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Subtle refinements for Jackaroo

Subtle refinements: A handful of cosmetic upgrades distinguish the updated Jackaroo from its predecessor.

Holden's tried-and-proven Jackaroo scores a series of worthwhile improvements

2 Apr 2001

HOLDEN has treated its venerable Jackaroo off-roader to an upgrade in features and specification to maintain its appeal against newer opposition.

The introduction of the updated Jackaroo also signalled the first product launch since Holden reintegrated its light-commercial and recreational vehicles into its operations.

The Isuzu-sourced light-commercials and RVs were formerly the domain of Isuzu-General Motors (I-GM), which now looks after only heavy trucks.

The updates to the Jackaroo are not earth-shattering, but they do yield tangible benefits.

Externally, the only clues that distinguish the new Jackaroo from its predecessor are flared wheel arches, bodyside protection mouldings, bumper inserts and a bumper-mounted rear licence plate.

The range-topping Monterey also gains chrome-trimmed exterior mirrors.

Under-skin changes include 60mm wider front and rear tracks, stiffer front springs and stabiliser bar and a higher ride height - claimed to improve ride quality.

The wider tracks and associated suspension revisions are claimed to deliver improved ride and handling characteristics, sharper steering response and greater stability.

Holden says ride quality is better than before - especially when the vehicle is loaded - owing to increased rear suspension travel.

The range-topping Monterey is now available with a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine mated to a four-speed electronic automatic transmission.

The turbo-diesel cranks out 118kW of power at 3900rpm and a useful 333Nm of torque at 2000rpm, while the 3.5-litre petrol V6 generates 158kW at 5400rpm and 310Nm at 3000rpm.

Inside, the updated Jackaroo SE gains heated front seats, an electrically-adjustable driver's seat, variable intermittent front and rear wipers, leather-bound steering wheel and driver and passenger spot lamps.

The Monterey scores these features plus leather upholstery, electrically-adjustable passenger seat, leather-trimmed handbrake and gearlever and woodgrain trim on the doors, glovebox and steering wheel.

Pricing starts at $39,960 for the base model Jackaroo, rising to $58,470 for the turbo-diesel Monterey.

Holden chairman and managing director Peter Hanenberger admits the Jackaroo is not as high-tech or fashionable as some of its rivals, but he says "its minimalist approach is attractive".

Drive impressions: A varied drive program at the Jackaroo's launch revealed the vehicle is a solid performer over most surfaces.

It may rely on a rigid rear axle - where some rivals have IRS - but, as Mr Hanenberger pointed out, this does endow the vehicle with an advantage over some terrain.

It is a relatively refined proposition on bitumen - in both petrol and turbo-diesel form. Engine noise is well suppressed in both variants and wind and tyre noise is also well controlled.

Ride quality is beyond reproach and most irregularities and undulations are comfortably dealt with by the suspension.

Performance from the free-revving V6 petrol engine is sprightly and the turbo-diesel also wafts along effortlessly.

An incline and descent over large rocks during the drive program was handled without undue fuss and ground clearance seems adequate for the majority of terrain.

Overall, the Jackaroo is not fashionable - its boxy lines are starting to look a bit old - but it is a rugged, honest four-wheel drive that performs its intended role effectively, albeit without frills or fanfare.

Its competitive pricing also stamps it as a sound proposition among medium-large off-roaders.

Jackaroo and Monterey pricing: V6 petrol models Jackaroo manual $39,960 Jackaroo auto $42,130 Jackaroo SE manual $46,050 Jackaroo SE auto $48,000 Monterey $56,630 Turbo-diesel models Jackaroo manual $44,090 Jackaroo auto $46,240 Jackaroo SE manual $49,480 Jackaroo SE auto $51,620 Monterey $58,740

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