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Car reviews - Holden - One-Tonner - Cross 6 2-dr utility

Our Opinion

We like
Ability to blend payload with AWD traction, huge ground clearance, standard equipment list, extra durability, ride/handling
Room for improvement
No V8 option, no Alloytec 190 V6, no five-speed auto, no manual option, no electronic brake assist, no traction control, no hill descent control, optional air-conditioning

Holden logo17 Feb 2005

HOLDEN could be on to a good thing here.

Introduced as part of the VY Commodore ute range in May 2003 (before taking on VYII changes just a few months later in August and then morphing into the VZ late last year), the regular One Tonner’s part-monocoque, part-chassis frame construction has won many new friends.

Introduced to draw back buyers from Ford’s popular separate-cab Falcon, the One Tonner went on to play an integral role in Holden’s domination of the Australian light commercial vehicle market for the first time last year.

And now comes the all-wheel drive version: a logical extension of Holden’s all-wheel drive Crewman dual-cab ute models and, quite possibly, precisely what the man on the land and construction site-based tradesmen have been looking for.

Sure, 4WD versions of commercial utes like Rodeo, Courier, Triton and HiLux have been around for eons, but the One Tonner Cross 6’s roots as a passenger car-derived vehicle give it ride and handling qualities those full chassis-based trucks just can’t match.

And it’s debatable whether many tradesmen need hill-climbing low-range gearing and all the weight and fuel consumption drawbacks associated with the proven durability of four-wheel drive utes.

That’s not to say One Tonner Cross 6 lacks ability: it represents a significant advance in terms of ground clearance, traction and durability on the standard One Tonner, at the expense of a minimal payload decrease.

The AWD Tonner also raises the bar over Falcon’s answer to farmers or tradies in sticky situations – the Falcon RTV ute, which offers extra ground clearance and a rear differential lock for a surprising gain in traction and terrain-crossing ability.

But while RTV includes a V8 option, it simply won’t go places the Cross 6 ute will.

A steep, dry and fairly lose off-road course at the launch proved Holden’s traction control-based Cross Trac AWD system to be highly accomplished in distributing torque to the wheels that need it most.

The system made light work of standing-start take-offs on the slippery slope – against Holden’s advice and despite a couple of vehicles flashing overheating warning lights because of mud caked on their radiators on the 35-degree day – and the Cross 6 simply motored up and out of the kind of slippery conditions that would hopelessly strand any rear-drive ute.

The advantages of a massive 235mm of ground clearance also became apparent on an aggressive ramp-over course that had all vehicles scraping their underbellies but emerging unscathed.

Thanks for this can go largely to the greater durability offered by the Cross 6 via its rear bashplate undertray, heavy-duty engine cradle, front strut bracing, reinforced suspension and heavier-duty brake and cooling systems.

Of course, the beauty of Holden’s Cross Trac system is that it’s rear-wheel biased by 62 per cent, so One Tonner Cross 6 still feels like a regular ute to drive on and off-road – albeit with markedly more ride height and heavier steering - until traction runs out.

Like the rest of Holden’s Commodore-based AWD commercial range, the Cross 6 Tonner misses out on the top-shelf Alloytec 190 and five-speed auto to keep costs down, and although the new Holden V6 sounds primitive and lacks the step-off torque offered by the 3.8 Ecotec it replaces, the improved four-speed auto is enough to make the most of its more flexible rev range.

The Cross 6 version carries over the VZ One Tonner’s better brakes and extra standard kit and, although air-con and a passenger airbag remain optional, the latest Bosch ABS system improves its safety credentials.

But there’s no electronic brake assist, hill descent control, traction control or stability control like that found on Adventra.

Features like these, plus a manual V8 option, could well make the AWD One Tonner the ultimate combination between weekday workhorse and weekend warrior.

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