Holden jackaroo 1999 se lwb (4x4)
Owner Review

1999 Holden Jackaroo SE LWB (4x4) review

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It wasn’t just a shortage of brand new cars that caused a surge in used car prices throughout 2020; the closing of international borders meant we had to look locally, instead of overseas for our holiday and travel plans.

Consequently, the prices for everything from LandCruisers through to Defenders shot up as people looked for reliable, capable transport that could take them off the beaten track and bring them safely back home again.

The second-generation Holden Jackaroo (surprisingly) doesn’t seem to have been impacted much, if at all! Having bought my ‘Jack six months ago (and with 10,000km under the belt) I’m struggling to understand why they’ve seemed to maintain such reasonable asking prices online.

The Aussie ‘Jacks have all the hallmarks of a highly capable, reliable and comfortable holiday bus.

They’re Japanese-built, body-on-frame setup with all the mod-cons you’d expect from an early 2000’s forbie. Powered seats, windows, mirrors, cruise control, dual airbags, dual-range 4x4, ABS, and rear LSD are all standard, and they’re commonly available in both manwell and automagic. Outstanding!

It’s also not unusual to see the 3.5-litre V6 petrols do 400,000-500,000km without breaking too much of a sweat. After all, they’re an Isuzu underneath.
The diesels are a whole other kettle of fish, and I’d advise you to steer clear.

Hoisting myself into the captain’s chair for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing level of visibility this afforded the driver. It seems you’re sitting a couple of heads taller than any soft-roader that you encounter in the traffic, which is a great feeling.

The dash is well laid out. The switchgear is easy to navigate. The dials are easily read, and you’ve got the assurance of voltage, oil pressure and water temp gauges that seem to have gone missing from most cars we drive today.

With a couple of cranks, she fires up just fine. You’ll notice a familiar, Holden Rodeo-esque sound coming from the front, as the accompanying radiator fan whirrs away in the background. The 'Jodeos' share a lot of the same running gear, which makes parts easily available and very cheap as well!

The seats are very comfortable, headroom is cavernous, the barn-door rear is super practical, and having seven seats is a very convenient feature too. The rearmost seats fold up to the side windows, which doesn’t impact boot space as much as you'd think. Those same seats also come out in under three minutes each if you’re that way inclined.

For shopping, moving, dog or family duties - it’s about as practical as you can get.

Driving the car around town however, it starts to show its age in a few key areas.

No matter how refined a ‘Jack may be, there’s no hiding the body-on-frame chassis and the noisy and crashy ride it provides, especially on rougher tarmac surfaces and when driving over potholes.

Like growing a bonsai, coming to a stop is a process that takes time. Hit the anchors to stop quickly, and you’ll notice every one of the 2000+kg you’re piloting as the nose dives to the tarmac in front.

When compared to a modern car (my other car is a Mk6 Golf GTi) the driving experience can be… interesting. Challenging. Even jarring at times. But it’s important to consider that these things were originally developed in the early 90s.

If you keep that in mind, you might even find yourself relishing some of the ‘difficulties’ as ‘character’; as features rather than flaws.

How does it handle? Yes.

Body roll? Absolutely.

But the real showstopper is the fuel consumption. While a petrol 5-speed manual will return anywhere from 12-13 litres per 100 kilometres on the freeway, expect closer to 20-22L/100km around town in the inner city.

Interestingly, they seem to run best on 91RON. 95RON provides no real discernible advantage, and I’ve actually found my ‘Jack noticeably harder to start in the cold with the 95. I chose to stay away from E10 generally, which the Jack won’t be happy to accept in any case.

To put this into context, an 85-litre tank at $1.35 per litre will cost you just shy of $115 and will take you only 380-odd kilometres in the very worst of circumstances. I’ve never been one to care about fuel consumption as I love driving too much - but even this is a hard equation to swallow at times. I'm not sure what equivalent Patrol or LandCruiser models are like, but I'm sure the numbers aren't too dissimilar.

Take the ‘Jack off the beaten track however, and the whole proposition starts to make infinitely more sense. Locking front hubs as well as selectable 2 or 4wd provide the traction and motivation to get you into, and out of the stickiest situations. Pair the drivetrain with some decent all-terrain tyres, and you’ll be genuinely surprised at how far they’ll get you.

While that body-on-frame chassis won’t give the best ride on the road, it will provide amazing suspension articulation (wheel reach) which make the ‘Jack a real wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to tackling the tough tracks. Snow, sand, mud - throw anything at the Jack and it’ll get you there and back. No dramas.

So do yourself a favour; if you’re in the market for a Patrol or ‘Cruiser - give the Jack and crack. You might save yourself a tonne of money, and I promise you won’t look back.

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