Car reviews - Holden - Crewman - 4-dr utility range
Availability of a manual with V6, new V6 performance and refinement, V8 upgrade, automatic transmission improvements, better on-centre steering feel, entry-level equipment upgrade
Room for improvement
No rear seat improvements, even earlier understeer, leaf-spring ride quality, parking challenges, lack of standard ABS, no traction control option
26 Aug 2004
A 250km bitumen-gravel launch drive from Wagga to Albury was enough to remind us of the confidence-inspiring stability and predictability with which Holden’s longest rear-drive vehicle goes about its business.
While the latest four-door ute remains a lesson in lazy, progressive handling, it has also stepped up a rung on the refinement ladder, with the new Alloytec V6 bringing smooth and responsive performance across a much wider rev range than the aged Ectotec V6.
Combined with a slick new six-speed manual and a vastly refined four-speed auto, the base Crewman is now a much more rewarding vehicle to drive, as well as to look at.
In V8 SS spec, which brings go-fast vents but only half a twin exhaust system and therefore only 235kW, Crewman’s bulk is less noticeable and the slightly sharper on-centre steering feel is more greatly appreciated.
But, as with all VZs, we still don’t like the earlier onset of understeer wrought by the more responsive front swaybar.
And Crewman’s leaf-sprung rear-end still can’t cut it on broken bends, bucking and losing traction when it’s needed most. On the upside, Crewman’s leaf-sprung, live rear axle brings handsome payload increases over the IRS Ute, even if its smaller tray is too short to comfortably accommodate a dirtbike.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment with VZ Crewman, however, is that nothing has been done to improve its diabolical rear seat accommodation.
Still lacking the legroom to accommodate adults and the rear seatback incline to allow fitment of a fixed-back child seat, it will seat only a small age group of children comfortably.
The same equipment improvements and specification shortcomings as Ute apply at entry level, but at least now there’s a manual alternative to the belligerent auto and it comes with the same 1600kg towing capacity as the V6 auto.
New Holden By Design options like a rear DVD player, trayback and performance brakes will only serve to widen Crewman’s unexpected popularity even further.
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