Holden Commodore SV6 2013 Review

Holden Commodore SV6 2013 Review

When there are 120kph winds forecast and you need to get across a mountain range, what car will you turn to? You definitely wouldn’t want to be driving one of those ‘popular’ SUVs because you’d be knocked around like Mohammed Ali was using you for sparring practice.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-rear-quarterYou also don’t want something small and light. No, you want something powerful, sleek and solid, like a BMW M6 or Audi R8. Or, if you only have $55,000 to spare rather than $250,000, this Holden Commodore SV6 will do quite nicely, too.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-sideOn that night I traversed the Kaweka Range from Taupo to Napier, the trees were bending like peasants would bow to an Emperor, and there was already significant foliage littering the road. Heavy rain was forecast and I’d brought the journey forward to avoid the likelihood of a slip. The big Commodore took a beating but rarely missed a beat. Sometimes the gusts were strong enough to push it a third of the way across the lane but, in general, it held onto the road admirably.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-front-interiorIn fact, there was more grip than I expected, even for a heavy car in the wet. When I applied too much power, the traction control reined the back end in. With the limited slip differential, grip out of all types of corners was fantastic. Add to the LSD electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), and sports suspension and it creates a formidable handling package.

Other electronics include trailer sway control, and hill hold control. There was more grip from the 245/45R18 tyres than you’d need to explore under most circumstances

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-rear-seatsOn the trip back to Auckland I had three extra passengers and their luggage. The cavernous boot swallowed everything easily. There were no complaints about comfort either. The seats are nicely padded and bolstered and remained comfortable for the whole 400+km journey.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-reversing-cameraThis latest version of the Commodore feels better than the previous version. I know I’ve said this before, but I don’t understand why people who should know better than to buy an SUV still buy an SUV rather than looking for a large car that will handle much better, have better fuel economy and still be capable of carrying four adults in comfort. OK, I know you can see over the top of vehicles in front in an SUV, but if you need to do that, you’re probably the type of driver that relentlessly tailgates the driver in front; hang back and you’ll see what’s ahead just fine.

I achieved 7.2l/100km for the best 100km of the journey and 8.5l/100km overall (the Commodore measures that), all this despite having a 185kW 3.6-litre V6 that gives plenty of overtaking prowess with 210kW and 350Nm of torque.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-appsThe entertainment system is Holden’s MyLink with its 8-inch touchscreen. It comes with built-in support for Pandora and Stitcher apps, as well as Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth audio streaming, full iPod compatibility and more conventional radio/CD options. Styling changes aren’t a radical departure from the previous model. I’m not a huge fan of the new rear, but I like it better from the front and side.

The SV6 comes with 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lamps, and you can have an optional wing spoiler. As is common nowadays, it’s impossible to see the corners of the car and that makes having the reversing camera and sensors all around especially useful.

holden-commodore-sv6-2013-bootThe Holden will also park itself in a parallel or perpendicular park. Simply activate the park scanning function and it’ll tell you when it finds a suitable space.

Given there’s a gigantic boot hanging out the back the rear traffic scanning system is welcome when backing out of a tight spot.

Fortunately I’ve never been into the Ford/Holden rivalry. There are just good cars, mediocre cars and bad cars. Maybe there are a few excellent cars, too. The Commodore isn’t an excellent car; it’s a damn good car. I tried to find things about it I didn’t like, but it was difficult. Lack of sat nav as standard, perhaps. Not that fussed about the rear styling, but that’s just my taste.

I really hope that the winds of change are blowing and that large cars have a resurgence so we get back to a sensible existence where families that buy SUVs because they perceive them as safer begin to move back to large cars with their much better handling characteristics and fuel economy.

The Commodore comes with a 5-star ANCAP crash rating, so it’s not protection that’s an issue. You’d be less likely to have an accident in a vehicle that is more dynamically capable. I had always been a bit ambivalent about large sedans in this price range because up until recently they just didn’t deliver the goods. But, they will survive because cars like the Commodore are raising the bar enough that I would consider buying one.

Price: $55,490


  • Stupendously solid-feeling car
  • Good ratio of performance to economy
  • It’s a lot of car for 55 grand


  • Expected sat nav to come as standard

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