Which Seven-seat SUV Should I Buy?

QUESTION

We were thinking of buying one of these Holden Captiva 7 LS SUVs before looking at your lemon slant. Is there really a lot of evidence to say these cars are rubbish?

MY RECOMMENDATION: DON'T BUY

ANSWER

For starters, my recommendation on the Holden Captiva is not a 'slant'. I have a degree in mechanical engineering. I've been reporting on cars for a long time. People spend serious money on cars. They deserve high calibre information to assist getting the choice right.

This means I don't just pull recommendations out of my arse. I do actual research and arrive at real conclusions. It's called the 'scientific method'. You might have heard of it. I thought about just flipping a coin, or consulting an astrologer, which would be easier, but decided that would most probably diminish the calibre of my recommendations.

NO VESTED INTEREST

Recommendations need to be impartial. Mine are. It sure doesn't make any difference to me if you buy a Holden Captiva or not. If you want to increase the chances of repeated heated discussions with generally unhelpful dealership service managers and/or weeks off the road with no tangible assistance, the Holden Captiva is actually a good choice.

Look at it like this: If one in 10 Holden Captivas sold in 2014 has a defect, and one in 10 of those defective Captivas has a serious defect that is resistant to solution, or has a dealership service department failing to do its part and rectify the problem, then that's 160 owners who aren't getting the result they want (ie a problem-free vehicle). The other 99 per cent are happy, sure, but do you want to be one of the ones who are anything but? Other competing SUVs don't have anything like the same incidence of defects as the Holden Captiva.

In this case, there is an orgy of evidence the Holden Captiva (along with the Holden Cruze) is one of the worst cars on the road. The standard of proof here is beyond reasonable doubt. Here's why:

POOR FUNDAMENTALS

The Holden Captiva was designed and built at a time when GM had no money to invest in R&D (being bankrupt will do that), in a factory that was so on the nose globally they had to change its name.

OWNER FEEDBACK

I get more direct owner complaints about Cruze and Captiva than any other cars. They generally conclude either with: 'please help me', or 'I will never buy another Holden again'.

OFFICIAL RECALLS

There have been six Captiva safety recalls in Australia since 2007 (recalls in Australia only occur for safety issues - not for merely inconvenient defect issues). In the same time, for comparison, there have been no recalls for Mazda CX-7, CX-9 or CX-5. Hyundai has had one each for Santa Fe and ix35. (In fact, Hyundai has had 16 recalls in the past decade, Mazda has had 21 and Holden has had 66. Kinda tells you something about which companies have their quality control act together, huh?

Holden issued a record number of safety recalls last year. GM is being sued for product liability fatality issues in the USA.

POOR SALES

More broadly there was a 24 per cent decline in Captiva 7 sales last year, (Captiva 5 down 19 per cent). Total SUV sales were up six per cent in the same time. So: people want more SUVs, just not more Captivas...

OWNER REVIEWS

2006-2013 Holden Cruze Series II Captiva scores 2.7 stars from 111 reviews on productreview.com.au - including headings like 'worst car ever', 'never buy a Captiva 7', 'unreliable - worst purchase of my life' and (personal favourite) 'Absolute CRAPtiva'.

Apart from that, there's no evidence whatsoever that suggests the Holden Captiva is a lemon. If you want to roll the dice, it's entirely up to you. But objectively, the Holden Captiva is a complete lemon.

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HYUNDAI SANTA FE

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