Opinion Desk: Chevy Should Offer The Captiva To Consumers56
This article is part of the GM Authority Opinion Desk series, where the GM Authority crew shares exactly what’s on the tips of their tongues and minds.
Small, practical, efficient, nimble. That’s how a non-auto-enthusiast car shopper described his 2009 Saturn Vue to me earlier today. While in line at a local Mexican joint, I saw a guy — let’s call him Mike — pull up in a Vue; so I decided to strike up a conversation. Wouldn’t you do the same? Hey, he seemed like a guy I’d want to have a beer with.
To my surprise, Mike just returned from several test drives. He’s in the market to replace his Vue with the same car… which is impossible, since Saturn is no more and the Vue is sold as the Captiva Sport to fleets only. Bummer.
So Mike has driven any and every compact crossover he could think of that he thought deserves his attention: Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, VW Tiguan, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Rogue. He described the first two as “nice but insubstantial”; the Tiguan as too small and — referring to the time in which they were engineered — the Escape and RAV4 as “older than my Vue”. Good point.
Mike also drove the Chevy Equinox, but came away unimpressed, saying something along the lines of “its more than I would ever need.” So Mike is down to the CR-V and Rogue. And he wants to buy new, so an out-of-fleet Captiva Sport ain’t gonna cut it. Mike also would prefer to buy American (he’s Patriotic like that). So he’s going to wait a month or two and most likely buy the new Ford Escape, since it’s as close to the Captiva as he can get, but wrapped in a sexy design inside and out with tech up the wazoo.
That’s when I realized that General Motors is being incredibly foolish by not offering the Captiva to end users.
Rebadged Saturn… who cares? Old design… so what? The Vue/Captiva Sport is still sold in Europe today as the Opel Antara (and them Europeans are picky buyers) and in Oceania as the Holden Captiva 5. It’s still a good car that’s safe, but in need of a few small updates (like a USB port). And if not for Saturn, which in my opinion significantly contributed to the pitfall of Old GM, this car would have been a Chevrolet.
Some facts about the Vue/Captiva Sport to mull over while Mike buys his Escape (and never looks back):
- The Vue was and still is a solid mass-market vehicle
- We’re not talking about trying to sell $30,000 G8s to young kids with no credit history and an hourly job at the strip mall
- It was designed by GM Europe in collaboration with GMDAT (Daewoo). The current fleet-only Captiva Sport is made in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico — on the same line as the SRX
- Captiva is being offered to fleets for $23,423 — a price that could be dropped by as much as $5,000
- It offers the same engine choices as the Equinox and Terrain
- It drives like a champ (drive one!)
- The upcoming Chevy sub-compact crossover that’s related to the Buick Encore/Opel Mokka will be significantly smaller than this car
- It’s rated at 28 MPG on the highway and 20 MPG in the city
- It offers all-wheel drive
- Production of the Equinox and Terrain is at full capacity, with no headroom to crank out any more units
- Ford is spanking GM when it comes to compact and midsize crossovers
At the end of the day, GM is getting beat hand over fist (by Ford) and its crossover offerings are too few and far between. One can purchase a well-equipped Kia Sorento with three rows for $25,000. The least expensive GM product with three rows is the Chevy Traverse, with a base price of $30,000. Competitive much? Not really. Chevy needs to offer a third row (at least as an option) on the the Equinox/Terrain and introduce the Captiva Sport as a compact offering. Only then will the Bow Tie have a truly competitive CUV lineup.
Here’s my question: what does Chevy have to lose by offering the Captiva Sport to the public at large? And what does it have to gain? The comments are awaiting!
This article is part of the GM Authority Opinion Desk series, where the GM Authority crew shares exactly what’s on the tips of their tongues and minds.
Editor’s note: photos are of Latin American-market Captiva Sport.
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Thank you Alex, I will be seeking out a used Captiva at some point… It hard to believe they are not making an updated version of this car…
I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. I think that competition is too great, and that GM should let them buy their ugly ford escapes for a year until they unravel something really competitive.
The Captiva *is* competitive. It sells very well (as Antara) in Europe — with some cabin/tech upgrades and different trims. And the Euro compact CUV market is more competitive than that of North America.
They need to start somewhere and improve on it — Captiva/Vue is a great starting point. Because as far as we know, there is nothing else planned for this segment except for the Chevy variant of Encore.
Also, my prediction is that the new Escape is going to take the market by storm and sell in even greater volumes than the outgoing model, which was already the segment sales leader. Ugly or not.
I believe this would be a great car to add to the market, but with a major refresh first.
Kevin — what would you like to see changed/updated in the refresh?
No, I don’t want to see GM sell the Captiva to U.S consumers. That would open the door for excuses not to give us a Chevy equivalent to the Buick Encore. The Encore to date is the most complete vehicle for the commuter who also needs a bit of utility – small, efficient turbo engine, elegant interior, flat-folding seats (even in the front), quiet, smooth ride, rack to facilitate vacation/recreation, etc. More than ever, there are lots of reasons to want an American-made vehicle, but right now there is nothing available that doesn’t leave out at least one of these elements.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
1. The compact crossover segment is much, much more valuable and voluminous than whatever segment the Chevy variant of the Encore will occupy.
2. Encore is much smaller than Vue/Captiva. The two could share in the crossover segment in much the same way as the Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, and next-gen Impala:
Subcompact CUV – Encore equivalent
Compact CUV – Vue/Captiva
Midsized CUV (3 rows) – Equinox
Fullsized CUV – Traverse
Alex I think the Chevy just needs three. Subcompact, compact,fulsized.
To achieve this I would downsize the equinox a little bit and make it an escape competitor and the traverse an explorer competitor.
I dont think Chevy needs 3 SUVs with a third row seat.
Despite selling well, I think the edge is a dying product and a segment that chevy need not compete with because the segment will go away as compact crossovers become almost as large as midsize while offering much better fuel economy.
Hmmm… tell Ford, Toyota (Highlander) or Honda (Pilot) that!
I think it’s safe to assume that in the long run, full-sized body-on-frame SUVs will be replaced by full-sized crossovers (Traverse, Explorer, CX-9, Veracruz, Durango, new Pathfinder). So buyers of the full-sized SUVs will move to those models.
Some, however, will downsize — and something like an Edge, Highlander, and next-gen Santa-Fe would be perfect for them… with an optional third row. I hope the Equinox gets here at some point.
And then there’s the compact and subcompact segments which don’t need to offer 3rd rows one bit.
So if you assume the eventual/gradual death of full-sized SUVs, then there will only be two crossovers with a third row: full-sized (Traverse) and mid-sized (Highlander).
The one thing we need to remember, though, is that most CUVs are inexpensive to build if/when done right — as they are simply “raised wagons” of their segment/sedan counterparts.
True but the edge or equinox or cx-7 does not offer a third row seat. And I meant mid size SUVs that do not offer third row seat will die as they will not have really any reason to be bought over the compact SUVs.
The mid size segment must either evolve and get a small third row seat or all of their sales will be cannabilized by the compact offering. I.e: I would take the new escape over the edge anyday. You get better fuel economy, its cheaper, and has about the same room and seating as the edge.
Ah yes. Totally agreed. The Edge and CX-7 are “old school thinking” CUVs that are bound to get a 3rd row, in my opinion. The same goes for the Equinox. Not sure why they’d make a CUV that’s squarely in the mid size category but without a third row. It could even have been stretched by a few inches to make for more 3rd row room without significantly adding weight, etc.
You can just get a Encore for that matter. Alex is right, Chevy does need a compact cuv but in my opinion it has to be refreshed (up to date) like new fascia, headlights, taillights etc. With great looking interior and of coarse latest gadgets.
Alex, I’m well aware of the size differences, and as much as I love your list, I just don’t see it happening (for the U.S.) any time soon given GM’s current leadership.
While I have your attention, let me just say that I love your site. You guys are providing a wonderful forum. Thanks.
I just have to wonder if GM will follow Ford in its decision to not offer a CUV smaller than the new Escape in North America. The new EcoSport is a Fiesta-based crossover that looks awesome… but it’s not coming to my knowledge:
So if a crossover segment is to suffer, it will most likely be the subcompact one. But maybe Ford is looking at a different set of market data or has different sales/volume targets than GM. Anything is possible.
PS: Thanks for the complements mate! Just tell all of your friends about us when the opportunity presents itself 🙂
but then the captiva is pretty heavy though
I don’t think that matters much. Your average buyer doesn’t know or care how much a car weighs, let alone compare this to the weight of others.
However, I truly appreciate the “extra poundage” of most GM vehicles. It gives them that special “solid” feeling, especially at high speeds with a significant amount of cross wind. Case and point: Cruze vs. Elantra. Cruze drives and feels like much “more” car… and gets better economy to boot.
Well, the age old question…should fleets get anything special as opposed to every-day consumers? The resounding answer is NO. The Saturn Vue is 1 of our best selling vehicles of any style. We try to keep 3-5 on the lot at all times, but it is getting increasingly harder to find ones left in decent shape. The people that have them don’t want to give them up.
I firmly believe the Captiva should be released to the public, and I’m sure it will sell well…if it isn’t made available, then bring us something similar in size and do it fast. GM has the parts, the production lines…they’re making the vehicle…make more & make them available…duh…kind of seems like a no-brainer.
Additionally, GM, Chevy especially is gtting mutilated by the Cherokee, the new Durango, the Explorer, etc. as far as a 3 row vehicle that you can go off-road & mudding in. Please GM, bring us the new, beefed-up trailblazer…and bring us the Captive, and for good measure, open up the Caprice and make it here. We have lots of plants empty that could use new lines and new work, and to the GM Executives…in case you haven’t heard, there are a few million people in this country that would like to have a decent-paying job.
GM has a golden opportunity to quash the bad image & bad press and become a hero instead of the villan…the (multi-)million dollar question…will they use common sense and do the right thing, or will they continue to make the American people suffer?
Sorry, in earlier post, meant Vue is a best-selling used vehicle.
Oh and just think…Captiva/Vue…2.0 turbo or 2.5 turbo, E-Assist, 38-45+ MPG highway…hmmm strangest thing…just might sell 1 or 2 of ’em.
I saw a captiva on the road for first time, looks phenomenal, I know it looks similar to the Vue, it was a black version, GM is smart bringing this name plate into the market even if through fleet sales. The Bowtie on the back is a little over sized for the space it occupies, the interiors are very nice, this vehicle would sell extremely well if sold through dealers; heck they should be selling rebadged Aura’s to fleets as well; also bring the other Euro Captiva stateside as well… I love that vehicle…
Bringing the Euro Captiva to the States would result in the replacement of the Equinox — a move I’m purely in favor of. The Captiva looks better than the ‘nox and has a third row to boot! And although I haven’t driven one, I can’t imagine it driving any worse than the Equinox.
In addition, GM needs to globalize its crossover offerings (with the exception of the Traverse) — and that means merge the Captiva and Equinox lines.
I think the CaptiVue is “yesterday’s product” that should stay right where it is in the rental fleets. GM needs to reach into the future, not the past to freshen its fleet.
I think Ford has the CUV segment broken down fairly well, with less blurred lines.
While the Edge is an older design, you can bet Ford will replace it with a new CUV based on the fantastic new Fusion (a car which makes the 2013 Malibu look dated). The Fiesta-based EcoSport looks great and since it’s a “One Ford” product, Ford could easily bring it here if management thought Ford needed something smaller than the Escape. Ford may be letting Buick test the waters with the Encore before it makes any decision to bring it to the US.
I still think GM’s SUV/CUV strategy is confusing to consumers and needs to be more clearly defined. Toyota, Ford, Honda & H/K seem to be using the same market research to position their lineups. I think it would benefit GM to fix its line up with more clearly-defined segments and bringing the old and a bit tired-looking CaptiVue back is the wrong answer for the “new” GM.
Absolutely. GM’s CUV lines need to be more defined. But what about the CaptiVue (I like that name) is yesterday’s product in your opinion?
The car drives, rides, and looks better than most compact CUVs in my book…
I love the name too! 🙂
To my jaundice eye, the CaptiVue seems “old” compared to the Escape, Tucson, Sorento & CR-V which all sport new sheet metal and updated interiors. Remember, in LA, Chevrolet has a hard time breaking through the Asian onslaught. Even Ford is seeing a resurgence in So Cal (which is a big deal for Ford). Not so much for Chevy.
To be competitive, it would need a refresh, both inside and out, and I’m not sure GM wants to spend its money to do that. It is spending a ton of money on the Encore introduction. I’ve only looked inside the rental Captiva, but it doesn’t look updated. GM doesn’t need to present this to the automotive press as it will be slammed as a warmed over design from 5 years ago (which it is).
A segment that no one is addressing is the “box” segment that was revived by the Kia Soul and, to a lesser extent, the Scion xB. The Soul is a huge hit for Kia. The Track’ster concept in Chicago is fantastic and likely to make production and Kia may even consider the Soul’ster too. It’s got lots of room for the busy life of the coveted Gen Y/Boomerang 80 million strong demographic. GM could use something in this category and it could be filled by a new compact CUV to compete against the Escape as well as something “cool” like the Soul.
@Todd — agreed. It would need a refresh, but nothing major. Some new materials and tech for the interior (similar to 2013 GMC Acadia) and maybe some exterior enhancements. Having driven one of these Captivas recently, though, it’s clear to me that the vehicle has it down and is a very, very, very solid starting point.
It drives like a champ, looks good, and does everything you’d want a compact crossover to do. In fact, I think it’s better than the Sportage/Tucson and new CR-V from a driving perspective; give it some updates — and it will win in the other areas as well.
Parts of Saturn are making a come back in GM eh!
No dent-resistant polymer panels.
I think if they do bring the Captiva in then they might have to revamp the car because I think you don’t want to make the press saying that oh GM just brought the vue and rebadged it as the Captiva(it’s true since now it’s a fleet). But I do agree that they should bring it to the market though.
Yeah, it most likely would get panned by the uninformed press… oh the illustrious media 🙂
I don’t see why it would be so bad to take the Good parts of bad GM and put them into the new GM. 🙂
Alex- I think a simple refreshing would make it great. I understand this is a fairly entry level car, but I think this would look great with a premium version of the dashboard used in the Cruze. This seems like a great car for active safety, like Adaptive Cruise, Lane Departure, Cross Detection, Collision Alert, etc. Chevy MyLink would be great as well. All these optional, however, to keep the car in the market for “bare bones” car buyers The 2.5 I-4 as a base engine with the 2.0T as an option would be great as well.
To kevins point, and we have talk a little about this I think they should consider bringing Chevy more upscale especially in the LTZ models, but also the other brands like Buick, so basically if you buy an LTZ Cruze you would feel like you just stepped into a 3 series BMW..
Alex correct me if I am wrong. I am starting to think people are too busy looking at each of GM’s brands as separate peaces and not part of a whole company. When I think of Chevrolet I think affordable. When I think of Buick I think semi-luxury. When I think Cadillac I think luxury as far as GMC, well I don’t think of it at all honestly but from what people are saying its upscale.
So you have to draw lines for each brand. Chevrolet should not compete with Buick or GMC or Cadillac and vice versa.
Also I didn’t mean that in any negative way. That’s just something I have noticed as I read peoples comments. I love GM and I want to see it succeed and I bet all of you do as well. 🙂