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2001 Holden Caprice WH owner review

Jacob Hall
Author
Published
PROS
  • V8 grunt
  • Excellent chassis control and ride
  • Enough room for an Aussie sized family
CONS
  • Sub par fuel economy
  • Outdated four-speed auto box
  • Old infotainment

About the Holden Caprice

Jacob Hall purchased this Holden Caprice used for $45,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2001. Jacob Hall would buy this car again because: “The car’s an excellent luxury barge, effortless power and super well insulated cabin, plenty of room for five full-sized adults and a beautiful balanced driving experience thanks to the LS1 V8’s low end grunt along with excellent suspension tuning and well weighted steering with all the feel in corner that old school hydraulic steering provides “

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

The car’s been in my family since 2001 and it’s never thrown a fit or required anything other than basic maintenance and the usual changes that come along with having a car in the family for 21 years.

The most major issue would’ve been the oil seal replacement that was done in 2020 which required the engine to be taken out, but that’s common for the car’s age. All other issues have been quick fixes and the car to this day is used daily by myself (19, on green Ps).

The 23,000km I’ve enjoyed in it so far have been amazingly fun and the car’s been as dependable as anyone could wish for out of an old-school Holden luxury car. My routine of regular servicing at about $160-200 a service has made the car a joy to maintain at such low costs (aside from fuelling the V8) and very low stress, as I’m confident in its ability to hold up and stay reliable for many years to come.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

The ownership experience has been fantastic, I am able to enjoy a premium luxury automobile powered by a proven power plant in GM’s LS1 V8 which in itself allows for very fun highway pulls if I’m in a cheeky mood.

The old 4L60E transmission is a low point as it’s rather sluggish under hard acceleration, however on the highway it holds gears and allows the boat loads of torque to get you past anyone with minimal effort, barely turning over 1700rom on the highway at about 105km/h.

Locally around small towns and in cities the car’s suspension remains ideal for the cracked asphalt of the town I live in and allows me to go about my day assured that regardless of condition I’m comfortable and content in the cabin, which itself is a very large space for any sized adult, myself being 6’0 and about 78kg have an abundance of space up front to enjoy long-distance driving.

The materials are cheap in some spots, but have held up fantastically and have minimal to no rattles in all spots apart from one unidentified one in the left rear section of the car which at 172,000km isn’t an odd occurrence.

Economy-wise unless your daily commute consists of majority highway speeds the 5.7L lump drinks as one would assume, on average getting about 13.0-14.0L per 100km, however I’ve seen a staggering 9.1L per 100 over the course of a 330km drive. 99 per cent of the time expect to see low to mid teens out of the V8 and about $100-$120 a tank.

The Caprice has always been the premiere luxury car for Australia and 20+ years down the track the WH still holds up thanks to its beautifully developed ride and handling, along with creature comforts such as dual climate, fully electric seats, rear passenger A/C and radio controls along with factory GPS.

The Holden Caprice proves to this day Australia really knew what our country’s roads and people expected out of a premium sedan.

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

Unequivocally so, the luxury and performance I’m treated to on a daily basis in this car are something you just can’t get anymore.

Currently a WH Caprice goes for about $10-25k depending on condition and mileage, but regardless of where you are on that spectrum all Caprices have excellent comforts such as fully electric seats, dual-zone climate, great A/C and heating front and rear, along with factory headphone units for rear passengers… in a car from 2001!

The technology is lacking, as there is no control wheel operated infotainment or touchscreen. Everything is there in physical button form and options for swapping in touchscreens are extremely affordable and easy thanks to extensive aftermarket options.

All key driver information is present in the little digital displays on the gauge cluster and for the money these cars go for it’s hard to find a more well-equipped machine that also provides a V8 soundtrack, reliability and a RWD layout.

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

Performance to this day is more than ample at a de-tuned 225kW and 460Nm out of the LS1. To this day those numbers are still very competitive and the engine is clearly capable of so much more, with minimal upgrades everyone knows these older LS Holdens can achieve excess of 400-600hp with no drama.

In stock form the torque comes in low and the engine never makes a fuss when asked to do some heavy acceleration, an enjoyable V8 roar and before you know it speeds well over what Victorian roads allow are achieved.

2500rpm is all the car ever needs to get to any speed in no time, just make sure she’s warmed up though cause for the first five-10 mins each day on cold start ups it’s a miserable thing, but after that rather uninspiring start up the V8 comes into its own and is a joy to operate at all times.

Economy however is another story, in town expect 13-15L per 100KM which should come as no surprise as us Aussies have never really been excellent at making economical machines and the Caprice is no different.

On the highway over a massive 330km drive I’ve managed 9.1L per 100 out of the thing and that’s about as good as it’ll ever get if you’re daily commute consists of long stretches of uninterrupted travel, however with a mixture of urban and city driving I regularly get about 12.6-14.0L per 100km out of the car which in 2022 isn’t to great but a worthy trade off for the experience of an effortless V8.

What do you think of the technology in your car?

For the time period it’s exceptional. For a car that debuted in 1999 it came with dual-zone climate, fully electric front seats, 10-disk cassette player, rear passenger A/C and radio controls, along with 2 head sets in the rear console for passengers to further immerse themselves in the comfort of a luxury automobile.

However for 2022 the tech – whilst still functional and nice to have – is extremely outdated. Nevertheless, the tech present in the Caprice is all easy to operate, doesn’t distract from driving thanks to all physical buttons, and has stood the test of time.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

The main reason you buy a Holden WH Caprice is for its luxury qualities and the key quality this car has other than its V8, is one of the smoothest rides available for the time.

Even today it stands up thanks to independent rear suspension, smaller 16-inch alloys, and damping that was calibrated on Australian roads for Aussie drivers.

At lower speeds the car absorbs imperfections well, however due to the very light and floaty tuning it can occasionally feel very slightly wobbly over low speed imperfections. Over speeds of 60km/h the car is a joy to ride in and is complimented wonderfully by the balanced handling which on centre seems slightly numb but once any turn is taken it has feel for miles thanks to old school hydraulic assistance.

At lower speed’s the steering is on the lighter side, but compared to todays machinery it seems perfectly assisted. The combination of the excellent suspension and great handling equate to an overall experience that anyone can appreciate.

It feels as though you’re captaining a prime minister in a cocoon of luxury to his next meeting in parliament and in comparison to today’s majority front-wheel drive luxury items it’s a refreshing feeling to be back in a purpose-built RWD luxury limousine made by Australia’s finest at Holden.

Do you have any additional comments about your car?

Price as new was approximately $65-70k and when purchased by my Grandpa in late 2001 with about 10,000km on it.

The car competed with the equivalent Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series of the time for about half as much money and so much more reliability. A true staple of Aussie cars and one we miss dearly

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Ratings
Overall7.1
Show Breakdown
Technology 6
Reliability 9
Ride & Handling 8.5
Price & Features 6
Purchase & Aftercare 5
Performance & Economy 7.1
Ownership Experience 8