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ROAD TEST:   Holden Commodore SS ute

by Ken Walker

26th April, 2009

Home > Road Tests > General Motors > Holden

This is thunder from down under (so to speak); a 6.0 litre V8 "fire snorting monster" that GM Holden calls the Commodore SS Utility with the old style V8 sound trumpeting from the 4 outlet exhaust system. This is a return to ‘King of the Mountain’ stuff and perhaps one very good reason why some motorists buy V8s.

Our drive package was a real head turner and it was hard to resist a cruise along main street. But without digressing further, back to the utility and our review. Cruising along the F3 freeway north out of Sydney and over a distance of 160 kilometres the trip computer showed a miserly fuel usage of just 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres. Sitting on the freeway speed limit of 110 km/h (where permitted) this fuel consumption figure impressed us. Fuel tank capacity is 73 litres.

The SS ute is a mean looking machine with street credibility, with 'natural' ability to look good or to load-up for the tradesperson's work horse. Either way it works well.

Outside, the bodywork is smooth and the flowing lines show the aggressiveness of the SS ..... low and wide, with road hugging ability.

Safety features include; anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), electronic brake assist (EBA) and traction control system (TCS). There are 4 alloy rims running 245/45R18 tyres, the spare is a full size unit, how good is that? The package, as supplied to the Next Car team, was fitted with an optional alloy spare. The ride provided via the sports suspension is firm, not harsh nor uncomfortable, given that the fitted tyres are low profile. In fact, it was a far better ride than than I was expecting. Stopping the package is by 4 wheel ventilated discs, front and rear, with twin piston alloy front callipers and single piston alloy callipers at the rear. Steering system is variable ratio rack and pinion with a turning circle of 11.7 metres. (copyright image)

Power for this beast is provided by Holden’s fourth generation V8 with a capacity of 6.0 litres pumping out 270 kW of sheer grunt at 5,700 rpm and 530 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Our drive package was fitted with a 6 speed manual gearbox. It was not laborious to use, with short throws between the gates and a light clutch pedal enhancing the driving pleasure. An optional 6 speed automatic transmission is available.

The interior appointments include dual stage airbags for driver and passenger, air conditioning, power windows/mirrors, cruise control, AM/FM radio with 6 disc in-dash CD player with an auxiliary input jack for other music sources. Bluetooth is available for compatible mobile telephones. A 6” multi function display is available for the trip computer. The sport seats with matching leather trim on the gear shift knob and steering wheel are very comfortable and supportive which assist in making this unit a real drivers car (utility). Illuminated remote controls are fitted on the steering wheel for the audio and trip computer. The ‘General’ now fits an automatic on/off function for the headlights, so no more flat batteries for the forgetful people amongst us. Fog lights are standard on the SS (and that is what they are, FOG LIGHTS). They should not be used for any other purpose. An offence is committed for misuse of fog lights.

Access to storage areas behind the front seats is simple and there are 4 compartments here with all having cargo nets to secure belongings. For those wishing to tow a braked trailer the maximum towable weight is 1,600 kg and 750 kg for an unbraked trailer. Speed should not exceed 100 km per hour, in a vehicle fitted with manual transmission, whilst towing. Buyers should be aware of this limit, as it effects the vehicle warranty.

The SS ute is priced from $42,490 (RRP) without options (such as metallic paint, leather seats etc).

Overall, this is a very competent vehicle. It has worthiness for both business and pleasure. It 'oozes' street appeal with its head turning capabilities. Holden has a host, in fact, a utility load of accessories to personalise this mean looking beast into what ever you would want it to be.

We were impressed with the very reasonable fuel usage. The trip computer showed a return of 11.1 litres per hundred kilometres over a distance of 610 kms. This was a mix of highway and city driving. We consider this to be quite reasonable.

The Holden Commodore SS Utility demonstrates that the humble ute is no longer humble!


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