Wagon comparison: Ford Mondeo v Holden Commodore 2018

RoyalAuto magazine

The station wagon still has appeal and a place on our roads. We put the Ford Mondeo and Holden Commodore through their paces.

Report: Liam McPhan
October 2018


Snapshot

Ford Mondeo Trend

Price: $42,840 + $4220 (est.) ORC
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel.
Safety: 8 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist.
Value: ****

Holden Commodore Sportwagon LT

Price: $38,890 + $4550 (est.) ORC.
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel.
Safety: 6 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist.
Value: ***1/2

Falcon or Commodore? This question was asked in many an Australian home for decades, but with more families now buying SUVs, the wagon has slipped from the spotlight.

Ford Mondeo and Holden Commodore 2018 


Yet in most cases, unless you need the high-riding lifestyle of an SUV, a wagon can still provide everything you would want from an SUV, and in some cases, more. Wagons generally offer a comfortable and spacious cabin, roof racks, adequate childseat mounting options, and plenty of accommodation for storage towards the rear – just without the SUV’s ride height and bulk. 

Once developed and built in Australia, the Holden Commodore Sportwagon LT and Ford Mondeo Trend Wagon are now European-sourced, and both prove to be excellent family cars. 

Mondeo feels a touch sharper and a little more grounded.

Each is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that drives the front wheels. Front-wheel drive contributes to a reduced towing capability compared with Commodores and Falcons of the past. The Mondeo’s diesel engine has a slightly higher power output, but the Commodore is about 100 kilograms lighter and has an eight-speed auto (nine-speed in petrol) compared with Mondeo’s six-speed auto.

Holden Commodore 2018

This translates to slightly stronger acceleration in Mondeo, however Commodore tends to use less fuel. For day-to-day use and on the open road, however, they are both equally competent. Similarly, there’s not too much separating them in ride and handling, and they are very smooth, quiet and surefooted around a corner. If there’s any difference, Mondeo feels a touch sharper and a little more grounded.

The diesel engine is offered only in the base-model Commodore Sportwagon LT. A front-wheel-drive 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine is available in the LT and the next level up, the RS. The range-topping RS-V gets all-wheel drive and a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. Prices range from $35,890 to $49,190, before on-road costs.

In the Mondeo wagon, the diesel engine is available in all trim levels – Ambiente, Trend and Titanium – with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine option in the base-model Ambiente. The range is $35,040 to $49,840 plus on-road costs.

‘Once you’ve settled in, both are very comfortable for a long drive.’

Neither car lacks in safety features, both scoring five-star ANCAP safety ratings. Both are fitted with some of the latest safety and driver-assistance features, such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist. Mondeo also has adaptive cruise control, a driver knee airbag, and airbags in the outer seatbelts for rear-seat occupants, which inflate across the chest on impact. Both models have blind-spot monitoring in the higher spec levels, with the Commodore also receiving rear cross-traffic alert.

Each car has taken similar approaches to interior layout, with buttons to control media and dual-zone climate control systems directly below the infotainment screen. Both are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however Commodore’s seven-inch touchscreen in the LT relies on smartphones for maps and navigation.

The Mondeo has an eight-inch touchscreen incorporating the latest SYNC 3 technologies, but we felt the screen would be easier to use if it were angled slightly towards the driver. Both driver and front passenger get eight-way power-adjusted seats in the Mondeo, but the passenger misses out in the Commodore. Partial leather sports seats fitted to the Mondeo offer slightly more side bolstering than the Commodore’s standard cloth seats, but once you’ve settled in, both are very comfortable for a long drive. 

Ford Mondeo 2018

There are many more features loaded into the Mondeo Trend wagon, such as digital radio, light-sensitive mirror, automatic high-beam assistance and privacy glass for the rear and back windows. The interior of the Mondeo also has a slightly nicer feel. But the list price of this mid-spec Mondeo Trend is almost $4000 more than the base model with high-beam assistance and privacy glass for the rear and back windows. Holden closes this gap somewhat when stepping up to the petrol-powered Commodore RS.

For the most part, accommodation in the rear is similar. The biggest difference is that Commodore has two USB points whereas Mondeo has a 12-volt power source and seatback pockets. Realistically you wouldn’t want three adults in the back seat of either. The Mondeo’s second row is a little wider, but taller people will have a bit more clearance in the Commodore with a bit more leg, head and knee space. 

Reflective of their European origins, the exterior styling of both vehicles share fundamental design aspects. Physical dimensions are essentially the same. From mirror to mirror, Mondeo is about a finger width wider than the Commodore because of slightly bigger mirrors, but Commodore is a touch longer. They are both quite long vehicles. In line with trim levels, Mondeo Trend has 18-inch alloy wheels compared with the 17-inch alloys on the Commodore LT.

Both Ford and Holden have recently extended the three-year warranties of Mondeo and Commodore to five years/unlimited kilometres.

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The verdict

For those not interested in the bulk of a high-riding SUV, Ford Mondeo Wagon and Holden Commodore Sportwagon are excellent family cars with good on-road manners and a carrying capacity that rivals some of the bigger SUVs. In performance, presentation and equipment, Mondeo justifies its higher price.

FORD MONDEO TREND

HOLDEN COMMODORE LT

Price

$42,840 + $4220 (est) ORC. Premium paint $500. Model range $35,040-$49,840.

$38,890 + $4550 (est) ORC. Premium paint $550. Model range $35,890-$49,190. 

Specifications

Drivetrain: 1997cc 4cyl turbo-diesel engine. Front-wheel drive. 6spd auto. 132kW@3500rpm, 400Nm@2000-2500rpm.
Fuel: 6.5L/100km (RACV test); 5.3L/100km (govt test). 62L tank. Diesel. 
Wheels: 18” alloy, 235/45 R18 tyres. Space-saver spare wheel. 
Environment: 140g/km CO2.
Towing: 1600kg (braked trailer), 160kg towball load.
Service/repairs: 12-month/15,000km capped-price services.

Drivetrain: 1956cc 4cyl diesel engine. Front-wheel drive. 8spd auto. 125kW@3750rpm, 400Nm@1750-2500rpm.
Fuel: 5.9L/100km (RACV test); 5.7L/100km (govt test). 61L tank. Diesel. 
Wheels: 17” alloy, 225/55 R17 tyres. Space-saver spare wheel. 
Environment: 151g/km CO2.
Towing: 1800kg (braked trailer). 90kg towball load.
Service/repairs: 12-month/12,000km capped-price services. 

Warranty

5yr/unlimited km warranty.

5yr/unlimited km warranty.

Category ratings

Pricing ✩✩✩1/2
Equipment & features ✩✩✩✩
Presentation ✩✩✩✩
Seating comfort ✩✩✩✩
Space ✩✩✩✩
Noise ✩✩✩✩1/2
Performance ✩✩✩✩1/2
Economy ✩✩✩✩
Handling & braking ✩✩✩✩1/2
Crash testing (ANCAP) ✩✩✩✩✩

Pricing ✩✩✩✩
Equipment and features ✩✩✩1/2
Presentation ✩✩✩1/2
Seating comfort ✩✩✩✩
Space ✩✩✩✩1/2
Noise ✩✩✩✩1/2
Performance ✩✩✩✩
Economy ✩✩✩✩1/2
Handling and braking ✩✩✩✩1/2
Crash testing (ANCAP) ✩✩✩✩✩


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