Looking to upgrade from a Mazda6 to a seven-seater SUV: Holden Captiva, Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Sorento or Mazda CX-9. Which would you recommend? Prefer diesel. Thanks, Greg.
Holden is a basket case, and the Holden Captiva is one of the worst vehicles it sells. It is intrinsically a massive 'don't buy' in my book. It's disgraceful that Holden thinks it can get away with selling vehicles like this. Holden is something of a protected species among many Australian Motoring publications/journalists. Make no mistake: if the Holden Captiva were a Hyundai or Kia, the knives would be out. There's no compelling case to even think about a Holden Captiva.
Holden generally is on the nose - rapidly plummeting in sales, and about to become the third major importer of South Korean vehicles, minus the recent quality upgrades enjoyed by Hyundai/Kia.
Do yourself a favour: Forget the Holden Captiva even exists.
It's impossible to justify the Outlander. It's ugly. It's fundamentally compromised. It's not as good on value as a Mazda CX-5, and nor does the 2.2 diesel compare with the Mazda CX-5 2.2 diesel's outputs (15 per cent less power than CX-5 and 14 per cent less torque ... but the same price. Although the Outlander os a seven-seater and the CX-5 is not, the fundamental engineering is just not as good. And Mitsubishi still thinks fake wood looks good on the upmarket trim levels. Newsflash: It doesn't.
Kia Sorento is absolutely a vehicle to consider buying. Great packaging, great value, great diesel engine. All-round great value. Almost as good as the Hyundai Santa Fe (see below)
Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai and Kia share R&D (essentially they are flipsides of the same corporation). So it's more cost effective to develop one platform for a medium seven-seat SUV, and one set of computer code to run it, and one set of driveline components, and one set of major body panels, etc. Then they do the hair and makeup differently and put different badges on the two. Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are the same vehicle on fundamentals - but in this case I think Hyundai has done a better job on the hair and makeup than Kia has on the Sorento. (Kia does a better job on Sportage than Hyundai does on ix35, however, and also on Optima - Hyundai dropped the ball so badly on i45, its Optima clone, that is was yanked hastily from sale...)
The CX-9 is overpriced and too thirsty - plus also too old. And there's no diesel. So I'd be scratching the CX-9. It's a legacy Mazda, from before the Skyactive technology revolution. About 100 years old, in dog years, and not nearly impressive enough.
The Nissan X-Trail is a great modern seven-seat SUV. Very well packaged, feels premium, and is nice to drive.
There are a few caveats. First, you can only get seven seats with the front-wheel drive driveline. (AWD Nissan X-Trails are five-seat only propositions.) This is not a problem for most buyers, but it will be if you also want to drive down the beach any time soon (because you need AWD for that).
The second caveat with X-Trail is that if you want a diesel you will have to wait. The diesel engine is on the way for Australia, but it's not here yet.