DETROIT -- The Captiva Sport, Chevrolet's no-frills crossover for fleet customers, has a budding retail fan base, too.
Many dealers have seen brisk demand on their used lots for the Captiva Sport, which General Motors began selling as a fleet-only vehicle in the United States about two years ago to free up retail supplies of the popular, slightly larger Equinox.
Jason Hachmeister, co-owner of Sterling Chevrolet in Sterling, Ill., says he bought "a bunch" of slightly used 2014 Captiva Sports at auction a few weeks ago, all with fewer than 10,000 miles on them. He says more in-the-know customers are coming in to look for the crossover amid his certified-used inventory now that the vehicle has been on U.S. roads for a few years.
"It makes a nice switch vehicle for customers who don't want to spend a few thousand more for an Equinox," says Hachmeister, who sold five Captiva Sports in the first month and a half of this year.
The Captiva Sport is built in Mexico on the same platform as the defunct Saturn Vue and is sold in more than 50 markets across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Tight retail supplies of the Equinox prompted GM to bring the Captiva Sport to the United States in late 2011.
The Captiva Sport has helped Chevrolet "place more Equinoxes in the hands of retail customers," GM spokesman Robert Wheeler says. He says the number of Captiva Sports sold by GM dealers as certified-used units rose slightly last year from 2012 but he declined to provide a number.
GM sells the Captiva Sport mainly to rental agencies. But it is also popular among pharmaceutical reps and other salespeople, Wheeler says.
The wholesale value of 2012 Captiva Sport base LS models sold at auction in January was $11,500, $2,000 less than a comparable Equinox, according to Ricky Beggs, editorial director at Black Book, which tracks used-vehicle prices.
In addition to the lower sticker, the Captiva Sport's smaller size appeals to some buyers, says Tom Priano, inventory manager at Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
"The rental fleets turn them over fairly quickly," he says. "It appeals to a different level of buyers."