What will replace the Holden Commodore in 2017?

Now that we know that Holden is quitting Australian manufacture from 2017, the question is what, if anything, will replace the Commodore.

Holden VF Commodore range
Holden VF Commodore range

As it is, the VF Commodore sits across three markets: large family sedan/wagon, performance sedan/wagon/ute, and tradesman-friendly ute.

Therefore this feature is broken up along those lines. We'll look at what in the GM empire might replace the Commodore as a large family car, as an affordable performance car, and finally as a ute.

Image credit: Holden


Buick LaCrosse
Buick LaCrosse

Sold in North America and China, the LaCrosse is a large semi-luxury sedan. Measuring 5m long, it's a bit more expansive than the VE/VF Commodore.

Image credit: Buick


Buick LaCrosse
Buick LaCrosse

According to a report by Joshua Dowling, under the previous Labor federal government Holden's local manufacturing plans stretched out to around 2022. In that grand deal that involved a dose of federal government assistance and a fair share of internal GM politicking, the Commodore was to be replaced by a large front-wheel drive sedan.

This 2017 car would be designed in Australia, have "four-door coupe" body (similar to say the VW Passat CC or Audi A7), and be made in both Australia and China.

Image credit: Buick


Buick LaCrosse
Buick LaCrosse

In Dowling's report, the 5m-long "four-door coupe" would have been sold in Australia as the Holden Commodore, while in China it would have been branded a Buick. It's possible that in China this Buick four-door coupe would have accompanied the next generation LaCrosse or replaced it entirely.

Image credit: Buick


Buick LaCrosse
Buick LaCrosse

Chances: Uncertain.

The "four-door coupe" Buick could still be alive in the halls of GM's styling and engineering departments, but whether it'll be produced with Holden badges and fully imported from China is up in the air.

If we were to hazard a guess, the optics of an Chinese-built Commodore has probably killed the car from an Australian perspective.

Image credit: Buick


Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Impala

Like the Ford Taurus that it's up against in the US, the Chevrolet Impala is a big car. It's not only 21cm longer than the Commodore, it's actually just a few millimetres shy of the Caprice.

Dimensions

Length: 5,113mm
Width: 1,854mm
Height: 1,496mm< br/> Wheelbase: 2,837mm

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Impala

The current Impala bears the distinction of being the first genuinely good looking car to bear the name for several generations.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Impala

If it ever comes to Australia expect a lot of press about the fact that it's front-wheel drive, not rear-wheel drive like the departing Commodore.

Motivation comes from a 145kW 2.5-litre 4-cylinder or 227kW 3.6-litre V6. There's also a 136kW mild hybrid system featuring a 2.4-litre engine.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Impala

The interior isn't anywhere near the trash GM was churning out in the US in the 1980s and 1990s, but it's not exactly inspiring, is it?

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Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Impala

The biggest aesthetic offenders in the Impala's interior are the steering wheel and the awful faux woodgrain trim.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Impala
Chevrolet Impala

Rear seat room is understandably good for such a large car.

Chances: Slim.

At the moment Impala is only produced in the US in left-hand drive and a replacement model won't be due until 2020 at the earliest.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Opel Insignia
Opel Insignia

During Opel's unsuccessful one year stint in local showrooms, Australians were briefly acquainted with the attractive Insignia.

Image credit: Opel


Opel Insignia
Opel Insignia

The Insignia is available in three body styles: sedan, hatch and wagon. Prizes for anyone who can spot the differences between the sedan and hatch in under a minute.

Image credit: Opel


Opel Insignia
Opel Insignia

Unlike the Caprice-sized Impala, the Insignia measures up pretty much line ball with the Commodore.

Image credit: Opel


Opel Insignia OPC
Opel Insignia OPC

While the majority of the Insignia range is front-wheel drive, the range topping OPC (that stands for Opel Performance Centre, if you're at all curious) is equipped with four-wheel drive and a turbocharged 239kW/435Nm 2.8-litre V6.

Image credit: Opel


Opel Insignia OPC
Opel Insignia OPC

Thanks to its four-wheel drive system, electronic limited-slip diff and 2.8-litre turbo V6 the Insignia OPC can see off the 0-60mph (0-96km/h) sprint in 5.6 seconds.

Image credit: Opel


Opel Insignia
Opel Insignia

On the inside the Insignia is roomy and not too shabby to look at.

Chances: Mayhaps, but disappearing with every passing day.

If Holden decided to bring in a car to sit above the Malibu, the Insignia would, at first glance, seem to be easiest choice as it has already been crash tested and certified for sale in Australia. On top of that there's a pre-made performance model. So, in theory, all Holden would have to do is fit its own badges to it.

The only big issue for the Insignia is timing. The current generation model has just been facelifted, which should see it through to around 2016 or 2017. But that's about the time the Holden Commodore is due to set sail for the great scrapyard in the sky. This means that to realise the aforementioned benefits, Holden would need to bring the Insignia in before the Commodore dies and that's unlikely given the overlap with both the Commodore and the Malibu.

Given that Opel/Vauxhall has been bleeding cash, and that Europeans are gravitating towards either smaller cars or more expensive cars wearing fancier badges, it's not at all certain that Opel will develop a new generation Insignia.

And, yes, we know the current Insignia is sold in the US and China as the Buick Regal, but that car's being squeezed by the Verano (essentially an Astra sedan) below it and LaCrosse above it.

Image credit: Opel


Holden Malibu
Holden Malibu

It's quite conceivable that Holden could look at all the options of replacing the Commodore and think, sod it, it's too much work for too little gain.

Image credit: Holden


Holden Malibu
Holden Malibu

If that's the case, the Holden Malibu that's already on sale in Australia would be the Commodore's de facto replacement.

Image credit: Holden


Holden Malibu
Holden Malibu

Pitched against the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, the Malibu isn't exactly excitement distilled into automotive form.

Image credit: Holden


Holden Malibu
Holden Malibu

Chances: Stronger than the sun in Malibu.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the next Insignia and left-hand drive restriction on the Impala, it's looking rather likely that the Malibu will serve as the Commodore's fleet sedan replacement.

Image credit: Holden


Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro

If Holden decided to follow the Ford path and replace the Commodore's sporting intent with a rear-wheel drive coupe, the Camaro would be the obvious candidate.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro

The current Camaro is based on the VE Commodore and was almost exclusively engineered in Australia.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Camaros come fitted with 3.6-litre V6 and 6.2-litre V8s. At the top pile is the ZL1, which packs a 433kW/754Nm supercharged V8 under the hood.

Under the bonnet bulge (above), the Camaro Z/28 has a 373kW/637Nm 7-litre V8.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro

Chances: Not bad. The current Camaro was launched in 2010, so a new model may be due around 2017 or 2018. That would segue rather nicely with the Commodore's phase out. Assuming, that is, GM decides to engineer the next Camaro for right-hand drive.

If it did come here, would it where Chevy bowties or Holden lions? And if it's the latter, would it come badged as a Holden Camaro or would we see a return of the Monaro?

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette

The Corvette is GM's performance car king and a legitimate competitor for supercars, such as the Porsche 911.

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Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette

Under the hood is a 339kW/624Nm 6.2-litre V8 sending the power to the rear wheels via either a 7-speed manual or 6-speed auto.

Just as importantly it has four (yes, four!) centrally mounted tail pipes.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette

The latest (C7) generation Corvette has sparked a minor uprising on the internet because, wait for it, it ditched four round afterburner-style tail-lights for these trapezoidal units.

Storm the Bastille now!

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette

Unlike any Commodore, the Corvette is available as a drop top.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Chevrolet Corvette
Chevrolet Corvette

Chances: Maybe, maybe not.

If it ever gets produced in right-hand drive, Holden will argue loudly for it. It won't come close to replacing performance Commodores, though. For one, it will probably be priced beyond A$100k. And it will almost certainly be branded as a Chevrolet or, simply, Corvette.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Cadillac ATS
Cadillac ATS

Rear-wheel drive sedan pickings in the GM portfolio are slim. Aside from the waiting-on-death-row Commodore, they all wear Cadillac badges.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Cadillac ATS
Cadillac ATS

The new ATS is GM's new 3-Series fighter; both cars measure just over 4.6m long. Priced in the same ballpark in the US, it's likely that any Australia bound ATS would carry a sticker of around A$60k.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Cadillac ATS
Cadillac ATS

Seeing as it measures some 20cm shorter than the VF Commodore, it's no surprise to learn that the ATS is a little more cramped in the rear than the Commodore.

Space aside, though, it's not a bad place to be.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Cadillac ATS
Cadillac ATS

Clad in leather and made from high quality plastic, the ATS' interior is pretty good.

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Cadillac ATS
Cadillac ATS

Unfortunately the centre stack features capacitive buttons, which are great on smartphones, but less than ideal in a car as they are almost impossible to operate without looking away from the road.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Cadillac ATS
Cadillac ATS

Chances: Almost nil.

If the ATS were to ever make it here, it would be here as a Cadillac, not a Holden. There were plans to launch Cadillac in Australia before the 2009 global financial crisis, but those ideas are well and truly dead.

Image credit: Derek Fung


Holden Colorado
Holden Colorado

No where else in the GM universe is there a ute based on a large rear-wheel drive sedan. So, for shoppers wanting a large ute with seating enough for a family and a Holden badge, the future is already here and it's called the Colorado.

Image credit: Holden


Holden Colorado
Holden Colorado

Unlike the current VF Commodore Ute, the Colorado is available with four-wheel drive, so you can take it to many places in LandCruiser country.

Image credit: Holden


Holden Colorado
Holden Colorado

It's hardy and sturdy, but the Colorado's interior falls rather short of the VF Commodore's.

Chances: It's already here. Get used to it.

Image credit: Holden


Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]