I was growing tired of riding my bike during the wet season (I live in the tropics) and having to sit in damp clothes for eight hours every day. After owning motorcycles for four years, it was time to get another car. My lifestyle meant I needed a ute to cart my bike around and for also going to the rubbish tip. The ideal car was a dual-cab Hilux but with their lack of depreciation, it meant those were out of my price range. However, my brother-in-law had a VE Commodore which I thoroughly enjoyed driving. I loved the comfort and its six-cylinder refinement. This left me with one choice but to buy a Commodore Ute.
It’s a 2007 model (VZ series) in the SV6 trim and was the last model before Holden released the VE series. Extras in the SV6 trim-level included a limited-slip-differential (LSD), 5-speed auto, power aerial, sports seats, body kit and paddle-shifters.
One of the reasons I bought it was for the looks. It has very sleek lines but it is also very discrete. The body kit fits very nicely to the style of the car as well. My only issue is the front bumper can catch on steep driveways and you can easily rip it off if you’re not too careful.
The engine powering the SV6 model is the higher-output 190kW version of the 3.6-litre six-cylinder found in the lower trim-levels. It’s a silky-smooth engine when mated to the 5-speed auto and will easily sit at 1500rpm at 100km/h. It is a very lazy engine, as most of the torque is between 2000-4000rpm. Despite its lazy nature, it can get away from the lights very quickly with a gentle hum heard from the cabin. However, one area where it does fall short is fuel economy. During my time with the car, the best I’m able to average was 11 litres per 100 kilometres, which equates to a 400km tank range before the fuel light comes on. One area where the engine and drivetrain excel is servicing. Parts are readily available, and Commodores have been around longer than I have, so it means that you’ll always find a mechanic that knows how to work on them. They were the workhorse of the taxi industry and Police Force for years and will run forever if you maintain them.
On the road
Being a monocoque-chassis ute means that the handling characteristics are very much like a car. This also means that you can fit independent suspension to the rear, which ensures very good road manners. My car was fitted with Pedders suspension front and rear by the previous owner, meaning that you can take some corners faster than you normally would, as it gives you a lot of confidence. Because it shares its platform with the 5-door models, it’s a great highway-cruiser as it is super quiet and comfortable. The steering feel is good, and you can feel what the tyres are doing. You do have to do a lot of turning to make it change direction, and combined with a poor turning circle makes it a nightmare to park in tight spaces.
Because there is no weight over the rear-axle and no traction control, it can get lively even if the road is a little bit damp. So, you must take a very conservative driving approach in the wet. I have learnt this the hard way after spinning out a few times during my first few months of ownership. However, when it does step-out, because the car is so well set up, it is very easy to control.
Utes are extremely practical but only having two seats can be an issue when you need to take more than one person. Sharing a car platform has its benefits when it comes to loading stuff into the tray. As it is lower to the ground than a 4WD ute it is super easy to load cargo, especially motorbikes. There are plenty of tie downs, but they are flimsy and will bend if you do tie down something heavy.
The interior is a very nice place to be. The sporty driving position means you sit very low down, which is excellent for spirited cornering. Having power height adjustment means you can get a clear and accurate view over the bonnet. I’m 6-foot and I have plenty of leg room, and passenger accommodations are the same. I fitted an aftermarket head unit to replace the factory Blaupunkt unit as I wanted to stream music and use my AUX cable. The speakers are usually the next thing I change but the factory units provide pretty good clarity. There are two major things that I like on this car; an electronic speedometer and automatic headlights. They don’t sound like a big deal, but I don’t think I can have a car without either of these features ever again. All my motorbikes have had electronic speedometers, so having one in the car is a plus and not having to worry about turning on the headlights is a convenient feature too.
This car has been fantastic in my two years of ownership. In my 40,000km’s of driving it has not once broken down on me and has been a very reliable and sturdy workhorse when I needed it to be. This is my favourite car I have owned, and this is coming from somebody who has only driven and owned Japanese vehicles. My needs have changed now and I now require more seats, but if I was to buy another two-seater ute, I would buy another Commodore.