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Holden Commodore RS liftback 2018 review

From the exterior to interior to the way it drives, this car is all new.

It's been a while in between Commodores, for me anyway. So long that I didn't even register this car was a Commodore! It's rather glamorous for a Holden, don't you think? My neighbours thought so too. In fact I got lots of comments this week, I think everyone has a soft spot for the family car we all had once upon a time, and seeing an updated Commodore got everybody a tad nostalgic.

But there's nothing old about this Commodore.

From the exterior to interior to the way it drives, this car is all new. I was in the RS, which is second from the bottom in a range of eight models. And it's a liftback, which is a very swish shape, somewhere between a hatchback and a sedan, so it looks seriously sporty. Was there enough room for my family of four? I drove it over seven days to find out.

The liftback is a very swish shape, somewhere between a hatchback and a sedan. The liftback is a very swish shape, somewhere between a hatchback and a sedan.

How does it drive?

It's solid. I was in the Commodore RS which is a 2.0-litre, four cylinder petrol engine, so you're not getting the full V6 experience (though there are V6s in the range, seek them out if that's what you're after). But for family driving on the suburban route from home to work and school and daycare and round to sporting activities, the four cylinders were all I needed.

I found the steering slightly stiff but nothing major, and the handling was good. It has enough power to get up hills quickly and I didn't feel as though I was lacking in the speed department. It took corners well and I felt confident driving it. All in all, a good drive.

Parking was fine thanks to the reverse parking camera and rear collision warnings, but the turning circle was quite large, which is always a hassle when you're doing lots of turns to try and find a park for school pick-up.

It's lower than an SUV obviously, so you don't have that high vantage point on the road, but I'm used to that and it just depends on your personal preference.

The steering was slightly stiff but nothing major, and the handling was good. The steering was slightly stiff but nothing major, and the handling was good.

What does it look like?

It certainly looks better than an SUV. And definitely doesn't look like an old Commodore. It looks slick. Someone I know mistook it for a BMW. Almost everyone who saw it asked about it. The liftback shape is sporty but still has the hallmarks of a sedan, and the back tapers up at the corners for a sleek finish. It's ultra modern.

Inside is pretty stylish, too. Even in this low-range model, the interiors are well designed - not super flashy, but everything has had an update and it all works together well. There are fabric seats but not a cheap fabric, they were actually nice to feel and comfortable to sit on.

The centre console looks good and there's a high gloss black finish with a lid to cover cupholders and a soft-closing storage area which really lifts the whole interior. It's a simple way to give off an impression of luxury without actually doing much and it feels new and fresh.

There's a leather steering wheel, it's not a swanky leather but it's fine, and while there's nothing super fancy about it, it's not plain either. You feel good driving it which I think is the most important thing.

It certainly looks better than an SUV. And definitely doesn't look like an old Commodore. It certainly looks better than an SUV. And definitely doesn't look like an old Commodore.

 

How spacious is it?

There is lots of room in the front and passenger seats, both for me and my 185cm husband who drives as though he's reclinging on a lounge. It's also wide enough that we have our own space and don't feel cramped.

The back seat is big enough for my four-year-old and six-year-old to have a good amount of space in between them, and while I was able to fit a baby capsule alongside their seats, that doesn't mean it wasn't squishy - it was. So if you've got three children in child seats I would think about whether you wanted to bend down and buckle them all up every day, or whether an SUV is more sensible.

If you've got three children in child seats, an SUV might be more sensible. If you've got three children in child seats, an SUV might be more sensible.

If the kids are out of car seats though (or at least one of them), there is enough room.

I'm always surprised at how big the boots are in sedans, and while the RS is officially a liftback, the boot doesn't disappoint. It's 490 litres which is bigger than some mid-size SUVs. The boot is long and deep, and almost all of the space is usable without blocking your rear vision. It'll fit a pram, a full load of groceries and most other things that families need.

The boot is long and deep, and almost all of the space is usable without blocking your rear vision. The boot is long and deep, and almost all of the space is usable without blocking your rear vision.

How easy is it to use everyday?

The Commodore is still a good ol' Commodore when you need it to be, in that it comes with everything you'd expect of a car in 2018. Two cupholders in the front and two in the back, along with bottle holders in each door. There's a small storage spot in the front to throw keys and a phone which I always think is very important, plus a centre storage bin and pockets on the back of the front door.

Even though it's lower than an SUV, the boot opens at a decent height to lift groceries in and out of, and the car is at a good height that the kids can climb in without needing help - something both they and I appreciate. Yes, the lower height does mean you have to lean over to buckle children up, but depending on how tall you are and what age the little ones are, this becomes less annoying over time.

There are rear air vents for the back row which is always a good thing while driving in this hot country of ours.

Even though it's lower than an SUV, the boot opens at a decent height to lift groceries in and out of. Even though it's lower than an SUV, the boot opens at a decent height to lift groceries in and out of.

How safe is it?

Even in this lower end model, the Commodore RS comes with all the latest safety tech, including things like auto emergency braking, lane departure warnings and rear cross traffic alerts, which were very helpful when I was coming out of my driveway which is a total blindspot.

It has airbags covering the driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags extending to the back row. There are also two ISOFIX points and three top tethers for children's car seats.

All this gets the Commodore a maximum five star ANCAP rating.

The Commodore RS comes with all the latest safety tech. The Commodore RS comes with all the latest safety tech.

What's the tech like?

The multimedia screen is 7.0-inch which weirdly feels small these days, but it's not. Plug your phone in and be instantly connected to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto which means your phone's main apps will show up on the multimedia screen and you'll be able to use things like maps and Spotify. My favourite bit about CarPlay is that you can use voice control to make phone calls, without ever touching your actual phone, so you'll never get in trouble while driving #putthephonedown.

What does it cost to run?

The Commodore RS comes in at $37,290, with a fuel consumption of 7.6 litres for every 100km, and you'll need 95RON premium petrol for it to run at its best.

Holden offers its standard, three year/100,000km warranty and services should be scheduled every 12months or 12,000km.

The Commodore RS has a fuel consumption of 7.6 litres for every 100km. The Commodore RS has a fuel consumption of 7.6 litres for every 100km.


The Wrap

I found the Holden Commodore a pleasant surprise this week, mainly for superficial reasons - it looks pretty fab and I got loads of comments on it. It drives well with enough power and has a good amount of space for my family of four, plus has all the latest safety and technology, which is pretty good for a car under $40K.

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10, my children gave it the same, they always like being able to climb into a car that isn't too high off the ground.

Likes

Exterior design
Boot space
Latest safety tech

Dislikes

Three kids car seats is squashy in the rear

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$26,888 - $38,488

Based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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