The Holden Rodeo range has had a freshen up in terms of a new petrol engine. The model year 06 Rodeo has been upgraded with the new Holden Alloytec engine. Designed and built at Holden's Global V6 engine plant in Melbourne, it's the same engine that powers the latest Commodore V6 range here in Aust and numerous GM and non GM brands worldwide.
For the Rodeo the characteristics of the Alloytec engine have been changed - the engines torque curve has been 'flattened' to improve the engines performance from a lower rev range. Power output is down from the Commodores 172kW output to 157kW and the peak torque figure is also down slightly, however, when compared to the outgoing models 3.2-litre engine, there's a 10kW power increase and torque is up by 33Nm.
Value for money
The Rodeo Crew cab tested is priced at $41,990, auto versions are an additional $2,000. Its main opposition, the Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota Hi Lux and Nissan Navara, and Mazda Bravo have models priced competitively. Toyota's latest SR5 4X4 dual cab is $47,240 but has air conditioning as standard, the Bravo SDX, Navara ST-X are $41,840 and $43,990 respectively.
The LT Rodeo is equipped with Dual front airbags Anti lock brakes [ABS], Power windows and mirrors, power steering, Sixteen inch alloy wheels, a six disc CD player, remote central locking with engine immobiliser, fog lights and a limited slip differential. Option are metallic paint ($300) and air conditioning ($2,000).
Design and function
Space and practicality
Space wise the Crew cab provides adequate space for all passengers. The centre console has two cup holders and a storage binnacle, the door pockets though are somewhat shallow. There are no cup holders for rear seat passengers. In the rear tray there are four sturdy hooks to secure a load.
Seats in the Rodeo, most noticeably for driver and front passenger, are quite soft and don't offer a lot of support. Side support is lacking so when cornering you tend to move around. Added to that, on longer trips you slipped forward on the seat base, so you ended up adjusting your position constantly. On a couple of occasions I sat on the hard edge of the seat adjuster, so make sure you aim for the centre of the seat when entering. The rear seating position is a little more upright and the seating firmer, adults would find it ok for shorter trips.
The high seating position typical of most off-roaders is also obvious with the Rodeo, it gives the driver a clear view of all points of the vehicle. Push button switches to operate the low/high range functions were simple to use. Ahead of the driver there's a largish steering wheel and a simple instrument display that is bright and easy to read. It's a shame that there are no audio controls on the wheel which are seen on a lot of other Holden vehicles. Good sized external mirrors that include side indicators provide excellent rearward vision.
Dual airbags and ABS brakes are standard on the Rodeo LT. Its been evaluated for the ANCAP safety ratings and it receives a 3-star rating, 1 star behind the new Toyota Hilux and ahead of Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara, both older designs without airbags. There are three lap-sash seat belts across the rear and the outside two are adjustable for height.
Build quality and finish
The seat material had stretched on the drivers seat of the test vehicle had bubbled slightly which may worsen over time. The test vehicle was trimmed in a light colour velour and the carpets were similar in tone. They may show up dirt and marks over time although on test the Rodeo remained mark free. The Black paintwork looks great when clean but perhaps not the smartest choice if you're going to go off road regularly. Build quality was otherwise acceptable for this style of vehicle. No dirt or dust had entered the cabin through any door seals on the dirt sections of road used during testing.
Remote keyless entry and an engine immobiliser are standard for LT Rodeo.
On the road
On test the Rodeo recorded a figure of 13.1 litres per 100kms. Around town and out on the highway the rodeo returned a figure of 11 litres per 100kms.
The Holden Alloytec engine fitted to the Rodeo develops 157kW at 5,300 rpm and 313Nm of torque at 2,800 rpm. It's the same all alloy DOHC 24 valve design that is found in the Holden Commodore, with the power and torque characteristics changed to suit the Rodeo. Initially I was a little disappointed, the new engine felt a little lifeless and flat, the additional torque over the older models 3.2 litre engine wasn't that apparent.
The ride quality of the Rodeo is quite soft and it felt pitchy on undulating sections of road without a load in the rear. Loaded up slightly, this sensation would improve. Off road the soft ride was welcome as the suspension soaked up all the ruts and washouts encountered without transferring any of the rough terrain into the passenger compartment.
Handling and steering
There is a fair bit of body with the Rodeo and it reinforces the feeling that you're driving a fairly heavy vehicle. There is plenty of grip from the tyres but, at anything over moderate speeds, you need to be mindful of the Rodeos commercial design origins. The variable assist rack and pinion steering was light enough at parking speeds. Off road, on reasonable quality firetrails the Rodeo felt right at home.
Braking duties are carried out by 280mm ventilated front discs and 254mm diameter rear drums. ABS braking is standard on the top specced LT tested, and a $1,000 dollar option on the lower specced LX version. During brake testing the brakes faded quickly after a couple of high speed stops and there was a lot of smoke from the front discs.
Smoothness and quietness
Replacing the engine in an existing design vehicle can often lead to problems however the new Rodeo showed no such issues, the engineers in Australia have done a good job adapting the Alloytec engine to the Rodeo. The engine was smooth, cabin noise quiet, and well insulated from road noise. One criticism though; the engine held its engine revs between gearchanges, most noticeably when starting off from a cold start.
The Rodeo V6 has received a heart transplant in terms of a new engine, to replace the the older 3.2 litre unit, and along with improvements to the ride and handling package, the Rodeo gives a good account of itself in most conditions.