Imagine it's 2003, John Howard is our Prime Minister, and business for Ford and Holden is at a record high. Holden's launching a $125 million investment, the Holden Cross Trac AWD system.
Flash-forward to 2005 and my model year is produced. I remember as a 10-year-old reading about these AWD monsters being made here in Australia. Ever since then I've wanted one, but only in the perfect spec – a VZ LX8.
I personally find them better looking than the VYs, and they have an extra 15kW. I do a lot of towing, and the V6 wasn't going to be an option. Scrolling through Gumtree on a rainy Sunday, I found the perfect one with more kays than I wanted (203,000km), but perfect spec nonetheless.
So more than six months later, what’s it like to live with? Great! Coming from lowered Falcons to something with more ground clearance is amazing, although it will be getting lifted in the near future for more clearance. Fuel economy – it was never going to be amazing. I average around 15–16L/100km, but I do drive it pretty hard.
Sitting in traffic to and from work doesn't help either. When towing around 2000kg it sits around the 19L/100km mark, which is actually better than my previous ’05 BA MKII Fairmont Ghia towing the same load.
I've brought the stereo crashing into 2017 with the latest Apple CarPlay JVC head unit, so it now has more connectivity than my mate's 2012 FG G6E. The seats are super comfy and great for long distance. The back seat easily fits three across without any complaints. The boot is big enough to swallow all my tools and equipment I take for a weekend of racing.
It has more than proven itself off-road, taking on mud, snow and dirt roads – and surprising us all. The weakest link off-road is the big mushy thing in the driver's seat. The AWD system gives great confidence when travelling on dirt roads and in the wet.
Naturally, a 5.7-litre V8 has more than enough power (250kW) to pull anything I throw at it. When floored it never revs hard, just rides the waves of torque this thing has.
The bad points? Well, the fuel bill. Around $90 to fill up gives it a 500km range, but really it’s more like 400km on a good day. Luckily I knew what I was getting myself into before I purchased this vehicle.
The old trusty four-speed autos are a weak link. Most need a rebuild before the 250,000km point, but mine isn't showing any signs yet. Hopefully a bigger trans cooler and an oil and filter change will help prolong its life.
Do I regret buying this and not a dual-cab ute? Absolutely not. It still drives like a Commodore, and 90 per cent of the time that’s what I need. It has more than proven itself as a great all-round car after 12,000km of trouble-free driving, and I'm looking forward to many more.
It's sad that Holden didn't continue building these, because when it comes time for a replacement, I'll be hard-struck to find something that ticks all the boxes like this does.