Does a Saturn Vue by any other name still smell as sweet? General Motors sure hopes fleet buyers think so, as the 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, which is largely a Vue with bow-tie badges and a split grille insert, is intended for them.
Why not sell fleet buyers an Equinox, which is a similar class of vehicle, and even rides upon the same platform? The answer lies with supplies. Consumer demand for the second-generation Equinox (along with its corporate cousin, the GMC Terrain) has almost outstripped supply since its debut. Commercial clients are equally interested in purchasing the model, but as retail sales are generally more profitable than those to fleets, GM is understandably hesitant to strip consumers of supply.
Adding the Captiva Sport to Chevrolet’s North American portfolio (it's already sold as a Chevy in select South American markets) and relegating it as a fleet-only vehicle essentially allows GM to have the best of both worlds. The plant in Ontario, Canada will continue cranking out as many Equinoxes and Terrains as consumers can handle, while the factory in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, will produce a near-identical crossover for fleet and commercial customers without cutting into Equinox supplies. Better yet, since that plant previously produced the Vue (and probably still retains tooling for the model), the cost to bring the Captiva Sport to market will likely be far less expensive than if GM sourced a second production base for the Equinox/Terrain twins.
The sheetmetal may scream Saturn (or Opel, if you’re more familiar with the Antara sold abroad), but beneath the skin, the Captiva Sport is quite similar to the current Equinox. Despite riding on a shorter 106.6 inch wheelbase and measuring seven inches shorter overall, the two models do share GM’s second-generation Theta platform.
Unlike the Vue, the Captiva Sport’s powertrain options mirror those of its consumer-oriented siblings. A 182-horsepower, direct-injection 2.4-liter I-4 is found in LS-trim vehicles, while a 264-horsepower, direct-injection 3.0-liter V-6 is standard on Captiva Sport LT and LTZ models. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment on Captiva Sport LS models includes 17-inch aluminum wheels, a six-speaker audio system with XM satellite radio, air conditioning, and remote keyless entry. LT models throw in the aforementioned V-6, OnStar telematic services, and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The top-end LTZ trim adds leather seating, a sunroof, a rear-view camera, a 10-speaker audio system, and allows buyers to opt for all-wheel-drive, if so desired.
GM expects the Captiva Sport to be available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2011. Pricing has yet to be announced, but a Chevrolet spokesperson tells us the model will priced very close to the Equinox, which carries a base price of $23,490 (including destination).