The Road Ahead : April May 2007
58 APR/MAY 07 Holden's done a fair job of cultivating Captiva. Throttle response is swift, the V6 feels strong and the transmission shifts and kicks down promptly, although the latter promotes engine roar. Captiva MaXX lacks subtlety over rough roads with a firm, jiggly ride, however it handles capably, offers decent steering feel and accuracy, and grips well. There's a little body roll. MaXX's brakes are progressive but were middle of field in stopping distances. Santa Fe brakes well initially but its weight quickly numbs the pedal and saps its ability. Weighty issues also undermine per formance. Santa Fe hands rivals an advantage of up to 422 kg. And, yet, the diesel is no dud, eager between 2000 and 4000 rpm and changing up gears in a smooth, convincing manner. However, it struggles to kick down as quickly and needs manual inter vention to extract its best. It is also less agile, more top heavy and offers less steering feedback. Santa Fe has a soft, mostly disciplined ride, and an annoying engine note on light throttle. Outback is the quietest, ahead of Santa Fe, then CX-7 and finally Captiva. Off-road A crossover curse is likely to strike any brave souls who venture too far off the blacktop in these cars. For star ters, there is no low-range on offer, and while Hyundai offers a 50/50 lock mode on Santa Fe, it only works up to 30 km/h. Sand and mud can cause vehicles with on-demand 4x4 systems some grief. Even the AWD Outback struggles in sand. Lift diagonally opposite wheels off the ground and progress halts, while road-biased tyres, minimal ground clearance, limited underbody protection and scant axle ar ticulation are other indicators of their limitations. However, all per form with grace on gravel, the Subaru the most rewarding and communicative of all. Santa Fe has generous approach, depar ture and ramp over angles, while Holden has hill descent control. CX-7 and Captiva have limited-use spare tyres. CX-7 also has little ground clearance. Conclusion These crossovers are conser vative. Think high-riding, modern interpretations of a station wagon. Remove Subaru from the equation and claims of AWD assurance should also be taken with a grain of salt. None has any real off-road prowess. Holden's sharply priced Captiva range ranks as the best arrival yet from GM Daewoo. However, its weaknesses include build quality and practicality, economy and ride. Subaru's car-like offering brings a high standard of comfor t and refinement, plus solid driving credentials, but struggles on per formance and value. Which leaves the turbo-powered vehicles on higher ground. It's hard to advocate a vehicle with such an alarming thirst, however CX-7 has enough attractive points to sell well. Its handling, per formance, build, features, comfor t and safety are likely to over whelm concerns over maintenance and fuel. For a car that ticks all the boxes and won't break the bank, it's hard to go past Santa Fe. Its mass makes driving a bit of a chore but for value, practicality, space, ride and economy, it has few peers. WHAT THE STARS SAY Outback CX-7 Santa Fe Captiva 3.0R Luxury SLX CRDi MaXX Price Equipment Running & repair costs Fuel economy Safety Space/practicality Build Performance Ride Handling Off road Conclusion CX-7 is a cut above with its handling prowess. Outback impresses on the road.
June July 2007