A thundering 235kW 5.7-litre V8, wheel arch flares, a jacked-up
ride height and a kerb weight of nearly 2 tonnes. That might not sound like your
average 'soft roader' but that's exactly what the new Holden Adventra represents
- it's an all-road vehicle with a big dose of testosterone.
The CX8 version (on test here) is the entry-level Adventra that
checks in with a retail price of $52,990 plus ORCs. That's not particularly
cheap compared to various other soft-roaders, but rest assured the Adventra is a
whole lotta car - and not just in terms of its engine capacity and exterior
As mentioned in our previous test of the top-line Adventra LX8,
the big Holden employs an intriguing but highly effective CrossTrac constant
all-wheel-drive system. The Adventra ignores a traditional viscous centre
coupling and employs three open-centre diffs - one across the front axle,
another across the rear axle and a third placed between the front and rear axles. In
static conditions, torque is apportioned 38:62 front-to-rear, which maintains
the rear-drive bias that the Commodore platform was intended for. Torque split
varies whenever wheelspin is detected; the spinning wheel is slowed using the
brakes, which redirects torque to the wheels with greater traction.
It's a system that delivers astounding stability and handling
on the bitumen and on dirt tracks.
Unlike a constant AWD system using a viscous coupling, the
Adventra turns in responsively and shrugs off any tendency to power understeer
on bitumen. Chassis balance also shines through on dirt tracks where the
Adventra is virtually unflappable. Irregular corrugations that would send many
other vehicles understeering into the shrubbery are no concern whatsoever.
The rigours of heavy duty use are accommodated by a tower brace
for the front MacPherson struts while the Control Link IRS has been beefed up
and features extra bump travel. Ride height has been increased to provide 200mm
of ground clearance (which is more than most other soft-roaders) and the ability
to handle 20 and 20.5-degree approach and departure angles, respectively. Galvanised
underbody protection is another plus.
But don't get too carried away with the Adventra's off-road
potential - it does have limits.
During a trip along the South Australian coastline we tackled a
lot of sand of various depths. The Adventra copes very well with firm and wet
sand, but get into the deep stuff and the lack of a centre diff lock is
obvious. The Adventra's torque split system starts working overtime in the search for
traction and the road-car style 225/55 Bridgestone Turanza ER30s don't help
In urban duties the Adventra comes together better than you
might imagine. The ride is always comfortable - if a bit 'floaty' over
undulating country roads - and overall noise levels are acceptable. The steering
is firm, although it can become downright heavy during low speed manoeuvres.
There is also steering kickback when the loaded outside front wheel hits a
chopped surface while cornering.
That all-alloy LS1 5.7-litre V8 gives a curious mix of both a lot and a little performance. You must have the standard 4-speed automatic
transmission in Power mode to give a performance feel; economy mode resists
down-changes under acceleration and the LS1 doesn't have the low-down torque to
shift the Adventra's mass with urgency. However, with more than about 3500 rpm
onboard, it's a different matter - the Adventra mauls the rest of the crossover
competition in highway overtaking and full-bore acceleration. No surprise given
a substantial 460Nm of torque at 4000 rpm and a 235kW maximum output accessible
at 5200 rpm. Despite its near 2-tonne mass, the Adventra manages to sprint from
standstill to 100 km/h in the high 7-second range.
A 5.7-litre V8, auto transmission, all-wheel-drive, extra
weight and reduced aero efficiency (compared to a Commodore wagon) are the
ingredients of horrendous average fuel consumption. In urban conditions we saw
up to 24 litres per 100km consumption on the trip computer, but with cruise
control set on the open road the average fell to around 14.0 litres of ULP per
100km. Even at its most frugal, however, the Adventra's 75-litre fuel tank gives
a poor touring range; a fuel stop strategy is essential for long journeys.
Hook a boat or caravan onto the back and, of course, the range
between fuel stops will fall even further. The Adventra comes standard with a
1600kg tow mount but there's the option for a 2100kg rated tow package - enough
to haul a large trailer boat. Braking performance is up to the job with large
ventilated front discs, heavy-duty brake pads and ABS and EBD control.
The Adventra interior is a familiar sight for VY Holden
Commodore wagon owners. There's ample cabin width and plenty of space for up to
five occupants. Cargo space is also generous enough to accommodate weekends
away, while the remote pop-up tailgate glass proves quite handy for access to
bags, towels, etc. Seating front and rear is comfortable and the driving
position is decent. On the downside, the steering wheel is extremely thick-rimmed and the hard plastic spokes are horrible to touch. There's also
considerable vibration through the floor and pedals - this was very apparent
after stepping out of the new Toyota Kluger, which has a more
sophisticated overall feel.
The base-grade Adventra CX8 is equipped with standard power
windows and mirrors, 4-way electric driver's seat with adjustable lumbar
support, trip computer, climate control, cruise control, reversing proximity
beeper and a 6-disc in-dash CD with steering wheel controls. There's also a
leather steering wheel, handbrake and gear knob, map lights, remote locking,
immobiliser and four airbags. The huge rear cargo area features adjustable load
tie-down rails, a 12-volt power outlet, several storage compartments and a cargo
blind, which has an unfortunate tendency of jumping out of its mounting sockets.
A full size alloy spare wheel can be found by lifting up the cargo area
In short, the interior features list is generous for an
Visually, the Adventra CX8 is a very tough looking beast. Six-spoke 17-inch alloys, projector headlights, aero roof rails, standard metallic
paint, aluminium skid plate cladding, a full-width high-level LED brake light, twin
chrome exhaust extensions and wheel arch flares give the CX8 a complete
look. The only obvious omission is front fog lights, which come as standard
(along with other relatively minor cosmetic changes) on the top-line LX8 model.
The build quality of our test vehicle left something to be
desired. There were clunks and rattles from the front suspension, a clunk from
the rear diff during deceleration, the carpet inside the rear storage
compartments weren't properly finished and a small rubber stopper was missing
near the base of the tailgate window - this caused a non-stop window rattle over
corrugated surfaces. The long shadows cast by a setting sun also revealed some
poor panel fitment.
So what do we make of the Adventra CX8?
Well, we imagine plenty of people will be prepared pay the
$52,990 (plus ORC) price of admission. If something like a Nissan Patrol or Toyota Landcruiser is overkill,
we suggest the Adventra is one of the most all-round capable soft-roaders on the
market. Use it as a family truckster Monday to Friday, tow a boat, take the
family beach fishing over Christmas - there's not a lot that the Adventra can't
Just make sure you've always got cash in your wallet to
purchase fuel for that thirsty V8...
Why You Would...
interior space and good 'entry level' equipment
secure handling on bitumen, dirt and sand tracks
Why You Wouldn't...
engine gives a short touring range
build quality in our test car
NVH than other vehicles in its class
intended for serious off-roading where a centre diff lock is essential