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Review: Holden VE Commodore (2006-13)

Holden VE.I Commodore (2006-10)

Overview

Released in August 2006, the Holden VE Series I (VE.I) Commodore was a large, rear-wheel drive sedan (the related VE Berlina, VE Calais and VE Sportwagon have been reviewed separately). Manufactured in Elizabeth, South Australia, the VE Commodore range was initially available with 3.6-litre V6 and 6.0-litre V8 petrol engines, while the range consisted of Omega, SV6, SS and SS V variants (see table below).

Engines

Of the engines:
  • For the Commodore Omega, the 3.6-litre ‘Alloytec’ LE0 V6 petrol engine had all-aluminium construction, a forged steel crankshaft, forged powdered metal connecting rods, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), sequential electronic fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable intake camshaft phasing, electronic throttle control, twin knock control sensors and a compression ratio of 10.2:1. For the VE range, the Alloytec engines were fitted with new variable intake manifolds, Bosch E77 engine control systems with digital sensors for crank and camshaft positions, front and rear oxygen (O2) sensors, retuned harmonic balancers and free-flowing exhaust systems. In November 2008 (‘MY09.5’), the engine was modified for lower emissions and improved fuel economy;
  • For Commodore Omega models with the LE0 engine, buyers could specify a factory-fitted dual fuel (petrol/LPG) system that was developed by IMPCO and provided sequential vapour gas injection. Designated LW2, the dual fuel engine had different valves and hardened titanium valve seats;
  • For the Commodore SV6, the high-output LY7 version of this engine also had continuously variable exhaust camshaft phasing and a new dual exhaust system;
  • From September 2009 (‘MY10’), the Omega and SV6 variants were powered by 3.0-litre LF1 and 3.6-litre LLT V6 petrol engines which had direct injection (Holden’s Spark Ignition Direct Injection or SIDI) - whereby fuel was pressurised and injected directly into the combustion chamber compression – and variable exhaust camshaft phasing (previously omitted from the LE0). The 3.0-litre LF1 and 3.6-litre LLT engines had compression ratios of 11.7:1 and 11.3:1, respectively, and were both fitted with dual exhaust systems.
  • For the SS and SS V variants, the 6.0-litre L98 pushrod V8 engine had all-aluminium construction, flat-topped pistons, forged powered metal connecting rods, a billet steel camshaft, two valves per cylinder, external knock sensors and a compression ratio of 10.4:1; and,
  • From January 2009, the SS and SS V variants – with automatic transmissions – were powered by 6.0-litre L76 engines which had displacement on demand hardware (Holden’s Active Fuel Management or AFM) that could shut down four cylinders under light throttle loads in higher gears. Although similar to the L98 engine, the L76 engine had a different camshaft profile and a smaller sump.

For the VE range, new engine control systems were introduced which used digital sensors for crank and camshaft positions. Service intervals for the V8 engines were also extended to 15,000 kilometres (previously 10,000 kilometres).

Transmissions

The V6 engines were available with four-speed 4L60E automatic, five-speed 5L40E automatic, six-speed 6L50 automatic and six-speed Aisin D173/AY6 manual transmissions.

The V8 engines were initially available with six-speed Tremec T56 manual and newly introduced six-speed 6L80 automatic transmissions, the latter with an ‘Active Select’ function – shared with the 6L50 – that enabled the driver to perform sequential gearshifts by tapping the gear shifter. For the VE range, the T56 transmission had shorter ratios, reduced clutch pedal travel and was upgraded with triple-synchronised capacity for the first and second gears, and double-synchronised capacity for the third to sixth gears.

In September 2009, the T56 unit was replaced by the Tremec TR6060 manual transmission which had wider gearsets for improved torque capacity and durability, though gear ratios were unchanged.
Holden VE.I Commodore specifications
Variant Engine Trans Production Peak power Peak torque
Omega 3.6-litre LE0
petrol V6
4sp auto Aug 2006 to Oct 2008 180kW at 6000rpm 330Nm at 2600rpm
Nov 2008 to Aug 2009 175kW at 6500rpm 325Nm at 2400rpm
3.0-litre LF1
petrol V6 SIDI
6sp auto Sep 2009 to Aug 2010 190kW at 6700rpm 290Nm at 2900rpm
3.6-litre LW2 petrol/LPG V6 4sp auto Oct 2006 to Oct 2008 175kW at 6000rpm 325Nm at 2600rpm
Nov 2008 to Aug 2010 175kW at 6500rpm 318Nm at 2400rpm
SV6 3.6-litre LY7
petrol V6
5sp auto,
6sp man.
Aug 2006 to Sep 2009 195kW at 6500rpm 340Nm at 2600rpm
3.6-litre LLT
petrol V6 SIDI
6sp auto,
6sp man.
Sep 2009 to Aug 2010 210kW at 6400rpm 350Nm at 2900rpm
SS,
SS V
6.0-litre L98 petrol V8 6sp man. Aug 2006 to Aug 2010 270kW at 5700rpm 530Nm at 4400rpm
6sp auto Aug 2006 to Dec 2008
6.0-litre L76 petrol V8 AFM 6sp auto Jan 2009 to Aug 2010 260kW at 5700rpm 517Nm at 4400rpm

Development and dimensions

The product of a $1 billion investment program, the VE Commodore was a ‘clean sheet’ design which had a more rigid body than its VZ predecessor – due to a higher proportion of advanced-strength steels – and an almost 50:50 weight distribution as the engine was positioned low and rearward within the engine bay, a saddle-style fuel tank was introduced and the battery was positioned in the rear of the vehicle.

For greater refinement, the VE Commodore had a stiffer engine cradle with six mounting points, acoustic laminated windscreens, new engine covers and bonnet insulators, new sound absorption packages (behind the engine bay and between the transmission and transmission tunnel), insulating carpets and a new double-isolated ZF differential. Tyre pressures were also increased to 250kPa (36.25 psi) to reduce rolling resistance and improve fuel economy.

Compared to the VZ Commodore, the VE Commodore sedan was 3 mm longer (at 4894 mm), 57 mm wider (1899 mm), 26 mm taller (1476 mm) and had a 127 mm longer wheelbase (2915 mm).

From September 2009, the VE.I Commodore was fitted with additional engine bay insulation and a quieter muffler, while models with 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels were also fitted with low rolling-resistance Bridgestone Turanza tyres for improved fuel economy.

Suspension

The VE Commodore had ‘Linear Control’ suspension which consisted of double-pivot MacPherson strut-based front suspension with dual lower links (with individual ball joints), a tension link, lateral link and a direct acting stabiliser bar. The rear suspension was a four-link independent system with coil-over shock absorbers, three lateral ball joints per side and a decoupled stabiliser bar. The Omega had a ‘comfort biased’ suspension tune, while the SV6, SS and SS V had sport handling settings.

In September 2009 (‘MY10’), the rear suspension was revised with an additional cross-axis ball joint (in place of a rubber bush in the lower control arm); sports sedans were also fitted with a larger 20 mm rear sway bar.

Safety equipment

Standard safety equipment for the Holden VE Commodore Omega included dual front airbags, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control and front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters. The SV6 and SS were also fitted with front seat-mounted side airbags, while the range-topping SS V was fitted with full-length curtain airbags (i.e. for front and rear occupants).

From March 2008, however, front side airbags and full-length curtain airbags were standard across the range. In November 2008, an energy-absorbing steering column shroud was introduced for improved knee protection and the Omega variants received a passenger seat belt reminder (subsequently fitted to other variants).

Brakes

VE Commodore models with V6 engines had 298 mm by 30 mm ventilated front brake discs with twin-piston callipers and 302 mm by 22 mm ventilated rear discs with single-piston callipers. Models with V8 engines, however, had 321 mm by 30 mm front discs and 324 mm by 22 mm rear discs.

ANCAP crash testing

In ANCAP crash testing, a VE Commodore Omega – equipped with dual front airbags – initially received a four star adult occupant protection rating with a score of 26.45 out of 37. In the offset crash test, protection from serious leg injury was marginal for the driver. In the side impact test, occupant protection was good though a rear door opened during the crash, resulting in a one point deduction. Models produced from 2007 were awarded an additional point for an intelligent driver's seatbelt reminder, taking their score to 27.45.

For models produced after November 2008 – i.e. equipped with six airbags, a steering column shroud and passenger seatbelt reminder – a five star adult occupant protection rating was awarded with a score of 33.45 out of 37. In the offset crash test, there was a slight risk of serious chest and lower leg injury for the driver. In the side impact and pole tests, maximum points were awarded.

Features: Commodore Omega

Standard features for the Commodore Omega included a six speaker sound system with CD player, MP3-compatibility and auxiliary inputs, a four-way power adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, multifunction steering wheel controls, automatic headlights, remote central locking, power windows and mirrors, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, a 12 volt power outlet, trip computer and immobiliser.

From March 2008 ('MY09'), standard features were improved with the addition of air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, body colour wing mirrors and door handles, and a chrome grille insert. From November 2008 ('MY09.5'), white instrument cluster illumination was made standard across the range.

Features: Commodore SV6 and SS

Compared to the Omega, the Commodore SV6 added 18-inch alloy wheels with sports suspension, a seven speaker sound system, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, front fog lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Commodore SS was further equipped with a limited slip differential and six-stack CD player, while the range-topping SS V was differentiated by its 19-inch alloy wheels, eleven speaker sound system, dual zone climate control air conditioning, leather seats, projector headlights, alloy-faced pedals and leather-wrapped gearshift.

March 2009: VE Commodore update

In March 2009, the VE.I Commodore's space-saving spare tyre was discontinued and replaced with – at the buyer's choice – either a tyre inflator kit or full-size spare wheel. The dark grey horizontal dashboard strip and steering wheel spokes used on the SV6, SS and SS V were also replaced with a matte silver finish.

2006 VE Commodore V-Series

In August 2006, a limited-run V-Series variant was released; based on the Omega, the V-Series was distinguished by its 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, rear spoiler and body-coloured mirrors and door handles.

2007 VE Commodore Lumina

In June 2007, a limited run Lumina was released; based on the Omega, the Lumina added air conditioning, 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and rear parking sensors. Visually, the Lumina could be identified by its unique front grille, Lumina badging and body-coloured door handles and mirrors.

2008 Commodore 60th Anniversary

In April 2008, a limited-run 60th Anniversary variant was released; based on the Omega, the 60th Anniversary variant added 18-inch alloy wheels, Onyx leather seat inserts, Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, front grille insert and rear badge. A 60th Anniversary-badged SS V was also released, featuring 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, satellite navigation with colour screen, rear parking sensors, chrome door handles, a high mount rear spoiler, '60th Anniversary' floor mats and rear badge.

2009 VE Commodore SS V Special Edition

In October 2009, a Special Edition SS V was released; similarly equipped to the standard SS V, the Special Edition was visually differentiated by its twin-nostril front fascia, unique lower splitter, twin letter-box hood scoops, decklid spoiler and chrome headlights. The SS V Special Edition was available in Phantom Black, Red Hot and Voodoo Blue paint finishes.

2009 VE Commodore International

Released in November 2009, the International variant was based on the Omega but added 18-inch alloy wheels, a Berlina-style front grille, leather seat trim, Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Brochures

Related links

Holden VE.II Commodore (2010-13)

Overview

Released in September 2010, the VE Series II (VE.II) Commodore introduced an updated interior with additional features, a subtle facelift, new engines and improved fuel economy. For the engines, flex-fuel capability was introduced for the 3.0-litre V6 and 6.0-litre V8 engines, designated LFW and L77, respectively. With flex-fuel capability, the engine could run on a mixture of petrol and ethanol up to E85 (i.e. 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol). Although ethanol has a lower energy density than petrol, its higher octane rating enables it to provide greater performance.

Fuel consumption was improved through improved aerodynamics (all variants other than the Omega were fitted underfloor air flow panels), a clutched air conditioning compressor and lower engine idle speed for the 3.6-litre LLT SIDI V6.

Visually, the VE.II Commodore could be identified by its squarer front fascia, reshaped headlights, more prominent grille and bumper and ‘aero lip’ boot. Compared to the Omega, the SV6 and SS had larger upper grilles, squarer detailing around the lower lights and air intake and differently shaped headlights with black bezels.

November 2011 update (MY12): LFX engine and 6L45 transmission

In November 2011, several changes were introduced for improved fuel efficiency:
  • For models with V6 engines, the six-speed 6L50 transmission was replaced by the more efficient 6L45 unit;
  • For models with the 3.0-litre LFW V6 engine, a revised torque converter was introduced;
  • The 3.6-litre LLT petrol engines were replaced by flex-fuel 3.6-litre LFX V6 engines; and,
  • For all models, the air conditioning system was re-engineered to improve efficiency and draw less power.

LWR dedicated LPG engine

In February 2012, the dual fuel LW2 V6 engine was replaced by the dedicated LPG LWR V6 engine. The 3.6-litre LWR engine had multi-point vapour injection (rather than liquid injection as per the Ford FG Falcon's ‘LPI’ engine) which heated the gas immediately prior to injection. Compared to the 3.6-litre LY7 engine, the dedicated LPG engine had hardened valves and valve seats, a redesigned cylinder head and manifold for improved air flow, variable exhaust valve timing, specially-developed fuel injectors, new pistons with pentroof-style domes, a compression ratio of 12.2:1, a new fuel rail and new LPG fuel filter. Like other models with V6 engines, the LWR engine was also mated to the six-speed 6L45 automatic transmission.

To alleviate concerns over range, the dedicated LPG Commodores were fitted with an 84-litre twin cylinder fuel tank manufactured from high-strength, aircraft-grade extruded aluminium. To accommodate the tank, the spare wheel was omitted and a puncture repair kit was provided. Models with the dedicated LPG engine also had a single pipe exhaust system to conserve mass.
Holden VE.II Commodore specifications
Variant Engine Years Trans. Peak power Peak torque
Omega 3.0-litre LFW petrol/E85 V6 2010-13 6sp auto 190kW at 6700rpm 290Nm at 2900rpm
3.6-litre LW2 petrol/LPG V6 2010-11 4sp auto 175kW at 6500rpm 318Nm at 2400rpm
3.6-litre LWR LPG V6 2012-13 6sp auto 180kW at 6000rpm 320Nm at 2000rpm
SV6 3.6-litre LLT
petrol V6 SIDI
2010-13 6sp man.,
6sp auto
210kW at 6400rpm 350Nm at 2900rpm
3.6-litre LWR LPG V6 2012-13 6sp auto 180kW at 6000rpm 320Nm at 2000rpm
SS,
SS V
6.0-litre L77 petrol/E85 V8 2010-13 6sp man. 270kW at 5700rpm 530Nm at 4400rpm
SS,
SS V
6.0-litre L77 petrol/E85 V8 AFM 2010-13 6sp auto 260kW at 5700rpm 517Nm at 4400rpm

Safety equipment

Compared to the VE.I Commodore, safety equipment was largely unchanged.

Features

Standard features for the Omega were extended to include new 16-inch alloy wheels, 6.5-inch colour touch-screen Holden-iQ system with single CD player, MP3-compatibility, USB and auxiliary inputs, integrated iPod support, Bluetooth audio streaming, touch-screen dialing, enhanced Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and dual zone climate control air conditioning.

Beyond this, the SV6 and SS gained 18-inch twin five-spoke machined alloy wheels, SS-style contoured front seats, high clarity sports instrumentation, new interior colours and trim. The SS V was differentiated by its 19-inch twin five-spoke machined alloy wheels, full-colour navigation mapping with voice control and real-time traffic information, rear camera and rear parking sensors.

Redline package

A 'Redline' handling package was also available for the SS V; this included forged and polished 19-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels with low profile tyres, FE3 suspension tune with high performance dampers and stiffer anti-roll bars, Brembo two-piece and four-piston front brake calipers with 355 mm inner-vented rotors and chromed window surrounds.

2011 VE.II Commodore Equipe

In October 2011, an Equipe variant was released; compared to the Omega, the Equipe featured 18-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, front fog lights, a reversing camera with park assist and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Visually, the Equipe could be identified by its chrome highlights on the grille, bootlid and instrument fascia.

The Equipe variant returned in February 2012, coinciding with the introduction of the dedicated LPG engine. Compared to the Omega, this Equipe variant was further equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seat trim, front fog lights, a rear view camera and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

November 2011: Commodore MY12

In addition to the mechanical changes described above, the iQ media interface was enhanced in November 2011 with improved Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone-compatibility updates. Furthermore,
  • Omega variants were fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels and distinguished by a revised bumper with chrome highlights;
  • The SV6 and SS variants received chrome highlights around the air intake and grille; the SS V added chrome-lipped fog light surrounds, with red stitching also available; and,
  • The SS V Redline was fitted with new 19-inch alloy wheels and red painted Brembo brake calipers.

Commodore Z-Series: September 2012

In September 2012, limited-run Z-Series editions were released for all the variants within the Commodore range (i.e. Omega, SV6, SS and SS V). Standard Z-Series features included 18-inch alloy wheels, leather appointed seats, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel and ‘Z-Series’ badges. The SV6 and SS Z-Series editions were further equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels (though 18-inch alloys for LPG models) and leather bolstered seats, while the SS V Z-Series was distinguished by its 19-inch forged alloy wheels, Brembo front brakes, FE3 sports suspension and sunroof.

Brochures

Related links