Pretty much every time I write a Meh Car Monday article, the following few days are filled with a sprinkling of hurt, angry emails from people who really adore whatever car I’ve just declared meh. They think I’m wrong, I’m a foul monster, and the world would be better off if (1) everyone just admitted that Jeep Liberties or whatever are fantastic and (2) I was dead.
For some reason, I just don’t see that happening this week, because I simply cannot imagine any sentient being with strong feelings about the Chevy Captiva.
Bring me your best. I dare you. I fucking dare you, this time.
The Chevy Captiva—I guess the name “Hostagea” was taken?—is a staggeringly anonymous crossover that’s been in production since 2006 and is still, somehow, still being built and sold, at least in some parts of the world. My guess is nobody is paying enough attention to decide to stop making them? Or, even worse, people are still buying them?
If you have some kind of pretty severe brain problems, you may have noticed that some versions of the Captiva (the Captiva Sport) look pretty much exactly like the defunct Saturn Vue cossover. That’s because it pretty much is that car, rebadged.
It’s also basically the same as many other GM mid-range, compact, generic, forgettable crossovers built on the Theta platform, like the Daewoo Winstorm (surely you remember that one), Holden Captiva, Opel Antara, Vauxhall Antara, and GMC Terrain.
You know that thing about how Alaska Natives have like 50 words for snow? GM is like that, but instead of snow it’s crossovers nobody really gives a shit about.
Look at that thing. It’s like an insurance company genericized car but without the pizzaz. GM couldn’t even work up the will to even try to sell it to actual human beings in America, instead selling them in bulk to rental car companies and other fleets where actually being interested in the cars you drive is a fireable offense.
Incredibly, people often bought these things used in the U.S., because, I suppose, there’s a decent-sized segment of the car-buying population whose primary buying criteria is “anything is fine.”
If the Captiva were food, it would be a wad of boiled chicken, served to you in a paper towel by a man trying not to sob because deep down he knows he’s already dead. If you want, he’s also happy to sell you a whole 88-gallon drum full of that same boiled chicken.
I like to imagine that the product planner’s original brief for the Captiva read something like this:
“Imagine you’re a successful 35-45 year old person in your beautiful, well-appointed home. You make bold, confident decisions. You look over to a shelf near you, and notice that there’s a space where something clearly once was, but it’s now gone, and you have no memory or idea of what was once there. It had to be something, but now it’s just nothing, a void.
That realization, that feeling, is the all-new Chevy Captiva.”
In true Meh Car fashion, the Captiva was just capable enough. The engines ranged from a 2.4-liter inline four making a just fine, I guess 138 horsepower and you could go up to a 3.0-liter V6 making a respectable 255 horsepower, if, somehow, you could bring yourself to give a shit, which, as a human being, you can’t.
Advertising-wise, it seems as if at least the European agencies had a little fun with the commercials for the Captiva, which I guess you can do when you have nothing interesting to actually say about the car. Here, look:
See? It’s the perfect vehicle for trashing aristocrats’ garden parties, at least in the mind of a child. That’s enough reason to buy a car!
Other commercials were, um, more true to the nature of the car: boring, forgettable, vaguely melancholy, as though the Captiva is a reminder that life is fundamentally fleeting, and all our endeavors will likely one day prove to be meaningless.
How many of you even remembered that the Captiva existed? I’m still not sure it does, and I’ve forced myself to think about Captivas for, like, what seems like days now.
I’m really curious to see if I get angry emails about this one. I’m sure people have Captivas that function just fine and get them from place to place and have yet to truly fail them. But can there really be people who care about these things? Is that possible?
I guess I’ll find out.