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Car reviews - Holden - Colorado 7 - LTZ

Our Opinion

We like
Long-distance comfort, space in all three seating rows, effective front/rear air-conditioning system, quiet cruising, seamless iPod connectivity, luggage capacity, off-road and towing ability
Room for improvement
Noisy engine at low speed/idle, jiggly ride on uneven roads, audio system not adequate for rear passengers, mushy brake pedal, non-removable third row seats don’t fold flush with floor, quality concerns

Holden logo25 Jan 2013

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

Price and equipment

WE TESTED the $50,490 (plus on-road costs) top-spec LTZ variant , which Holden expects to account for the majority of Colorado 7 sales.

The two-variant range starts out at $46,990, making it significantly less expensive than the cheapest equivalent Toyota Prado (from $55,990 for the five-door diesel) while undercutting the Nissan Pathfinder (from $48,990).

The least expensive four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Challenger variant comes in at $41,490 but while the Colorado 7 is auto-only, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi all come with a manual and charge extra for the self-shifter.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, an eight-speaker audio system Bluetooth connectivity, USB and auxiliary inputs, a multifunction leather steering wheel, climate control with rear air-conditioning control and vents for both rear seating rows, leather upholstery with electric driver seat adjustment.

No satellite navigation system is offered.

Exterior highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, side steps, projector headlights, LED tail-lights, chrome door mirrors, front foglights, aluminium roof rails.

Interior

THE Colorado 7’s predominantly grey cabin is cheap feeling, plasticy and aesthetically marred by too many mis-matched textures.

We were disappointed by the lack of effort (apart from leather seats) to improve cabin ambience and comfort over the Colorado ute, especially the lack of covering or padding on the arm-rests, which makes them uncomfortable and unattractive.

Quality is a concern, too, as a piece of trim in the driver’s footwell came loose, exposing electrical wiring, and the luggage blind failed on its first use because rather than being crimped into the spring-loaded metal rollers, it is cheaply glued on.

On the subject of quality, a piece of rubber seal started emerging from the tailgate handle and the remote central locking system failed twice, requiring us to manually use the key and activate the locking using the button inside the driver’s door, which seemed to solve the issue.

Quality issues aside, there is plenty of space inside and up to 1830 litres of cargo capacity can be had with the second and third row seats folded.

However the third row is not removable and does not fold flush with the floor, robbing space and creating a large lip in the load area and when all seven seats are in use, there is just about enough room for the weekly grocery shop back there – although enough food to feed seven might not fit.

Outboard passengers in the reclining centre row have plenty of space but three adults gets cramped, worsened by the obtrusive transmission tunnel.

Provided those in the second row do not recline their backrest – things can get pretty laid-back if passengers so wish – adults of up to average height can get comfortable in the rearmost row too.

This is mainly due to a generous footwell that doubles as a large hidden storage area with the third row folded.

We managed to cram quite a bit of stuff in there, and could conceal a full-sized laptop in its case.

Keeping occupants hydrated is no issue with eight cup-holders dotted around the cabin and each door bin able to take a 1.5-litre bottle.

Small item storage space is generous too, with plenty of large compartments, pockets and trays.

The standard side-steps and thoughtfully placed grab handles made getting into the high-riding Colorado 7 easy, even for shorter people, and the centre bench’s two-stage fold-and-tumble action meant getting into the third row – aided by another well-placed grab handle – was a cinch.

We did a lot of long journeys in our test vehicle – including a couple of 900km days – and not once did we or our passengers experience seat discomfort, while the effective air-con system and its large, easy-to-use control panel kept us at a comfortable temperature.

The powerful air-con system quickly cools the interior, even on 40-degree days, especially when using the booster fan for the four vents situated above the rear seating rows that is controlled by ceiling-mounted knob reachable from the driver’s seat.

Not so good was the audio system’s apparent inability to provide decent quality sound to rear occupants, no matter how much we fiddled with the fade and balance settings.

Putting the Colorado 7 back in the points was the wide-angle reversing camera integrated with the interior mirror, although the beeper for the parking sensors was annoyingly shrill.

Engine and transmission

SHIFT workers, early birds or night owls who value their neighbours’ friendship should consider that at idle and low speeds, the Colorado’s 2.8-litre diesel engine is loud, almost unforgivably so, especially from cold.

Driving along a narrow street with the windows open, this agricultural sounding lump and its screaming turbocharger is almost deafening, not to mention embarrassing.

Mercifully, settled down to a cruise, the engine sound and vibration almost vanishes and apart from a bit of wind noise, progress is pleasantly quiet.

The simple to operate cruise control also does a good job of holding the selected speed while going down all but significantly steep inclines.

With 132kW on tap at 3800rpm and a hefty 470Nm of torque at 2000rpm our heavily laden Colorado 7 coped well with all ascents we threw at it, and we don’t doubt it could easily tow the maximum three tonnes it is rated for.

That said, the engine takes a while to wake up from standstill due to turbo lag and the brake pedal is mushy, providing little confidence when stopping in a hurry with just one person on-board, let alone fully laden, towing a trailer or both.

The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth enough but with so much torque available, we were surprised at how keen it was to down-shift on hills or for overtaking, which in our view unnecessarily slowed progress and caused unwelcome engine noise.

Official combined fuel consumption is 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres and we averaged 9.9L/100km during our 2500km trip.

The part-time four-wheel-drive system is easy to use via a knob on the centre console, through which high-range 4x4 mode can be selected on the fly, while low-range requires a stop and switch to neutral before it activates.

Our only issue with the system is the lack of a dashboard icon to remind the driver they have selected 4x4 mode – and apart from hill descent control, the Holden has few of the off-road gadgets available on the Prado.

Ride and handling

OWING to its redesigned rear suspension and the fact it does not have to be rated for a tonne in the tray, the Colorado 7’s ride is a step above the truck on which it is based.

Nevertheless, around town the Colorado 7 exhibits the usual shudder over minor bumps common to most one-tonne utes and their wagon derivatives.

At open-road speeds the ride is generally comfortable and composed, although in an extreme example, the terrible state of bitumen around the Hunter Valley in New South Wales caused the ride to deteriorate into an exhausting mess of pitch and wobble.

For a separate-chassis, truck-based 4x4 we thought the Colorado 7 handled pretty well and certainly did not shame itself, even compared with some SUVs that use a more car-like monocoque construction and are less capable off-road.

The chunky 265/60/18 tyres of the LTZ variant we drove provide plenty of grip, the steering is refreshingly meaty and its ratio not too slow (slack steering is usually a bugbear of this type of vehicle).

Unless really in a hurry, body-roll is kept relatively well in check and the few winding mountain passes we negotiated did not result in passengers reaching for the sick bag.

Despite the lack of locking rear differential, the Colorado 7 goes well off-road and can tackle most obstacles people are likely to throw at it without breaking a sweat.

Safety and servicing

ANCAP has awarded the Colorado 7 a five-star crash-test rating and standard safety kit includes rear parking sensors, a reversing camera built into the interior mirror, dual front airbags and full-length curtain airbags that extend to the third row.

Helping keep the car on the road – and helping it perform off-road – are anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, hill descent control, hill-start assist and a limited-slip differential.

Servicing is every 15,000km or nine months and Holden’s capped price servicing scheme covers the first four standard scheduled logbook services for the first three years or 60,000km, for $295 a go.

A 16-inch steel spare wheel is stowed underneath the vehicle.

Verdict

IN TERMS of fitness for purpose, the Colorado 7 gets close to hitting the mark.

Our road-trip required a spacious, go-anywhere vehicle that would not break the bank to fuel and would be comfortable for long journeys.

Apart from a few notable niggles like quality issues, low-speed engine noise and its failure to deal with Hunter Valley roads, our test car delivered on its brief.

Even the plasticy interior and cheapo leather upholstery endeared themselves to us in the end, if only for their easy cleaning, stain-resistant properties that are vital for both camping trips and ferrying children.

But for those not requiring hardcore off-road abilities, there are plenty of SUVs that will not go as far off road but have more luxurious interiors and more equipment – such as sat-nav – than the Colorado 7.

The thing is, those who want go-anywhere ability tend to value quality and reliability, and sadly our test car struggled in this department.

Rivals

Toyota Prado ($55,990-$91,490
, Nissan Pathfinder ($48,990-$76,390)
, Mitsubishi Challenger ($41,490-$55,290)

Specs

Make and model: Holden Colorado 7
, Engine type: 2.8-litre turbo-diesel
, Layout: 4WD
, Power: 132kE @ 3800rpm
, Torque: 470Nm @ 2000rpm
, Transmission: Six-speed auto
, Fuel consumption: 9.4L/100km
, Will it fit in my garage? L4878mm/W1902mm/H1847mm
, Suspension f/r: Struts/multi-link
, Steering: Hydraulic rack and pinion
, Price: From $46,990 plus on-roads

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