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Holden Commodore SV6 vs Ford Falcon XR6

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Holden Commodore SV6 and Ford Falcon XR6 go head to head in this comparitive review.

It may well be the most popular bloke's fantasy that we can detail in a family newspaper - driving a Falcon or Commodore around the famed Mount Panorama race circuit.

Even though the V8 Supercars of today bear little resemblance to the racing machines, the masses simply count the cylinders, check the badge and that's enough for them.

When reality hits - purchase price, fuel use, approval from the missus - either of the two locally-built family sedans are more likely to pack six cylinders than eight.

The Adelaide Hills might not be Mount Panorama but 150km of sodden hills roads was covered in each of the six-cylinder sedans from Holden and Ford to get a handle on which one tops the timesheets, I mean the shopping list.

3 stars

VALUE from $42,990

3.5 stars

VALUE from $42,790.

The list price is about line-ball with the SV6 the test-car was a Limited Edition $34,990 XR6 - we'll stick with an apples-for-apples stand-off. Standard fare on the normal XR6 includes a sports-leather steering wheel (with audio and cruise controls), a CD, iPod-integrated  four-speaker sound system, 17in alloy wheels, Bluetooth, bodykit, single zone climate control, alloy pedals, cloth trim and power-adjustable driver's seat.

The VE Commodore has had several updates - the SV6 sedan packs plenty into it's $42,790 pricetag - standard kit includes a colour touch-screen infotainment system with a 1-gig hard drive, CD, MP3 auxiliary and iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth link for phone and audio, dual-zone climate control, seven-speaker sound system, sports seats, front fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 18in alloy wheels.
3 starsTECHNOLOGY 3 starsTECHNOLOGY

The engine might have a long history but it's 24-valve variable-valve top-end helped up the outputs to 195kW and 391Nm. The ZF transmission might have cost Ford more than the alternatives but the programming and "smarts" of the six-speed  are worth it. Fuel consumption but 9.9 litres per 100km on the ADR combined cycle is not far off the Holden - on our road loop the trip computer was showing 11.4.

The final piece in the ethanol puzzle for Commodore has fallen into place, with the 210kW/350Nm 3.6-litre direct-injection V6 now capable of running on E85. The model update has also brought auto transmission tweaks to improve fuel consumption - the SV6 claims a 9.5l/100km thirst for the auto, the roadtest loop of mainly open-road driving (the ADR figure is also open-road biased) saw 10.9litres 100km at an average speed of 53km/h.

3.5 stars

DESIGN

4 starsDESIGN

The fundamentals of this model Falcon can be traced back to the 2002 BA Falcon but it's still a handsome machine. The Falcon is 76mm longer overall at 4970mm, but sits on a shorter 2838mm wheelbase - rear passengers will notice the narrow footspace but the Falcon can comfortably transport four adults and gear without concern. Taller drivers sit "on" rather than "in" behind the low-set steering wheel and the windscreen is also on the low side.

There's not much in the way of change to the SV6's looks - the four-door sedan that got some minor tweaks (including underbody aero treatment) for the Series II update. Despite being 76mm shorter overall at 4894mm, the wheelbase is longer at 2915mm, which does translate to a little more room for rear passengers. The Commodore's cabin easily accommodates four adults and the 496 litre boot has enough room to take their associated luggage without any issue.

3 starsSAFETY 3.5 starsSAFETY

The Falcon boasts a five-star crash test rating as well, with stability control, anti-lock brakes, dual front and front-side airbags, front pre-tensioners, but curtain airbags (as well as reversing sensors, but not a rear camera) are optional. The Ford at least has a temporary spare wheel as standard (with optional matching spare wheel), automatic headlights but no rain-sensing wipers - a limited-slip differential is not even on the options list.

A five-star ANCAP rating has been worn by this car for a while, thanks to standard stability control, anti-lock brakes, dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as front load limiters and pretensioners, but surprisingly for a sports-model there's no standard limited slip differential, nor is there a standard full size spare - the SV6 does have automatic headlights but no rain-sensing wipers; reversing sensors and a rear camera are both optional.

4.5 starsDRIVING 4 starsDRIVING
The XR6 sits nicely on the road and seems a little quieter than the Commodore.
For the most part the Falcon rides well and is composed in the making a nicer noise than the Holden V6.The ZF auto is a much better transmission, reading the driving patterns far more acutely than the GM tranny.There's more meat on the bones of the steering, with good levels of feel. Even in the wet weather the XR6 had good grip and required little in the way of electronic interference or assistance. The amount of information on offer from the easier-to-read centre display, but controlling it with two lots of dash buttons is overly complex.
The Adelaide-built Commodore feels nicely planted on the road and yet steers like a car weighing less than its 1684kg kerb weight. The 3.6-litre V6 and six-speed automatic provide solid punch to the rear wheels (but it's not the most musical of soundtracks) and rarely bothered the electronic aids. Ride is on the firm side but isn't harsh and would be unlikely to deter day-to-day use. The steering is light but not devoid of feel for the driver. Forward vision in the VE is only marred by thick A-pillars and rearvision is slighted by a high rump and small exterior mirrors, the latter also an issue with the Ford.
  FINAL POINTS
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  FINAL POINTS
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VERDICT

Better fuel economy and safety features help the VE put its nose in front - the Falcon is a nicer car to steer, but curtain airbags as standard can't be ignored, nor can any chance to gain on fuel use. The ability to run on E85 (if you can find it) might also convince some, although if fuel use is king you'd be looking at the new LPI XR6 Falcon. Both cars need and should have standard reversing sensors at the very least and the absence of a reversing camera even as an option on the Ford gives the SV6 an edge. The SV6 just sticks its nose in front of the XR6.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 39 comments

  • so this comparison is obviously bias toward the sv6 holden, where in the safety they rate the holden better than the FORD? have a look at the safest cars on the market and then make your desision on safety instead of looking at -WORDS- hello the reality may wake you up to realise which is the safest car out of the two.

    yudodis of New Zealand Posted on 20 September 2013 5:56pm
  • holden try to pass off imported cars as Australian simply because the assemble them here. Why do journalists tell the truth about this? Holdens solution to bearing problems in the V8s when they were reintroduced a few years ago was to cut an inch of the dipstick so people would put more oil in, not to put baffles in the sump. Holden took twice the money from the government over the last ten years than Ford. Why do people still buy cars from this unethical company? Because most don’t know the truth. Speak up journalists.

    Bill the bigot of NE Vic Posted on 12 August 2013 12:15am
  • i worked buy holden….they treat there workers like shit ...the cars are crap and cheap .... holdens are just ugly and they dont bulid there own engines and they lies about being aussie ...there spare parts are so expensive and the ride on them are crap ! God knows why people buy such a ugly fat and flappy car ! why would you want to buy a new VE everyone has had one ...now there slipping in sales ! you cant lie forever holden !

    JON Miller of SA Posted on 05 February 2013 3:08pm
  • 1 own a sv6 six speed manual ute,sidi series engine,before that a ford ute,it wasnt a bad thing,and it was a handful to drive on wet roads and gravel surfaces,the ute tray was shorter,but cab space was spot-on,the ve is the better of the two,however you got to watch that way too low front bumper,it scrapes under the outside edges going into some driveways ,other then that i like the holden more,the ford is set up for towing more so then the ve,with their non irs rear end and has more torque,but for sheer acceleration for overtaking moves the ve wins and its fuel economy is better overall,but thats only my opinion,cheers.

    the old man Posted on 16 June 2012 11:42am
  • I work in new holden sales, and the sheer amount of people coming in to purchase the CommodoreSsportwagon and trading their falcon wagon is mind blowing. All because they want to update but that is their only option. Thanks Ford. Our sales have benifited greatly for that and now even more people are enjoying their new Holden.

    Kurt of Townsville Posted on 15 May 2012 9:48am
  • All well and good Ford owners….until you want a decent looking V6 wagon that drive nicely….SV6 Commodore over Territory for looks, fuel economy, drivability and style….oh yeah the IQ system is a god send for iphone and connections etc!  No Falcon Wagon!!

    goodwone of SA Posted on 06 May 2012 1:43pm
  • Bought a new XR6 Limited Edition off the floor in January 2012 with reversing sensors, 19in alloys, leather trim, auto, $33,990 plus extras. Heaps of power for hwy overtaking and quick lane changes in Canberra, great growling exhaust, steers and brakes very well, beats Commodore for looks hands down. My heavy right foot is averaging 9.7L/100km after 6800km - been down the King Hwy to Bateman’s Bay, around Bellarine Penisular and Great Ocean Road to Lorne, over escarpment to Winchelsea and up the Hume Hwy back to Canberra. Great fun!

    Denis Dominguez of Canberra Posted on 21 April 2012 1:45am
  • Meh.. Chris O’Driscoll comparing apples with apples. Try comparing the G6ET to the Calais V. That’s fair. (it’d trample all over it, too.)

    herb Posted on 02 March 2012 8:32am
  • @ Marto - Holden is superior the sales figures show that. Your inferior falcon is dieing a slow death along with the territory.

    Luke M of Newport Posted on 24 February 2012 9:10pm
  • I travel extesively QLD, have driven both cars (rentals) tens of thousands of kilometers each over the past year. The XR6 has better brakes by far, better handling and outperforms the SV6 in every way including fuel economy. Try connecting Bluetooth to SV6!
    The XR6 is a real drivers car, so good I bought one! DEC 2011.

    greg blomfield of queensland Posted on 15 December 2011 4:56pm
  • If we’re going to start talking about the Falcon turbos (G6E & XR6T), Holden have nothing to really compare. Anything short of a HSV will not match the I6T performance wise. It’s simply a torque monster when required, a relatively economical sleeper when off boost. Anyone who hasn’t experienced it, do yourselves a favour and take one out.. the I6T will likely go down as one of the best Australian developed engines ever, if not the best. Both Falcon and Commodore are great value auto mobiles, Ford continue to build the better car… Holden continues to market an inferior product extremely well, period!

    Marto of Australia Posted on 25 November 2011 10:46pm
  • Really Rob? If you want to drag the G6E turbo into the equation then you really should be introduced to it’s Holden counterpart, the SSV Redline Series. You gotta compare apples with apples mate.

    Chris O'Driscoll of Cairns Posted on 24 November 2011 4:56pm
  • After recently driving this pair I would say probably a fair review. The Falcon is a tad quieter and a touch smoother IM. I think the Commodore has 2 massive advantages though not discussed here. First is the driving position - much more comfortable and “just right”. The Falcon is still struggling with this, especially for taller people. Second, looks! Yes subjective but the Commodore is just much more professionally presented. The Ford looks quite dated. Overall, two excellent cars for the money however.

    Brent of SYDNEY Posted on 12 November 2011 10:08pm
  • Will never convince Holden Commodore dihards that the Falcon is the better drivers car, better handling car, better power and better value and just a better all round package.
    For non one eyed Commodores buyers, just drive the two back to back and you will see that the XR6 definately edges out the opposition. Not that the Commodore is not a good car - it is a great car as well - its just that the XR6 and particularly the G6E Turbo does most things just that little bit better.
    Go on go and try both as you may be pleasantly surprised as to how good the Australian Product is for Australia!!

    Rob Golley of Swansea Tasmania Posted on 08 November 2011 11:31pm
  • Have a cry Bob.
    George the cars were compared on retail price, not runaway prices which both are at around 34-35k right now. Honestly you’d be a nut job to buy these cars at anymore than 36k today. Walk into Ford and walk away with a 35k xr6. Do the same with Holden. And if you pay $43,000 for either of these cars I’ll run you over in your own car lot.

    Stanley Lynch of Melbourne CBD Posted on 05 November 2011 4:43pm
  • Good review. The two cars are very close, however as a Holden fan, I would go with the commodore everyday.  (Also, the LPI that Ford now use was copied from HSV about 5 months back. Look online at the HSV Grange LPI reviews and you’ll find out). Way to steal Holden’s idea Ford, luckily the Holden commodore will recieve LPI early next year. The reason for the wait? Well Holden is perfecting the LPI system to produce much greater power than regular petrol, that’s right! Greater power.

    jordan hevesi of Adelaide Posted on 04 November 2011 1:20pm
  • I have test drove both cars the Falcon drives a lot smoother and I think it has more low down power where you need it in every day driving and the Falcon is $8000.00 cheaper so not sure how you work your value out I know which I’m going with. I will keep my 8 grand and get the XR6 judge for yourselves.

    george of pakenham Posted on 04 November 2011 11:44am
  • Well done MotorMouth - said in true Holden Bogan style. You’ve just successfully contradicted yourself about 5 times by saying there’s nothing between the two cars then writing up the Hol-ding like there’s no tomorrow. Ignorantly yours…..

    bob Posted on 20 October 2011 8:40am
  • @ likes honest reviews - get over it. There is nothing between these two cars, as the review shows. Both are amazing cars and, in the end, you can’t go wrong with either. I’ve driven both and I would go with the SV6, purely on style. The FG still carries too much visual baggage from AU and the SV6 has really nice alloys. When everything else is so close, it’s those kinds of things that tip the balance, so just get over it.
    @ Joe Pesce - there is nothing at all “real world” about ANCAP testing. Manufacturers do a lot more rigorous crash-testing than those boffins. 5 stars is 5 stars, individual scores are hardly relevant.
    @ pauly j - who cares about body panels? It is the underlying engineering that they were talking about and Ford just haven’t had the budget to keep up with Holden. Commodore gets better and better all the time, Falcon hardly changes from year to year.
    @ Blampa - good work ignoring the Holden engine upgrades, Aero improvements and all the rest of it. They can only review the cars they are given, so some announced update is irrelevant if the car they test is an older model.

    MotorMouth of Sydney Posted on 17 October 2011 3:18pm
  • Blampa of Idiotistan, you are slightly wrong about the VE2 update. It includes not only a touch screen and badges, but also bumper changes, light changes, interior changes, slightly longer wheel base, but I suppose you don’t want the facts to get in the way of the point you are trying to make. In any event, if you take much notice of these comparos, aren’t you a simple sausage. Why don’t you try them both out and see which you perfer? I have and all up I think I prefer the Commodore. But that’s not saying that you will … everyone’s tastes are different.

    Jeeves of Hobart Posted on 12 October 2011 8:27am
  • Been past the Newscorp car park recently and found lots and lots of Holden’s there. Now there wouldn’t be a conflict of interest would there? You failed to score the Fords better ANCAP rating in spite of curtain airbags, you’ve failed to mention anywhere on your site the Series 2 update which was announced 3 weeks ago, you’ve basically done the Holden Fanboi shuffle of spinning sh*t in favour of the brand which obviously gives you financial incentives to do so. How can you wax idiotic about the VE Series 2 which is ostensibly just some badges and a touch screen, yet ignore the Falcon Series 2 which has badges, touch screen, bumper changes, interior changes, light changes etc etc? You people deserve an uppercut. Oh, and Michael of Melbourne, if everyone had moved on then why do these 2 local cars sell roughly half of all new cars in Australia? Take your Kia and shove it up your highly trafficked proverbial.

    Blampa of Idiotistan Posted on 11 October 2011 12:57pm
  • lol….“The fundamentals of this model Falcon can be traced back to the 2002 BA Falcon”........What are u guys seeing??? Every panel on the car is different to the BA/BF…..........Another typical biased article which clearly forgets to mention the massive performance advantage the xr6 has over the sv6.

    pauly j of perth Posted on 10 October 2011 11:05pm
  • Gordon of Adelaide, looks alone are subjective. Others would say the VE looks muscular, & side on with high shoulders & short overhang, looks like a predator ready to pounce. Side-on the FG looks dated - long chasis with shorter wheel base just looks clumsy - the V8 (now only in FPV) side-on with its bonnet bulge looks like it has a broken neck.

    looks aint everything but always sells cars of Qld Posted on 10 October 2011 7:43pm
  • I’d rather by an Aurion

    douchebag of brisbane Posted on 10 October 2011 5:29pm
  • Simple, the Holden product is fat and ugly, the Ford product is much nicer to look at. Simple.

    Gordon of Adelaide Posted on 09 October 2011 6:00pm
  • All i can do is laugh at you safety verdict which opposes the Ancap result which gave the falcon higher crash score then the commodore and I think they didn’t have curtain airbags in it either. Also what about the recent Uni study the showed the FG was the safer second hand large car on the market and I think most of them wont have curtain airbags. I think if you really need all the reversing aids like the reverse sensors and camera if manufacturers didn’t make the rear parcel shelf so high if its any higher on the commodore they might as well remove the rear window all together the vision would still be the same.

    should call it commguide of Australia Posted on 09 October 2011 1:16am
  • What a load of crap, no favorites at all at carsguide.

    Ben Posted on 08 October 2011 9:18pm
  • What a rubbish comparison, can’t half tell Holden is in your back pockets. The FG MKII press release was what, 3 weeks ago but no mention of it at all here (with your precious curtain airbags and reverse park assist as standard) yet when Holden did the MY12 update you were all over it.

    Troll No. 47 Posted on 08 October 2011 8:11pm
  • Still amazes me that the motoring press are still banging on about curtain airbags. Modern cars will cost more in airbag replacement at 10 years of age than the car was purchased for brand new.

    John of Sydney Posted on 08 October 2011 9:04am
  • Lol geez, Mr Martin you are an idiot.

    James Brisbane of Northside Posted on 08 October 2011 6:55am
  • “likes honest reviews” - get over yourself - they are both great cars, they scored the falcon better on some things and commodore better on other things, and commodore come out with a higher overal score. Whats your problem with that? Theres nothing dishonest in the review - and they were correct and “honest” with the fact that the commodore is better styled, and the falcon drives slightly better.

    Nice Read of Perth, WA Posted on 08 October 2011 4:47am
  • Who really cares which one is better? The buying public has long since deserted both of these poorly executed, poorly made bogan chariots.17 vs 18 points? Are you for real? Just so Dazza can feel his heart flutter as he looks at his signed HSV memorabilia in the rumpus room… really relevant.

    Michael of Melbourne Posted on 08 October 2011 1:05am
  • How the Falcon FG can not come out on top in a safety test when it was found to be the safest car in real crushes in the real world is a joke!!! This data was from real crushes.. The FG is the safest car on the road for God sake!! Yet carsguide seems to think it knows better than actual data from real crushes!!!

    Joe Pesce of West Rdye Posted on 07 October 2011 11:21pm
  • What a pathetic piece of tripe…why not base the value on the real price of $34,990? This sound like the work of a 12 year old fan boy to his school mates…even though the falcons ANCAP score is higher, the commodore is still safer?

    Sheesh…

    Nikk of Tamworth Posted on 07 October 2011 10:51pm
  • Lol what a joke. No matter how good the falcon is they will never give the award to it.
    How is the Commodore safer despite the Ancap testing found the Falcon IS safer in a crash?

    Seb of Australia Posted on 07 October 2011 10:38pm
  • So the falcon with a higher ancap score and for that 42,990 would have curtain airbags isnt safer? You guys must have a different opinion to the testers of the worlds most trusted safety testing company…

    mik Posted on 07 October 2011 10:21pm
  • Nice to see the journos rushing this comparison in before the falcon update - can’t wait for the re-match (anytime soon??)

    Ivan of Adelaide of Australia Posted on 07 October 2011 7:29pm
  • So, because you can get the Falcon cheaper, you went with the higher list price. You went off the trip computer for fuel usage, and not actual fuel used (the computer can be off, and the Holdens are often saying much lower on a highway cycle). Also (as Volvo as often pointed out) visibility is the best safety feature you can have in a car, reversing sensors/camera mean shit in a lane change, and frankly you can lose a pretty big object in the Holden rear 3/4, oh, might be why there are curtain airbags.

    likes honest reviews of BRISBANE Posted on 07 October 2011 12:49pm
  • There was a competitive piece done recently…

    VM of Victoria Posted on 07 October 2011 9:25am
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