2011 Holden Commodore SV6 Ute Review & Road Test

by under Review on 19 Jul 2011 06:47:33 PM19 Jul 2011
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km

Great looks; nice interior; improved fuel consumption


Awkward rear three-quarter visibility; Manual transmission gets heavy in city traffic

Tradies working at the building site adjacent to the Car Showroom office swarmed when we arrived in a brand-new Holden Commodore SV6 Ute. Holden has a cult car on its hands with the latest VE Series II Commodore ute a great looker, in SV6 guise sitting low on its sports suspension and stylish 18-inch alloy wheels.

Holden would have been pleased to see the tradies’ reaction – these guys love their utes.

Much like the pick-up market in North America, high performance utes like the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute have evolved the market beyond the simple work vehicle – buyers in this segment demand looks, performance and an interior to match. The Holden Commodore SV6 Ute delivers on its promise…and stickered at $38,490 (six-speed manual as tested) the racy Commodore challenges the value of some fancy imports.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute What Overview

Over the standard Holden Omega Ute, the SV6 model gains the 3.6-litre V6 engine, sports suspension and some interior and exterior enhancements. Our test car was also fitted with the locally developed hard tonneau cover which boosted the regular SV6 sporty looks.


Of course in Series II, Holden improved the VE Commodore’s looks with a much slicker front-end, so the base package was handy to start with.

Inside, the addition of sports seats and the leather-wrapped steering wheel provides the SV6 with an up-market/sporty look.

So this is the mainstream sports Commodore Ute, but out back the workman-like functionality of the Commodore ute remains a standout and the lockable tonneau cover provides security for valuable tools and accessories buyers in this segment require.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute Engine

Since 2008 Holden has garnered impressive fuel consumption improvements across its V6 engine range up to 15 per cent. It’s an un-relenting and detailed process – examples in the 3.6-litre unit fitted to the SV6 include a reduced idle speed and clutched air-conditioning compressor (does not operate when the air-con is switched off).

Maximum power is 210kW and peak torque is 350Nm. The rival Ford Falcon XR6 Ute delivers 195kW/391Nm from its 4.0-litre V6.


As tested, the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute six-speed manual has seen a four per cent reduction in combined cycle fuel consumption – down to 9.8l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions have been cut by 4.5 per cent to 231g/km.

Often efforts to cut fuel consumption have a downside is deteriorated drivability. But this is not the case here, with the low-speed tractability and high-end performance - which have endeared the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute to local buyers – still strong points.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute The Interior

On the inside, the Holden Commodore SV6 runs the hallmark Commodore features and space…but with some well-thought-out sporty additions.

We were very impressed by the high-adjustable sports seats – nicely supportive, boosted side bolsters for a body-hugging feel. That adjustment combined with the nice leather-trimmed steering wheel to deliver the driver Holden’s usual high-standard driving position – the same with pricier HSV models.


As well as the latest Holden touch-screen IQ system (including Bluetooth phone book and audio streaming), Holden Commodore SV6 Ute gains the Holden sports instruments (white on ‘Razor Grey’ colour scheme) and a virtual CD changer with 1 GB flash drive storage.

The latest VE Series II interior trims have also provided a welcome boost to Commodore interiors.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute Exterior & Styling

Externally, the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute stamps its sporty authority with muscly, bold looks set-off by a larger grille, racy lower air intake and revised headlights with a black bezel. 


New 18-inch, twin five-spoke machined alloy wheels look great and combine with the lowered sports suspension give the Holden Commodore SV6 a purposeful on-road stance far removed from the Omega base-specification model.

Our test car ran the new locally developed, lockable hard tonneau cover which - while not as raucous as the HSV Maloo - still significantly boosts the SV6 appearance.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute On The Road

Holden is justifiably proud of its reduced fuel consumption of the Series II VE Commodore, but one shouldn’t overlook chassis dynamics and in that department the latest Holden Commodore SV6 Ute is a superstar. At all speeds, the poise, balance and refinement of our SV6 Ute was very impressive.

The 3.6-litre V6 is a good starting point with 210kW/350Nm of tractable performance, matched to the nice ratios of the six-speed manual. 


Combine that with Holden’s well-developed chassis plus the usual electronic driver aids and not even a wet run over our high-speed mountain roads test loop could outwit the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute. OK the traction control worked hard, but stability and sure-footedness remained unblemished and the total package shone through.

We liked the precision of the front-end with immediate response and balance. We thought the empty cargo area might be a weak point but actually we couldn’t fault the rear suspension either.

Back in the city, the torque of the V6 enabled easy freeway merging.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute Challenges

Parking our Holden Commodore SV6 was a challenge. You sit low in the SV6 sports seats and combined with the hard tonneau cover, this meant rear three-quarter visibility was restricted.

And our female testers did comment on the heavy feel of the manual transmission.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute – it looks the part, drives like a high performance sedan, has nice refinement and Holden’s efforts to improve fuel consumption are impressive. 


If your ute doubles as a weekend vehicle, you’ll appreciate the extra interior specification in SV6 (sports seats are beauties) - definitely worth the extra dollars.

At the end of the day this is a Holden, designed, engineered and built in Australia. So you know its tough and up to the challenges of life with tradies, dirt bike riders, boating enthusiasts and all the others who demand a lot from their utes.

Holden Commodore SV6 Ute The Competition

Naturally it’s the Falcon – in this case the XR6. The Ford is listed $600 less at $37,890, but we bet your local Holden dealer could sharpen their pencils.

At 195kW/391Nm there’s not much to separate them under the bonnet although the Holden Commodore SV6 Ute is ahead in fuel consumption (9.6l/100kms to 11.7l/100kms).

And Falcon’s leaf-sprung rear end gets fidgety on poor roads.



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