Holden’s desire to enter the 4WD crossover market came to fruition in 2003 with the introduction of the Holden Adventra. Initially released as a brutish V8 all-wheel drive (AWD) with a 4-speed automatic transmission, it received a lukewarm reception from the crossover-buying public in Australia. Perceived in some quarters as a marketing ploy to leverage the Commodore badge (the original Adventra is a close derivative of the VYII Holden Commodore), the CX8 and LX8 trims were heavy on fuel and less refined than Ford’s runaway champion in the category – the Ford Territory.
In 2005, Holden bowed to market pressure and developed a 6-cylinder version of the Adventra to compete directly with Ford. Featuring Holden’s new Alloytec 190 V6 with a much-improved 5-speed auto gearbox, the SX6, CX6, and top-of-the-line LX6 added a tougher and more rugged feel to the crossover wagon with a wider front fascia and aggressively styled air intake.
Compared with the CX8 and LX8, the 6-cylinder AWD versions seemed like more complete vehicles. Auto shifts are smooth, while the paddle-shift mode gives you more control when needed. The biggest gain though is the V6 Adventra’s Hill Descent Control (HDC), which is absent from the V8. With HDC engaged, the Adventra finds its own way down a gradient without the driver needing to use the brake or accelerator. It can even do it in reverse! Production of both the V8 and V6 Adventras ceased in 2006.
The V8 Adventras are powerful but thirsty machines. The CX8s and LX8s rely on a 235kW to 245kW rated 5.7L Generation III engine to pull their c.2-tonne frame around. As you might expect, the 4-speed auto transmission feels geared for power rather than economy. On the highway, around 12-13L/100km can be expected with cruise control engaged. Get stuck in traffic though and you’ll find a substantial hole burned in your wallet with consumption hitting highs of 22L/100km. Drives over mixed terrain are likely to see values settle around 15-17L/100km.
The 3.6L 190kW rated lightweight aluminium Alloytec V6 is a little more efficient at pulling the less weighty SX6, CX6, and LX6. Expect in the region of 9-11L/100km on the highway and somewhere closer to 14-15L/100km when tackling more demanding drives.
Of course, one big feature on all Adventras is the Cross Trac AWD system. It delivers comprehensive and precise all-wheel traction for tarmac, loose dirt, and gravel surfaces via automatic brake differential software. Torque is split 38/62 in favour of the rear wheels. Induce a slide or go cross-country and you’ll see how quickly (and effortlessly) traction is distributed to each wheel to keep you stable. It’s just a pity that it chews through tyres so quickly off road.
Inside every Adventra a pleasingly spacious cabin greets the eyes. There’s plenty of room for a family of 5, plus a couple of dogs, a load of scuba diving gear, and anything the kids want to bring along too. Without passengers, the 60/40 split rear seats fold down flat to give a truly cavernous cargo hold.
Explore further and you’ll find Adventras to be feature-rich crossover wagons. The basic SX6 comes with cruise control, CD, ABS, airbags, parking sensors, ESP stability control, and HDC as standard, while the CX6 adds climate control, a 6-stack CD player, leather trim, and manual shift paddle to the mix. Both also have 17-inch alloy wheels as standard.
The LX6 and LX8 feature similarly high specs with active front head restraints, 17-inch alloy 5-spoke wheels, and clear lens fog lights. Less inspiring on all models is the plainly sculpted plastic dash. It does little to lift the interior.
Competing against the Adventra V6 models are the Ford Territory and Toyota Kluger. In comparison to the Adventra, both the Territory and Kluger have a more refined feel inside the cabin and during a drive. The range-topping LX6’s Commodore-based design lets a fair amount of road noise intrude into the cabin, which can be tiring on a long drive. About town, its heavy steering makes parking a chore – something the Territory and Kluger do not suffer from.
There are also big differences in each vehicle’s interior styling. While the Adventra tries its hardest to create a luxurious feel (and for the most part it carries it off), the Territory in particular is a much more pleasing vehicle to sit in and admire. If you like to look at a conservative yet sophisticated dash, the Adventra, or the Kluger for that matter, is not for you.