Motors: Chevrolet Captiva

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Already established as a solid and popular option at the budget end of the compact seven seat SUV market, this further improved version of Chevrolet’s first generation Captiva has a smarter front end and a package of trim improvements to keep it current. It’s also better value these days.

Get behind the wheel and the raised driving position that SUV customers love so much is present and correct.

The original Captiva featured Chevrolet’s first diesel engine of the modern era and though that 150PS 2.0-litre unit was a decent first effort, what was just about acceptable back in 2007 was sounding distinctly rough three years on.

So its replacement in 2011 with the 2.2-litre engine still used here was timely. The entry-level frontdriven Captiva has a 163PS version of this unit, but most AWD versions have the torquier 184PS derivative we tried, good for rest to sixty in 9.3s on the way to 124mph in manual form or 9.8s and 118mph if the slight clunkiness of said gearchange causes you instead to opt for the redesigned 6-speed automatic transmission.

It isn’t a Land Rover-rivalling set-up, aimed more at muddy carparks than mountains, but useful approach and departure angles, Hill Start Assist to get you up steep slopes and Hill Descent Control to help you down them all mean that this car should be able to handle almost anything most owners will come across.

Since 2011, this car has made a more powerful visual statement, something that Chevrolet hope to have further enhanced with a range of small but significant aesthetic tweaks. So there are now LED tail lamps, angular chrome exhaust tips and a remodelled bumper. Up front, there’s a smarter lower bumper and a revised grille mesh as well as restyled fog lamps. Stylish 18-inch alloy wheels hope to further enhance the Captiva’s road presence.

The airy and spacious cabin gets smarter fabrics, trim materials and colours but still isn’t the classiest in the segment.

The instruments feature signature Chevrolet ice-blue backlighting with everything being easy to read and falling neatly to hand. It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position too, thanks to plenty of adjustment through both seat and steering wheel.

The Captiva is something of a forgotten choice in the compact 4x4 segment but one that would probably suit many families very well. It may not have the street-cred of some CR-V, RAV4 or Freelander-class compact SUVs, but it undercuts most of them on price and offers seven seats instead of five.

For the right money, this would be a tempting choice for many active families.

Yours might well be one of them.