Practicality Plus: Holden's new King-cab ute
2003 VY II Crewman Ute
Crewman SS gets 225kW Gen III V8 engine block
Crewman SS with new Cosmo paint job
Entry-level Crewman is a bargain @ $32,490
While Ford has taken wind out of Holden's sales in the past
six months thanks to booming sales and a razor sharp new BA
Falcon, the General is fighting back with all manner of guns
Firstly, the Lion-crested marque has unveiled its new large
car update in the form of the impressive VY Series II, which
goes on sale in late August.
We'll provide you with in-depth road tests of the new Commodore
SS Series II and Calais Series II before years end, but for
now you can click here
for all the Series II details.
Secondly, the revered Monaro is now in its third iteration
[Series III] and Holden's AWD wagon, the Adventra, will be
arriving later this year, ahead of Ford's equivalent AWD wagon,
As Ford and Holden go head-to-head, trying to outdo each
other with better, shinier product and war-like talk, the
best thing about this increasingly heated battle is that the
customer benefits the most.
Prices come down, models variants, refinement, power and
features go up and, at the end of the day, we're left with
local product that's increasingly impressing overseas markets,
not to mention the domestic arena.
But the big news is that Holden's utility onslaught (that
began with the VU ute in early 2001) isn't showing any signs
of slowing down.
The return of the One Tonner in June of 2003 was sweet news
to all who had fond memories of the last one tonne ute (the
WB), which ceased production in 1985, and now we bear witness
to what could well be a very special moment for the Holden
lads, and indeed the locally-built utility segment.
The official PR spiel is as follows: "Australia's First
Four Door Ute Delivers Passenger and Payload Flexibility,
Car-like Derivability and V8 Muscle."
And, in a pinch, that's Holden's new king-cab ute, officially
called the 'Crewman'.
It's a very long vehicle, looking almost like a stretched
limousine with a tray instead of a boot, but the first thing
that caught our collective eyes was the entry-level price
point: How does $32,490 sound for five seats, cargo-hauling
ability, and sedan-like handling?
Granted, the entry-level Crewman comes with the 3.8-litre
V6 motor [152kW, 305Nm], which is well and truly in need of
updating, but items such as the CD player, dual airbags and
steering-wheel mounted ancillary controls sweeten the deal
Ford had toyed with the idea of a king cab ute, when it showed
off its R5 concept car a few years ago, but it's Holden who's
come to the party first, much to the delight of B&S ball
regulars all over the nation.
And while the new Crewman is sure to appeal to customers
in regional Australia, the new Holden king-cab is expected
to be popular with families too, affording them the flexibility
of hauling cargo with three extra rear seats, which can be
folded away to offer a large amount of secure cabin storage
space that's easily accessible via its rear doors.
The rear bench, while no means as spacious as the rear seats
of the Commodore sedan, comes standard with child restraint
anchorages at three points, head restraints in every seating
position and driver and passenger airbags standard across
The four-door Crewman is Holden's longest vehicle yet, measuring
slightly more than 5.3 metres, which won't do it any favours
in terms of reverse parking. Still, the new utility variant
(like its One Tonner stable mate) gains its strength from
a unique torque arm system that links the chassis to the cabin.
The exceptional torsional rigidity this system provides translates
into increased durability, excellent ride quality and reduced
vibration levels which contribute to sedan-standard cabin
With robust variable four-leaf spring rear suspension, high
load-rated wheels and tyres, heavy duty brake systems, transmissions
and rear axle loadings, the Crewman also shares most of its
load-carrying credentials, as well as the class leading wheelbase
and track dimensions, with the Holden One Tonner.
Holden's soon-to-be-replaced big chief, Peter Hanenberger,
had this to say about the Crewman: "Holden is delivering
a level of manufacturing flexibility, achieved by very few
automotive facilities in the world. This enables us to deliver
a range of niche vehicles aimed at specific markets here and
know from the positive reaction to our all-wheel-drive Cross
8 prototype that the Crewman will succeed. It is a clever
crossover which shows that vehicles like this do not need
to be truck-based and weigh more than two tonnes."
While the new Crewman is adept at carrying plenty of weighty
cargo, it's also got impressive towing credentials, with V6
Crewman models rated to 2100kg and the V8 Crewman auto rated
With the base-model king-cab Holden ute retailing for just
over 32-large, two other models - S and SS - are also offered
at $38,740 and $46,140 respectively.
The S model gets body kit extras and a limited slip diff,
and like the base Crewman is fitted with the V6 mill. The
SS becomes Australia's only V8 crew cab, and though its comes
with the low-tune 225kW 5.7-litre, fuel injected Gen III powerplant
(no doubt to keep prices down), 460Nm of torque is not to
be baulked at.
Like its performance-oriented Holden namesakes, the Crewman
SS has an overtly sporty character, advertised by 17-inch
five spoke alloys (which reduce cargo loading when compared
to 15 & 16-inch rims), sharp front facia accents, twin
front foglamps, sports bar grille, black bezel headlamps and
deep rocker mouldings.
The new four-door, rear-wheel drive Crewman is a quite a
sight: It's an imposing vehicle with unparalleled levels of
practicality and is sure to strike a chord with tradies, families
and even some wagon buyers. Holden hopes to sell about 8000
of the stretched utes per calendar year, but we reckon they'll
do more than that.
The Crewman really is a great idea and will be a big step
up from the unrefined levels of ride and handling of the current
five-seater utes, such as Hilux, Bravo and Triton. And before
you can say "But they've got 4WD," don't discount
this option in the near future folks. The Crewman will be
in Holden dealerships by September 22nd.
There are five exterior finishes to choose from: Heron
White, Redhot, Phantom (black metallic),
Turbine (gunmetal metallic) and Cosmo (deep
purple metallic - available only on Crewman SS).
Crewman $32,490 (automatic only)
Crewman S $38,740 (automatic only)
Crewman SS $46,140 (manual and automatic)