in the Netherlands by Webasto Product International, it features soft touch controls which can be preset for preferred opening positions.

It has auto close function when the key is turned off there is jamming protection.

It also has a tinted glass panel that is heat and UV resistant. The sunroof has a full three year warranty on parts and labour.

This model sunroof was also fitted as standard equipment in our (RV) 2001 Holden Statesman and is used by makers of most prestige cars in Australia. It takes 1 1/2 days to fit.

<!--mo1####mo2-->Room  for the Engel<!--mo3-->
Room for the Engel

Performx Charcoal coloured window tint was used when tinting the Captiva's windows which have a lifetime guarantee (while the owner owns the vehicle).

The Captiva LX Diesel cost $A46,000 on the road plus $A2500 for the sunroof option.

So $A48,500 for the seven-seater turbo diesel top of the range model is an affordable option.

We towed a Coromal Excel E541 pop-top tandem caravan.

<!--mo1####mo2-->Captiva sunroof works well<!--mo3-->
Captiva sunroof works well

The kitchen has a 4-burner stove (1 electric 3 gas)/grill, microwave and 3-way fridge.

Tow ball weight is 135kg.

Tare (unladen weight) 1314kg.

E541 caravan Rec Retail Price (Melbourne) $A31,900 plus on road costs.

Editor's note: Weights are a guide only and vary between models. Caravans with showers and other options fitted will be heavier.

As tested: E541 double-bed.

It has rollout awning.

Towing height 2080mm unladen.

Three sliding baskets under the stove.

Toilet storage provision.

Standard features:

Extruded aluminium frame, internal lining and aluminium cladding glued and riveted to frame

Full length Pop-Top roof


Stove - 4 burner (1 electric, 3 gas) grill

<!--mo1####mo2-->Double bed comfort Excel E541 tandem<!--mo3-->
Double bed comfort Excel E541 tandem

Front storage boot with moulded boot lid, gas struts, lockable, lined and sealed to store gas bottle - gas approved

Full length galvanised steel chassis

Light truck steel belted radial tyres 8 ply

Rollout awning

All side frames sealed to body

Pop-Top skirt - mildew and UV resistant. Waterproof Insulated roof and walls plus removable flyscreens on Pop-Top roof skirt

The Pop-Top vinyl section is held in by a nylon keeper (not screwed or stapled)

Aluminium water tank protector

Lockable water tank filler

Mains pressure tap

Tap on A-frame

Triple lock security door

Towing height 2080mm unladen (Except E547S)

Ply floor glued and fastened to chassis

Galvanised steel plate above main door

Double bed extension

3 sliding baskets under stove (most models)

1 basket under single bed

1 flap door under single bed

Solid ply bench tops

Gas struts to double bed

<!--mo1####mo2-->Good kitchen space and equipment E541 tandem<!--mo3-->
Good kitchen space and equipment E541 tandem

Outside power point

TV shelf (most models)

Positive locking cupboard door catches

Self-closing hinges

Pressure hatch

Toilet storage provision

Battery compartment with diode protection

12v lighting system

Factory fitted options:

Air-conditioning, inner spring mattress, Oven. Sports pack.

Standard features: Independent suspension, Aluminium frame, Awning, Battery

system, Gas/Elec stove.

Towing height unladen 2080mm.

Overall height with pop-top up 2480mm.

Manufacturer: Australian built by Coromal Caravans, 25 Harrison Road, Forrestfield, WA.

Editor's Note: Also See -

Editor's Note; January 18 2008.
Here are real figures checked against GPS for this weeks GoSee staff conference between Geelong/Canberra trip with the GoSee Captiva LX diesel on the Hume and Barton Hwys.

The Holden Captiva had 4 persons + luggage 1 way / 3 persons + extra luggage return.
Weather 23 - 35 degrees. Strong head winds for the first two hours of the return trip.
AC operating.
Speed: 100 - 112 kph.
Fuel Used: 150.8 litres
Kms travelled: 1,743
Cost of fuel: $228.40
Ave $1.51 per litre
Ave 13 c per km travelled
= 8.65 litres/100 kms travelled
= 11.6 kms travelled / litre
=32.8 miles per gallon (formula- litres/4.545=gallons, kms/8x5=miles)
Ave speed 85 k/h
Time (incl driving around Canberra x 3 days) 20.4 hrs

We noted that vehicles with sports branding and bigger 6-cylinder and V8 engines were cruising much more slowly than on previous trips. Many were running at 95 to 100kmh.

We think this is for economy reasons. Also for the first time in years of driving the Hume no caravan towed past us. We saw many combinations from diesel 4WD to V8 petrol towing caravans. Most were towing at an economic 90kmh.
<!--mo1####mo2-->Rolling up for the road the pop-top to come down<!--mo3-->
Rolling up for the road the pop-top to come down
<!--mo1####mo2-->Captiva  has an interesting  profile<!--mo3-->
Captiva has an interesting profile
<!--mo1####mo2-->Rear seat beside the fridge<!--mo3-->
Rear seat beside the fridge