We live in interesting times for Aussie utes. While Commodore and Falcon rule the roost, in 2011 you can expect a lot of noise from Ford to promote its all-new, locally developed – but foreign-manufactured - Ranger ute.
In many ways Holden Commodore Ute and Ford Falcon Ute - with their passenger car-derived cabins, V6 and V8 engines, plus over-sized cargo areas - are unique beasts. They’re not an Asian-style ute nor are they American-style pickups.
Bottom line is: Buyers of Holden Commodore Ute and Ford Falcon Ute have different requirements to buyers of vehicles like the Ranger and Holden Colorado.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 Overview
Take the handsome VE Series II Holden Commodore and turn it into a ute and the result is…well it’s a handsome ute. Holden knows it’s on a winner with the VE Commodore so thankfully styling changes for the Series II facelift have been minimal.
Car Showroom tested the Series II Holden Commodore Ute SV6 with a six-speed manual transmission. Priced at $38,490 ($39,490 for the six-speed automatic), the SV6 costs a few grand more than the entry-level Holden Commodore Ute Omega, but it’s money well spent on an array of extra creature comforts and appearance items.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 Engine
Holden’s venerable 3.6-litre SIDI V6 petrol engine did not get the flex-fuel technology of its 3.0-litre and V8 siblings as part of the Series II Holden Commodore upgrades. However - with fitment of a clutched air-conditioning compressor (the pump doesn’t work when the system is switched off) and a reduced idle speed - Holden says fuel economy is improved by as much as 2.8 percent over the previous VE Commodore.
Maximum power is 210 kW at 6400rpm and peak torque of 350Nm is available from 2500rpm. Our Holden Commodore Ute SV6 test car was fitted with the standard six-speed manual transmission (optional auto is also a six-speed).
Our test car was rated at 1,600kgs for towing capacity, while the auto climbs to 2100 kgs.
Dollar-for-dollar, kW-for-kW, Holden’s 3.6-litre must be one of the world’s best V6s – hard-working, relatively quiet and massively reliable.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 The Interior
Your extra $3,000 investment to upgrade to an SV6 version of the Holden Commodore Ute really stamps its mark inside with sports front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and sports instrumentation.
Like the equivalent SV6 Sedan and Sportwagon, behind the wheel of the SV6 Holden Commodore Ute - after you’ve adjusted the seat and steering wheel to your requirements - you get a genuine, performance car feel that’s purposeful, athletic and calling you to find some good roads to tackle. You almost have to give yourself an uppercut to return to the reality that you’re sitting in a ute.
The downside to that low-down, snug, sporty driving position is restricted rear visibility – especially noticeable when reverse parking.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 also scores the improved Series II audio system with a virtual CD changer and 1 GB flash drive storage.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 Exterior & Styling
Holden’s VE Commodore lineup has always scored green ticks from us for the exterior styling. Across Sedan, Sportwagon and Ute derivatives, Holden’s designers have done a great job combining modern, performance car looks (we love the broad wheel arches) with balanced proportions which disguise the sheer size of the Commodore (2915mm wheelbase for the Holden Commodore Ute).
Cleverly for the Series II upgrades, Holden kept the main exterior features largely unchanged and what they did alter – basically just a slightly revised front fascia and grille – has been nicely done.
As part of the extra features included in the SV6 version, our test car rode on new-look 18-inch alloy wheels which certainly boosted the exterior into ‘Muscle Car’ status.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 On The Road
The SV6 is a handily-priced, extra value member of the Holden Commodore Ute lineup. It is what it is – an upscale work vehicle retailing for around half the price of the standout, high-performance HSV Maloo.
With that in mind, the SV6 delivers – big time.
During our week with the Holden Commodore Ute SV6 we were impressed by the way its relatively sophisticated chassis easily kept pace with Holden’s muscly 210kW/350Nm, 3.6-litre V6 engine. Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the Holden Commodore Ute SV6 held us snugly with those excellent sports seats and the torque of the V6 was in harmony with the ratios of the six-speed manual transmission.
And we enjoyed the way Holden’s standard Electronic Stability and Traction Control systems coped with a heavy right foot, hairpin bends and zero load in the cargo area.
Sure, around town the clutch pedal was a tad heavy, the low seating position dictated rear visibility was a challenge when reverse parking and the 11.4-metre turning circle caused some maneuvering in our tight CBD carpark…but – FYI – this isn’t a Holden Barina Spark.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 Challenges
Please Holden, send someone down to the nearest Toyota dealership to see how the interior plastic trim in the HiLux has a nice, soft, tactile feel. In our minds the hard interior plastic trim is the only flaw in the current Commodore lineup.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 Verdict
Like the Ford Falcon Ute, the Holden Commodore Ute is an Aussie icon which has been carefully evolved over the years to deliver the ubiquitous product demanded by ute buyers…hard to mount a counter argument to that.
And the extra kit included in the SV6 model also scores a bulls-eye with the target market.
Holden Commodore Ute SV6 The Competition
Assuming you’ve discarded the imported utes, there’s only one vehicle to compare with the Holden Commodore Ute and that’s the Falcon Ute. Like their sedan siblings it’s a toss of the coin and individual tastes that separate these fine Aussie workhorses.
Some criticize the Falcon for its leaf-sprung rear end, but tradies, truckies and couriers in our circle of friends actually prefer their utes with leaf-spring rears.