The Road Ahead : 01-Aug-2011
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 54 THE ROAD AHEAD AUG/SEP 2011 MOTORING ROAD TEST convenient features in other Captiva 7 grades such as a space-saving push- button electric park brake, hill start assist, six airbags, electronic stability control (ESC), bluetooth and wireless music streaming. The presentation, however, reflects Captiva's budget focus. The front seats don't offer the same level of comfort as the Grand Cherokee or Territory, while the dash styling and switch positioning is somewhat a miss-match of shapes and placement. Being the smallest, passenger space -- particularly width and leg room in the second row -- is the tightest, but still acceptable. The third row, however, takes the points as it folds easier and is more comfortable than the TX Territory's optional third row seat. To gain sufficient leg room in the Territory, third row required compromising other seating positions. With some local input, Captiva's 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and upgraded suspension is a major step forward over the previous model, but still not class-leading. Like most other diesels in this class, the engine is a four- cylinder. It develops more power, uses less fuel and produces lower emissions than the 2.0-litre diesel it replaces. Although it's not as powerful nor as strong in outright performance as the Ford and Jeep's six-cylinder engines, the Captiva diesel's 135 kW of power and handy 400 Nm of torque is pulling a significantly lighter body. Appropriately matched gearing in the six-speed automatic puts the torque to good use in everyday driving as well as helping Captiva acquit itself better than expected on sandy tracks where insufficient ground clearance proved to be the vehicle's limiting factor. A dislodged fuel return line meant we were unable to record an accurate fuel consumption figure for the off-road section, but in everyday on-road operation Captiva's average fuel consumption of 9.3 litres/100 km was similar to Territory. Over most surfaces, the ride is comfortable but the handling and light steering tends to feel vague. In shopping centre car parks, the small size is a plus but its large turning circle becomes quite noticeable. A symphony of background sounds from the engine, road, wind and body rattles also made our Captiva the noisiest of the group. JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE LAREDO In the Laredo, Jeep provides a swag of gear for your money. It is rare to find an entry level version with heated front seats, keyless entry and start, Xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, eight-way power adjustment on both front seats, reversing camera and more -- all together. Laredo is very well endowed with safety gear, including a knee-airbag but has not yet been ANCAP safety tested, while the Captiva achieved a four-star and Territory a five star ANCAP rating. Climbing into the Grand Cherokee, thick pillars and large centre console give the big cabin an enclosed feel, but it also creates a sense that this is a solidly built, serious 4WD. It has a functional layout and upmarket ambience -- despite the awkward foot-operated park brake. Poor vision to the rear when changing lanes or reversing, however, will be a concern for some drivers. Grand Cherokee is a comfortable five-seater with a spacious luggage compartment and flat-folding rear seat. Head and leg room, depending on the front seat positioning, is similar to the Territory, although it is not quite as wide across the back seat. Three adults can sit in the back but it is a little tighter than in the Territory. Off road, our Laredo (with Jeep's new standard Selec-Terrain system, which features five settings to match the conditions and the optional Quadra- lift air suspension) breezed through everything when the other two were making hard work of the sandy tracks. Even so, its petrol engine did need plenty of revs at times. This strong off-road ability is exactly what we would expect from Jeep but, unlike past models, it no longer comes at the expense of on-road finesse. For its size, the Grand Cherokee is IMAGES: FORD TERRITORY TX AWD.