Chevrolet’s Captiva-ting all-rounder

Matt Joy says the Captiva sport utility vehicle shows what Chevrolet is capable of.

Value need not be a dirty word when it comes to buying a car. For some reason which remains entirely unclear, getting a bargain on any other purchase is a cue for some serious bragging – pay 10pc under the asking price on a house and you'd never shut up about it, but when it comes to cars the more you pay the better.

Well, it is if you're more interested in what a car says about you than what it actually does. For the sensible people among you, cars like the Chevrolet Captiva will be just the ticket. The Captiva has been a contender in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) sector since 2005, mixing the chunky looks and space that buyers are looking for with an impressive commitment to good value. Now there's a higher-specification LTZ model that packs even more kit in without asking for a major increase in outlay.

Despite competing with SUVs wearing premium badges and hefty price tags, the Captiva LTZ doesn't look out of place among them. It has the physical presence, without being a complete road hog, and the chunky, well-judged styling still stands out. The LTZ wears attractive alloy wheels as standard, and with its high-riding stance comes the all-important lofty driving position. Even so, this isn't a leviathan that will intimidate those used to smaller cars.

Climb aboard and the handsome exterior dimensions translates into generous interior space. Those up front have all the head and legroom they could wish for, while the second row is large enough to swallow three full-size adults. The standard privacy glass for the second row rearwards helps to create a more luxurious feel, as does the leather trim, fitted as standard and not something that features on many rivals at this price. It all contributes to the comfort levels inside allowing you to transport a full complement of adults, never mind children.

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Don't forget the third row of seats either. This is an SUV that can manage all combinations of people and luggage. With the third row in place, boot space is understandably limited to 85 litres. But with five up there is room for a hefty 465 litres, rising to 1,565 litres when converted to full-on van mode.

Not that it is at all van-like to drive however. LTZ models come with the 2.0-litre diesel engine as standard, and matched to a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox it provides the kind of fuss-free acceleration that relaxed driving is all about. With 236lb.ft of torque on offer it can handle big loads including those attached to a tow bar, and although it occasionally makes its presence felt when cold it is sufficiently refined that relaxed cruising is possible.

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Comfort is always the priority in a car like this of course, so there is a relatively soft suspension set-up. While the thrill-seekers out there may want for something more dynamic, the rest of us can get on with getting on with as little fuss as possible. Poor road surfaces barely register inside the cabin and even though an entertaining drive isn't its party piece, it won't shy away from a challenging piece of road either. The steering is easy-going and although there is inevitably a little body roll from such a tall car, it remains planted and stable. Electronic stability control is fitted as standard, a worthy addition to the suite of safety systems and backed up by four-wheel drive for peace of mind.

This is therefore a car that will ask very little of you, but do a great deal in return. Aside from setting a hot lap of Silverstone the Capitva can handle every situation with aplomb, and avoid costing you a fortune in the process.

It's also hard to resist the reassurance of four-wheel drive with the wintry weather, yet come next summer it will be just as happy down at the beach. Having bagged a British Touring Car title with its Cruze saloon, the Captiva is another car in the Chevrolet armoury that can do a sterling job of breaking down some preconceptions.

Model: Chevrolet Captiva 2.0 VCDi LTZ seven-seat, �28,145 on the road

Engine: 2.0-litre diesel unit developing 148bhp and 236lb.ft of torque

Transmission: Five-speed manual transmission as standard, plus on demand all-wheel drive.

Performance: 0-62mph 11.3 seconds; top speed 113mph

CO2 emissions: 197g/km

Economy: 38.2mpg

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