17 May 2018

Holden Commodore 2018 Car Review

The first things to strike most armchair commentators when they see the latest Commodore wagon is what a handsome, sleek design it has, and how European it looks in contrast to the solidly muscular lines we’re used to from the traditionally Aussie nameplate.

Holden commodore awd wagon jm8 18
Holden Commodore 2018
Holden commodore awd wagon jm5 18
Holden Commodore 2018
Holden commodore awd wagon jm2 18
Holden Commodore 2018
Holden commodore awd wagon jm3 18
Holden Commodore 2018
Holden commodore awd wagon jm6 18
Holden Commodore 2018
Holden commodore awd wagon jm11 18
Holden Commodore 2018

No surprises, then, that given Holden no longer builds an Australian Commodore, this is a European design inside and out. Elsewhere it’s badged as an Opel or Vauxhall Insignia. The Aussie badge has benefited from the transaction, for there’s more to this wagon than just looks.

There’s no longer a V8 in the range, so the V6 is the headliner in engine terms, and it silences eight-cylinder lovers with the extra punch sent to those 18-inch wheels, for power can go to all four of them.

Throw in a higher spec for this VX-R than the outgoing SV6 and a three-year service deal, and you have better value, even before you get in and drive it.

The good impressions continue inside this variant. Cabin design is also sleeker, the layout clear and easy to use, and though some surfaces feel a little plasticky, there was nothing to complain about build quality or, for that matter, feel in those areas you touch most often.

This wagon is a smidge narrower than the previous Commodore, not so noticeable in front, but perhaps problematical if you need to fit three child seats side by side: check before buying as that centre pew is quite narrow, and elevated in profile.

As for the boot, this wagon may look long and lean, but the luggage space is generous under the blind, very generous without it, and the 40/20/40 rear seats spring into the folded position to at the pull of a lever to impart a long flat floor if required.

Under it, a spare spacesaver wheel and tyre is optional – the car comes with a tyre inflator kit as standard.

Second-row passengers get their own air vents, and two USB charge points while specification includes six airbags, heated front sports seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and eight-way electronic adjustment for the driver, and six-way manual for the passenger, steering wheel-mounted paddle shift and audio controls, a 12V power point for the boot, advanced park assist, a hands-free tailgate, cruise control – albeit not adaptive – auto headlamps with tunnel detection, satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with hands-free phone, plus what Holden calls a ‘premium gear knob’. There’s even wireless phone charging – think electric toothbrush – if you have the right model of cell.

The good impressions continue once you’re under way. This car’s petrol turbo and diesel turbo siblings use MacPherson strut and independent rear suspension, but here you get what Holden calls ‘Hiperstrut’ up front, a sports tune that works very well. Ride feels supple on bumpy urban and rural back-country roads, yet precise enough if you want to lift the pace, while the all-wheel drive system can split drive between those wheels, particularly appreciated by our rural tester during a wet drive stint with slick and debris-strewn roads. Purists might miss the Aussie-built Commodore’s ability to step the rear out at times, but most drivers will appreciate the additional safety imparted by that extra grip, not to mention the stronger drive out of corners and away from intersections in even gnarly conditions.

Want to select sport mode? You can choose ‘sport mode customisation’ instead of auto and sharpen the steering and transmission, but the suspension just gets on with what it’s best at.

Also better than before, the responses of many of the safety nannies, which were often a little too reactive in the previous Commodore – especially that forward collision warning, which used to predict impacts against corner warning signs, and now is far less likely to cry wolf. Active lane keep is another matter on narrow rural roads, but you can disable the alert if required, and leave it active where appropriate – such as on long trips, where fatigue might lead to inadvertently straying from your lane.

Really, the only niggles during our stint with the car apply to those with three children needing a rear seat that more closely accommodates their requirements – or those who prefer fuel frugality over performance: our hilly semi-rural commute, errands and some sporty bursts stint averaged out at 11.2l/100km.

Who is likely to buy a Euro designed, Aussie badged, large all-wheel-drive wagon? Arguably Holden need not fear its staunchest Commodore fans will stay away. The minority who will consider nothing not built in Aussie tend to buy used, and the rest will enjoy the updates, and likely consider this RS-V wagon alongside any front-drive large six-cylinder, or as competition for Subaru’s 3.6-litre Legacy. 

At a glance


Holden Commodore RS-V wagon


3.6-litre V6



ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

235kW at 6800rpm, 381Nm at 5200rpm


Nine-speed auto  

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety systems

Forward collision alert with head-up warning

Lane Keep Assist

Autonomous emergencey braking

Pedestrian detection

Blind spot alert

Rear cross traffic alert

Rear view camera

Two Isofix child seat fittings

Previous review
Next review
Haval H9 2018 Car Review
Read more
Subaru Outback 2018 Car Review
Read more