Car reviews - Holden - Colorado - LS dual-cab pick-up
Impressive payload and towing capacity combined with pleasant driving experience, cabin comfort and interior space
Room for improvement
No reach-adjustable steering, poor cabin storage, tyre noise
In base LS trim, Holden’s Colorado still packs driver appeal and sufficient comfort
11 Mar 2019
FAR and away Holden’s best-selling model in Australia, the Colorado ute managed to hold onto fourth place in the segment sales charts in 2018 despite a substantial 15.6 per cent dip in deliveries compared with the previous year.
This was against the backdrop of a segment that was up 4.7 per cent for the year, capping off a disastrous 2018 for Holden, with buyer abandonment of the brand resulting in a 32.7 per cent sales decline overall.
A slump like this will no doubt lead to some belt-tightening at Holden, but the good news for fellow belt-tighteners is that the most affordable way into a brand-new Colorado dual-cab – the base LS trim tested here – is unlikely to leave you feeling short-changed. We really liked it.
It sounds cruel, but if you’re in the market for a Colorado, haggle hard as you’re likely to do well out of the current level of dealer desperation. Make an offer and they’ll likely bite your arm off.
Price and equipment
The Colorado LS dual-cab pick-up with automatic transmission tested here has a list price of $47,190 plus on-road costs. Given you can regularly get higher-spec variants for less coin driveaway, this figure is clearly nonsense and merely a suggestion.
Standard gear includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity plus DAB+ digital radio, voice recognition and a reversing camera, manual single-zone air-conditioning with rear vents, rear parking sensors, auto headlights, power windows with remote key-fob operation, cruise control and 16-inch steel wheels.
Seven airbags, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, trailer sway control and LED daytime running lights are standard across the Colorado range, contributing to a five-star ANCAP crash test rating for all variants.
Holden dealerships also offer heaps of factory-approved accessories including airbag-compatible bull bars and nudge bars, LED and HID driving lights, integrated LED park and turn signals, underbody protection, off-road gear such as a snorkel, fender flares, all-terrain tyres, polished stainless or black sports bars, a rear step bar, soft and hard tonneau covers, tray bodies, canopies, tub liners, tray mats and a towing pack that includes the required electrics.
Apart from the hose-out rubber flooring appreciated by off-roaders, builders, farmers and parents of young children, the Colorado LS cabin looks and feels like anything but that of a base variant.
Just like the more expensive versions, there is a soft-touch swathe of double-contrast-stitched imitation leather across the dashboard and the surrounding hard plastics are pleasantly textured. The two-tone, contrast-stitched seat fabric is pleasant to behold and tough-feeling without being unpleasantly coarse to touch. A leather-trimmed steering wheel also helps elevate cabin feel beyond entry-level.
Even the front-centre armrest is upholstered and squishily padded for comfort, but the door caps are hard plastic.
Metallic-effect highlights on the centre console, vent surrounds, transmission lever, steering wheel and door trims match the light grey-and-charcoal contrast of the upholstery, serving to break up the large areas of black, as does chrome on the interior door handles, various control knobs and air-vent adjusters.
Simple rotary controls make for easy audio and air-conditioning adjustment and button-count is respectably low without relying too heavily on the touchscreen to the detriment of usability. Switchgear is generally chunky, although tactility and consistency of feel is not a Colorado strong suit; case in point being the mushy steering wheel buttons and rocker switches.
As ever, Holden’s MyLink touchscreen software was easy to use on the move, with DAB+ digital radio a nice feature at this price point along with the rare-for-segment inclusion of smartphone mirroring via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The inclusion of rear parking sensors – available only as dealer-fit option on top-spec variants of some rivals – also aids usability and value-for-money.
People who work their Colorado hard will appreciate the level of technical information available from the multi-function trip computer that includes automatic transmission fluid temperature and curiously, the number of hours the engine has been on for and how many of these were at idle.
Storage isn’t great, especially since Holden ditched the upper glove box, dash-top compartment and additional slide-out cup-holders when it overhauled the Colorado interior.
Without them, the Colorado cabin is pretty lacking on the storage front, with a reasonably sized glovebox and centre console compartment with poor cup-holder design and location that makes it difficult to carry two drinks at once. The fold-down central armrest for rear passengers also lacks cup-holding ability.
Door bins are suitable for gripping drinks bottles front and rear, with a little additional carrying capacity besides, though there are no map pockets and a couple of slots in the centre stack that appear to be for holding phones aren’t very good at doing so. Then again, the sole USB socket is in the bin beneath the central armrest, with three other power outlets being of the old-school cigarette-lighter variety.
Holden hasn’t really publicised running changes it has made to the Colorado since the facelift launched in 2016, but we’re sure from comparing our notes against an earlier example that seat comfort and driving position have improved. Also providing comfort was a powerful air-con that dealt impeccably with the heatwave conditions of our test.
The Colorado remains one of the most spacious dual-cab utes, with plenty of legroom at the back and only the usual ute bugbear of the rear backrest being too upright to grumble about. Parents of young children will appreciate the relative ease of installing their special cocoon-like seats owing to the presence of Isofix in outboard positions, top tether points behind the backrest and requisite room for space-hogging rear-facing seats.
On the move, we found the Colorado rarely felt too big or unwieldy, despite its broad 12.7-metre turning circle. It shrinks around the driver more successfully than a Ford Ranger or Volkswagen Amarok, for example.
The Colorado isn’t top of the class when it comes to refinement and isolation, but engine noise and vibration is acceptable for a commercial vehicle in that it’s fairly raucous under low-speed accelerating but pretty quiet once up to speed. Cold-start rumble and clatter make it easy to remember it is diesel being burnt under the bonnet. Overall, it’s about on-par with most rivals bar the silky-smooth Amarok.
Wind noise is remarkably absent for a ute, but we noticed tyre noise of the type expected from off-road rubber with an aggressive tread pattern despite the Bridgestone Duelers fitted being of the highway terrain variety.
Engine and transmission
All Colorados are propelled by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produces 147kW of power at 3600rpm and 500Nm of torque from 2000-2200rpm when paired with the six-speed automatic transmission (torque output is 440Nm from 1600-2800rpm with the six-speed manual).
Despite that impressive peak torque figure appearing for just 200rpm of the engine’s rev range, the Colorado feels assertively grunty, with the quick, slick and intelligent six-speed auto of our test vehicle being consistently impressive in its smoothness and calibration yet also characterful courtesy of throttle-blip down-changes.
At a cruise, the Colorado lopes along with a relaxed gait and chugs confidently up hills while providing easy access to more revs when required for overtaking or motorway on-ramps.
For additional control on twisty roads or off-roading, there is a manual gate that takes a little while to respond and is therefore more suited to the latter. On that note, we found the rotary controller in the centre console of our test vehicle was unobstructive in the selection of low-range and that on-the-fly changes between rear- and four-wheel-drive were pretty quick and seamless.
Compared with the utterly predictable and intuitive drivetrain behaviour of the related Isuzu D-Max when off-roading, our Colorado felt a bit touchier and less progressive in response to throttle inputs. But we’re sure owners would quickly become accustomed.
With official combined fuel consumption rated at 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres, we were impressed to average 9.0L/100km during our week of mixed driving in the Colorado.
Ride and handling
From a ride comfort standpoint, it is at times easy to forget the Colorado is a body-on-frame commercial vehicle. Even unladen, only laterally uneven surfaces reveal any tell-tale chassis shudder and there is an impressive suppleness that belies the fact that every variant in the range has a payload exceeding one tonne.
We’d go as far as to say the Holden is up there with VW’s benchmark-setting Amarok in this regard, but counting against the Argentinian-made German ute is the fact a comfort-compromising heavy-duty suspension option is required to unlock its full payload potential.
Compared with higher-spec models with their big alloy wheels, we felt the Colorado LS wasn’t quite as grippy during fast-road driving on its 16-inch steelies. The Amarok and Ford Ranger just about have it licked dynamically, but the Holden is otherwise an admirably nimble beast with intuitive, positive-feeling and confidence inspiring steering plus decent roll control, especially considering that payload.
Where the Colorado really comes into its own is its ease of use round-town, which is where many examples will spend their working lives. As mentioned earlier it shrinks around the driver, visibility is good – helped by the standard reversing sensors and camera – and feels more manoeuvrable than its big turning circle would suggest.
We wouldn’t fling it at a twisty road in the way we would an Amarok and there isn’t quite the level of slick fluency enjoyed by Ranger drivers, but the Colorado’s advantage over those two is how nimble and manoeuvrable it feels around town. And let’s face it, much of its time, particularly in the up-spec guises, will be spent in the urban environment.
Also impressive is how balanced and settled the Colorado feels when there is nothing in the tray. Our small-wheeled example also felt a lot less sketchy on fast unsealed roads than higher-spec variants we have driven, maintaining a better balance of prowess on bitumen and confidence on loose surfaces.
Further off the beaten path, the Colorado still puts in a respectable performance with its ample ground clearance and sufficient axle articulation to negotiate deeply rutted tracks and wash-outs with little drama.
The lack of locking rear differential availability might deter regular off-roaders, offering only a halfway house measure compared with rivals that provide a button-activated locker, although at least the LSD is aiding traction whether the Colorado is in rear-drive, high-range or low-range, whereas most factory lockers work only in low-range. That said, locking diffs are often reserved for higher-spec variants that do not compete with the Colorado LS tested here.
Safety and servicing
Every Colorado variant carries a full five-star safety rating from ANCAP, having performed well in the side-impact and pole tests while picking up points for seatbelt reminders and 13.89 out of 16 in the frontal offset test to result in an overall score of 34.89 out of a maximum 37.
A rating of ‘good’ in whiplash protection and a high airbag count also got a nod of approval from ANCAP testers. Unusually for a ute, the Colorado also scored high marks for pedestrian protection.
Colorados are all fitted with seven airbags, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, trailer sway control and LED daytime running lights as standard.
Holden supplies a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty that also covers any genuine accessories fitted, along with the same duration of roadside assistance.
Colorado service intervals 12 months and 12,000km. Under Holden’s lifetime capped-price servicing scheme, the first maintenance visit costs $299, followed by $499 for the second, $399 for the third, $499 for the fourth, $439 for the fifth, $599 for the sixth and $299 for the seventh (prices correct at time of writing).
When we first drove the heavily updated Colorado that launched in 2016, the primarily Australian-led changes helped elevate the big Holden from our avoid list to genuinely giving the acclaimed Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok a run for their money.
Despite a number of new and updated players arriving on the scene in the intervening years, sampling the base Colorado LS gave us little reason to change our mind about the one-tonner pecking order. It’s as though Holden has managed to combine many of the plus points of several rivals into one product.
We’d find it hard to attribute the Colorado’s recent sales slide to anything other than the tumbleweeds occupying Holden showrooms during the past 12 months. The product itself remains a good one, and you’re likely to be bowled over by the interior ambience and level of standard equipment compared with pretty much every rival.
So why not give a lonely Holden salesperson some much-needed company and take a look for yourself? If, as we did, like what you see then you’re likely to walk away with a substantial discount on an already sharply priced ute.
Ford Ranger XL Double Cab automatic (from $50,090 plus on-road costs)
Ford keeps making the arguably class-leading Ranger better and better. And charges handsomely for it. Apart from the price, its on-road sense of bigness could be a deal-breaker for some.
Volkswagen Amarok TDI 420 Core Dual Cab automatic (from $45,490 plus on-road costs)
Lags behind on towing capacity, airbag count and active safety aids yet remains competitive because it still manages to reset expectations in terms of how well a ute can drive on-road while also being supremely capable off-road.
Toyota HiLux SR Double Cab automatic (from $48,560 plus on-road costs)
The biggest drawcard for the HiLux these days – in our humble opinion – is access to a massive accessories aftermarket and widespread dealer network, because Toyota’s supposedly unbreakable tough truck now suffers some reputational issues on top of its dynamic deficiencies, uninspiring engine and questionable value-for-money.
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Model release date: 1 August 2016
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