THE new Holden Captiva wagon is up and running at last.
It may be spotting the competition _ some of whom have been on the market for years now _ a handy lead, but hey, it's better late than never.
Holden has had a less-than-glorious run with all-wheel-drives.
These have included the mega US-made Suburban, baby Cruze and rugged vehicles like Jackaroo, Frontera and the fuel-guzzling Adventra.
The thoroughly-likable Captiva, however, is sure to find plenty of admirers.
First impressions are how classy it looks … right up there with some of European’s most crafted _ and expensive _ AWDs.
Made in GM’s Bupyeong plant in South Korea, Captiva seats up to seven passengers and offers remarkable flexibility, pricing and style.
It's a mid-sized "soft roader'', which makes it larger than the array of compact SUVs on the market and not as big, or thirsty, as the larger wagons, led by Ford's award-winning Territory.
Young families or couples with adventurous pursuits will love its versatility, ease of driving and economy.
The Captiva sports utility vehicle range is priced from $35,990, making it very competitive indeed.
Extensively tested in Australia, Captiva is powered by a locally-made 3.2 litre Alloytec V6 engine.
This provides good, but not great, performance and is a little noisy when stirred.
Captiva is well mannered and offers all the benefits of an SUV, such as excellent height, visibility and grip.
All models feature an active all-wheel-drive system, five-speed automatic transmission with Active Select, Descent Control System and Active Rollover Protection.
The acclaimed crash avoidance system Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is also standard.
Captiva gives SUV buyers a choice of four highly specified variants, including SX, CX ($38,990), LX ($41,990) and MaXX ($42,990).
Economy is sound and our test returned average consumption of 11.5 litres for every 100km covered.
Space is maximised in the Holden Captiva, which comfortably accommodates five or seven people. Fold-flat seating transforms the vehicle from a family-friendly wagon to a handy load carrier.
In SX, CX and LX models, all passenger seats can be folded down to open up 1565 litres of cargo volume. It comes with practical items such as remote operated tailgate glass for quick access (SX, CX, LX), and more than 20 convenient storage solutions depending on model.
Stowaway features include a large wet/dry area beneath the load compartment floor, glovebox cooler, deep centre console bin, rear centre console storage and handy door bins all round.
There are drink bottle holders, coin and cup holders, a parking ticket holder, overhead sunglasses compartment, seatback pockets and under-seat storage tray in MaXX. There are also three 12-volt power outlets thrown in.
Tinted windows, power-operated all round, cruise control, power mirrors and air conditioning spice up the deal.
Driver, front passenger and side curtain airbags are standard on all models except Captiva SX, where driver and front passenger airbags are standard and curtain airbags optional.
While Captiva may not be as polished as some of its rivals, it is also not as dear. This is a competitive all-rounder that should fit the bill for those looking for a value-for-money mid-sized SUV