Vauxhall Antara SUV (2007-2015)
"The Vauxhall Antara comes up short next to rivals like the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan"
- Lots of standard equipment
- Competitively priced
- Decent looks
- Small boot
- High running costs
- Cheap-feeling interior
The Vauxhall Antara is the UK version of the Opel Antara, which sells throughout the rest of Europe. It’s based on a platform which is used for compact SUVs sold by Vauxhall’s parent company General Motors all around the world, wearing Chevrolet and Holden badges in some countries.
The Antara appeals with its chiselled, muscular looks, high driving position and commanding road presence. It has plenty of power for towing and is well equipped, spacious and fitted with up-to-date safety equipment.
It needs to be up-to-date too, because the competition it faces is very tough indeed, including the Volkswagen Tiguan and Toyota RAV4, as well as the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga. Unfortunately it struggles to equal its rivals in a number of key areas.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine trails equivalent engines in the Antara’s rivals for both smoothness and economy, achieving 42.2mpg, which is some way short of the class leaders. Road tax of £185 per year is relatively steep too. Following streamlining of the range, the diesel is now the only engine choice; a petrol engine, automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive are all now no longer available.
The Antara’s arch-rival the Ford Kuga is better to drive, too. Although no car in this area of the market can claim to be a true driver's car, the Vauxhall Antara still suffers more than most from lifeless, vague steering, while the car doesn’t feel anywhere near nimble enough to excuse the soft ride which almost inexplicably passes road bumps uncomfortably through to passengers.
The car’s interior looks reasonably good, with the dashboard managing to have more appeal, though not more quality, than the Volkswagen Tiguan. There’s plenty of space inside, and occupants enjoy a high seating position and good visibility, though the driver may find the car hard to place on the road thanks to the abruptly sloping bonnet.
All models are well equipped, with air-conditioning, heated front seats and tinted windows, as well as front foglights and alloy wheels being standard across the range. More expensive Diamond models have leather trim and larger wheels, plus various exterior extras. However, this swells the price and increases depreciation; rival cars are likely to hold on to considerably more of their value.
Safety is reasonable – though the Antara hasn’t been Euro NCAP crash-tested itself, the technically similar Chevrolet Captiva has, and it scored four out of five stars. The Antara features all the safety equipment you would expect of a modern car.
The Antara has never fared well in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with owners voting the Mk1 version in 132nd place out of 150 cars covered in 2016, though this is an improvement over its 150th place finish in 2014. The current model has yet to be ranked, with too few owners contributing data for it to feature.
Running costs and reliability are sticking points with Antara owners, and Vauxhall itself figures in 25th place overall out of 32 brands, with drivers citing these reasons, as well as poor performance, for particular criticism.
The Vauxhall Antara makes the most sense at the lower end of the range, with a diesel engine and two-wheel drive. Vauxhall dealer discounts can often be substantial and if the price is right the Antara can be a good-value, versatile family workhorse, particularly for those who regularly tow a caravan or speedboat.
However, we advise you to check out its rivals first, as an Antara would have to be on offer at a considerable discount to to be worth buying rather than its competition.