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Car reviews - Holden - Commodore - Vacationer 5-dr wagon


9 Nov 1990

HOLDEN'S half-baked 1988 VN Commodore was spared the public basting its Ford EA Falcon received in its first year, yet both cars suffered similar quality and durability problems. It was just that the big Ford was first. Nevertheless the VN gained a Wheel's Car of the Year award, a decision the magazine said in 2003 that it would not have made in hindsight (the Honda EF Civic was more deserving). Over the outgoing VL, the VN was almost all-new, with a new body, interior and drivetrain. But new didn't mean better: the US-made 3.8 V6 (which replaced the smooth and strong RB30 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and electronic four-speed auto that Holden purchased from Nissan in Japan until currency fluctuations made that unviable) was already dated as well as noisy, vibratory and unrefined. Its four-speed auto was clunky. And that new wide body draped a noticably narrow track, for Holden used the 1978-vintage VB Commodore underpinnings. So the result was an awkward-looking car, a situation not really rectified until the beautifully proportioned VT arrived in 1997. Holden worked hard to right the early VN wrongs, with the Series II of 1990 gaining minor mechanical updates and a few trim changes to address these. But in the end, the VN has gone down in history as not one of Holden's better efforts, despite its success against the equally flawed - but far more handsome - Falcon of the day.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 October 1990 to 1 September 1991

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