We purchased our 2012 VE Series II Holden Commodore Omega in February 2015. At the time it had 65000km on the clock. In the ensuing four and a half years, we have driven it a further 70000km, so it now has 135,000km on the clock. It was a replacement for the 2003 VY Holden Commodore Acclaim we owned. The new car has been a massive leap forward in every aspect. To the old one’s defence, it also was a very good and reliable vehicle and had good specs for its era.
Unfortunately, Father Time had caught up with it and started to have a few mechanical issues, so decided to replace it with our current car. The new Holden Commodore simply has more modern safety features, technology and standard equipment and was actually $7,000 cheaper to buy (with similar kilometres and age) at time of purchase!!!!! Go figure that one out.
Starting out on a positive note, I have to say the 2012 VE Series II Holden Commodore Omega comes with lots fruit, for a base model car. Most importantly, it includes plenty of safety features like dual front and rear air bags (including curtain ones all round), Electronic Stability Control and Brake Force Distribution, Anti Lock Brakes and seat belt pretensioners. This was a major factor in us buying the vehicle in the first place.
Firstly I have to say there is plenty of room for five adults, although sitting in the middle rear seat is only a short term proposition due to the transmission tunnel. The boot is spacious, deep and you can fold down the middle section of the rear seat to accommodate long items such as skis or fishing rods. There are cup holders both front and back to store water bottles, cups of cappuccinos or fruit drinks for the kids.
In the time we have owned the car it has been exceptionally reliable and has had no major mechanical issues to date. We’ve only really had to replace a battery, a couple of tyres, and reglue a revision mirror that fell off the windscreen. So in general, there have just been the normal wear and tear items to address. Servicing and part costs have been reasonable, so prospective buyers may want to look at this aspect of ownership if they are considering buying a Holden Commodore.
The vehicle is a very easy one to drive. It handles well, is sufficiently insulated from road noise and there is no real harshness or vibration. On the highway it is exceptionally economical, using about 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres. Around town it is a bit heavy, using around 12L/100km, but that's not excessive for a large car. It’s certainly not tinny and the doors close with a nice solid “thud”.
The performance from the 3.0-litre engine is what I would consider adequate. It’s certainly not under-powered, but it's no rocket for the market it’s targeted for. Driving around town is fine, as is cruising at 110km/h on the highway, however it does get a bit thrashy when you really put the foot down to overtake up a hill. All in all it’s just okay. That said, I certainly do notice the difference in performance and power when jumping out of my 1.8-litre Honda Civic and into this car.
The car comes with a six-speed automatic sports gearbox, which you can change manually if you so desire. I guess it’s trying to mimic a proper manual car. While I have used this feature, I don’t think it is quite the same as the real thing and to me, feels a bit of a gimmick. As such, I generally leave it in automatic mode and let the gearbox do its own thing. Speaking of which, we have found the gearbox can be a bit clunky at times. This is mainly prevalent when first changing out of park into drive and then taking off. There is a very noticeable clunk and slight lurch forward. It doesn’t always happen, but it does occur here and there.
The car has a very efficient dual-zone air conditioning setup, which cools or warms the vehicle quickly, so that is a nice bonus. We are particularly impressed by the very clear and concise instrument cluster and the amount of different information it offers. Among other things, it contains the option of displaying a digital speedometer to run alongside the permanent analogue one. Other information includes setting pre-determined or custom speed alerts, distance and time to a given destination, two trip meters and average fuel economy and speed.
Another very impressive feature is the delightful and easy to navigate infotainment system. It includes a touchscreen stereo with CD player, steering wheel controls for the stereo, mobile phone via Bluetooth and external devices like MP3 players and GPS systems that you can plug into the USB and Auxiliary ports. You can also adjust the volume, change radio stations or tracks being played on a CD and answering a phone call via these devices. Disappointingly there is only one USB and 12V port. They are poorly located at the bottom of the big storage bin in the middle of the console, between the driver and front passenger seats. This makes the task of easily getting to them problematic, especially when you are storing your nick-nacks like a phone, wallet and house keys on top of them.
I love listening to my music reasonably loud when I’m flying solo on a road trip somewhere, so having a half decent stereo that is easy to operate en route is important to me. Surprisingly the speakers aren’t too bad, so it’s a big tick from me on that score.
Now that I've managed all the good things, the car does have a couple of irritating features, none worse than having no permanent override for the automatic headlights. Each and every time you drive or start the car in anything other than direct sunlight, the headlights illuminate. There is no way of permanently disabling this feature. It becomes tiresome and annoying when you have to continually turn the headlights back off.
The driver should very quite conscious of the very wide A and C pillars. While not a major issue, nor a purchasing deal breaker, you just need to be aware that their width does restrict your vision and causes a bit of a blind spot. This is particularly so when changing lanes, approaching the entrance to a roundabout or parking the vehicle. This requires you to be a little more careful and conduct more thorough head checks than you normally would.
The bucket seats are only average in comfort and the vertically challenged have a tendency to sit fairly low in them. This affects one’s outward vision. At times we have found the cruise control to be somewhat glitchy. It only happens when you want to increase or decrease your cruise speed using the control on the indicator stalk. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, you literally need to turn the vehicle off so it resets itself and can be used again.
I am also not fussed on the location of the remote release for the boot. It’s in the glovebox instead of beside the driver’s seat. I have no idea why the designers thought putting there would be more convenient for the driver. For me, that is a bit of a brain snap idea that lacked a bit of thought. Not having a GPS system is disappointing, although given the car is a base model, I may be being a bit harsh and picky.
Finally I have to say we have been very happy with this car. It has served us well and is a good fit for my family in terms of size, running costs and reliability. The only thing I would have done differently is most probably bought a higher spec model.