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Car reviews - Holden - Colorado - LT Crew Cab Pick Up 4x4

Our Opinion

We like
New styling, ride and handling, connectivity, payload and towing capacities, peak outputs
Room for improvement
Torque spread, steering and front seat adjustment, rear diff lock, more ground clearance, brakes

Holden logo16 Aug 2017

By STUART MARTIN

Overview

IT STARTED behind the eight-ball in an evermore-competitive segment, but Holden has overcome the early Colorado’s underdone nature with this latest incarnation.

Sporting the new (more handsome) GM design language across its snout, the Colorado’s tweaked transmission and suspension will do much to augment the pricetag attraction that was the superseded model’s main source of appeal.

Price and equipment

The Colorado LT sits one peg up from the entry-level LS – the dual-cab 4x4 LT is priced from $46,990 in manual guise, with the six-speed auto as tested here adding $2200 to that asking price.

It sneaks in under the $50K mark (at least until you put it on the road with insurance), and that keeps it below some key dual-cab opposition.

Ford’s Ranger in XL auto form, Toyota’s SR HiLux and the Isuzu D-Max LS-M all hover just below $50,000, but the top-spec Triton Exceed (even though its down on payload, towing and powerplant punch) puts them all in perspective at $48,000, from a value perspective.

The Holden’s features list has the benefit of the larger 7.0-inch touchscreen with which to control the full smartphone integration, as well as digital radio reception (which is only of use in metropolitan areas and nearby surrounds) within the six-speaker infotainment system.

The smartphone’s sat-nav is the only way to get directions in the LT, as it doesn’t get the integrated map system present on the LTZ and above.

Also on the LT’s features list is a leather-wrapped steering wheel (still only adjustable for tilt and not reach) with sound system, cruise and phone controls, cloth trim, carpet flooring, side steps, power-adjustable exterior mirrors (but without heating), a comprehensive trip computer with digital speed display and it sits on 17-inch alloy wheels with a full-size alloy spare.

There’s only manual air-conditioning, with the tiniest of rear ducts on the base of the centre console, which appear hardly enough for Australian summers.

Interior

Much of the interior is unchanged but it’s the front of the cabin that has undergone a similar amount of change to the exterior design upfront.

The LT dual-cab’s centre stack and dash is a more user-friendly fascia, with simple and effective switchgear within the cleaner layout, as well as the MyLink touchscreen system that allows for smartphone use through the car’s systems – handy for staying in the law’s good books while driving.

In-cabin storage is useful without being cavernous, but there are some nice touches – lined door pockets (which keep rattling noises down) among them – with some dash top storage and a reasonable glovebox.

Two 12-volt outlets and a USB port are contained within the small centre console to take care of charging needs up front, but something that GM (and others) could consider more readily is a 12-volt outlet for dashcams, in the roof console or dash top storage area.

The cloth-trimmed cabin has enough room for four adults, but is not what you’d call extremely spacious, with some under-seat storage beneath the split flip-up rear bench.

Rear passengers also get a 12-volt outlet, but the centre console is not fitted with any vents.

Isofix points are on outboard rear seats, with three anchor points behind the backrest, but access is via a two-strap pull mechanism at either end of the backrest.

To tilt the backrest forward for access to the anchor points requires pulling both straps, which means one long-armed operator astride the transmission tunnel or one person at each rear door.

The driver has clear instrumentation and an informative centre display for fuel use and speed among myriad displays, but still only gets tilt adjustable steering.

There is driver’s seat height adjustment, but the seat itself could do with more directions of tilt and travel, as well as reach adjustment for the steering, to get a better position behind the wheel.

Engine and transmission

There’s been little change on the outputs from the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel direct-injection common rail four-cylinder engine that Holden opted for when its former bedfellow Isuzu stuck with the old-faithful 3.0-litre.

The Holden engine has had some work done to quieten it down and that has not been without results, although it’s still a little uncouth under load.

Power remains the same at 147kW at 3600rpm, and when bolted to the six-speed automatic the torque peaks at 500Nm, but unlike the broad spread of the opposition, the rev range for that is narrow – 2000 to 2200rpm. The manual version gets 60 fewer Newton metres but across a wider range of 1600 to 2800rpm.

The six-speed auto has been updated to improve its smoothness and the working relationship with the engine, and the efforts have born some fruit for the engineering team – the drivetrain works well to make the most of the power outputs, but it can’t completely mask the narrow rev band when peak torque is on offer.

The automatic also employs what Holden calls gradient control braking (it tells you on the centre display, although you’re unlikely not to notice it holding a gear), which works well under load when descending hills to pick and hold a more helpful gear, something that assists the underdone brakes when heavily laden.

The combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 8.7 litres per 100km, although the LT was drinking at a rate 10.0L/100km from the 76-litre tank, which is closer to the more realistic official urban figure of 10.7L/100km.

The ute was lugging loads in the tray and performing the wide range of daily tasks now expected of this class of vehicle – everything from the school run to a rutted fire trail was completed.

Ride and handling

The road manners of the LT were put to the test over second-rate metropolitan bitumen as well as country road running (sealed and unsealed) and the efforts of the chassis engineering team have produced solid results.

Despite weighing a hefty 2102kg and measuring more than 5m long, the Colorado doesn’t steer like a heavy barge – suspension tuning tweaks to the double-wishbone front and leaf-rear suspension have given the Colorado solid stance on the road.

Around the suburbs it’s an easy machine to direct, with well-weighted steering and a suspension tune that is firm without being anywhere near intolerable – it’s one of the best in the segment and given its braked towing capacity of 3500kg and 1048kg payload it’s commendable.

A moderate load in the 1484x1534mm tray (which has four tie-down points) tames the rear end ride valiantly, but even a decent load approaching the payload limit didn’t see the leaf rear-end wave the white flag and drag its tail.

Winding country roads are well within the Colorado’s charter, with decent turn-in (this is a ute, remember) but it isn’t fazed by a brisk pace – less so when lightly laden than when empty – but only large mid-corner bumps cause any malicious direction change.

Only the brakes warranted any concern when coping with a full tray – the auto’s down-change system helps but larger four-wheel discs would be welcome.

Getting off the bitumen presents no concern to the Colorado either, with fast dirt roads traversed without fear of swapping ends on every bend, due for the most part to the suspension and steering rather than relying on the electronics to reign in any extra attitude.

A ground clearance figure of 215mm is not the best, nor is it the worst, in the segment and the same can be said for the approach, departure and ramp-over angles – 28, 22 and 22 degrees respectively.

There’s also adequate underbody protection and a limited slip rear differential but sadly no rear diff lock Holden claims a wading depth of 600mm.

Safety and servicing

The Thai-built Colorado rates five ANCAP stars and has seven airbags – front, front-side and curtain airbags as well as a driver’s knee airbag, the latter something of a rarity in this market segment.

The electronic assistants include stability, traction and trailer sway control systems, hill start assist and descent control, automatic halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights and front foglights, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors but sadly no rain-sensing wipers.

There are also seatbelt reminders for all five occupants, as well as two Isofix child seat anchor points and three integrated tether points in the rear seats, critical to the variety of tasks these vehicles are now expected to perform.

Anti-lock brakes are also on the list but like many (but not all), Holden has continued with rear drums and discs up front.

It’s a system which works well enough until heavily laden, when the stoppers feel as though they could be a little stronger, particularly given the weight-bearing claims of the range.

Holden’s warranty cover is three years or 100,000km, with scheduled servicing required every 15,000 km or nine months.

Should the venue for that servicing be a Holden dealership there is renewed roadside assistance for up to three years.

Capped-price servicing for the Colorado at the time of writing ranges from $349 to $409 for most services, with the prices rising to over $1000 for some major maintenance milestones, up to $1880 for a 180mth/300,000 km service or $2987 for a 270mth/450,000km service.

Verdict

The Colorado is much-improved from the model it replaces, but it needed to be.

It’s now in the serious consideration set for the segment based on more than just its pricetag and while it’s not the best in the marketplace, it is nowhere near the worst either.

The aesthetics inside and out are much-improved, as is the drive experience, with the exterior an important factor if the sales of the Ford Ranger and its mechanical twin the Mazda BT-50 are anything to go by.

The Holden makes the test drive list now on more than just price, but it’s shaping up to be a tough fight against the HiLux and Ranger.

Rivals

Isuzu D-Max LS-M dual-cab from $46,400 (+$2100 for auto) plus on-road costs
The blue-collar second-cousin of the Colorado has retained the old-school 130kW 3.0-litre four-cylinder (although it has been pumped up to 430Nm and cleaned up somewhat) with new life instilled by a six-speed auto. It claims a 949kg payload remains a relaxed drivetrain and imbues the Isuzu with a no-fuss demeanour and understated capability, offset by a cabin that betrays workhorse origins and a pricetag that’s not exactly bargain-basement.

Toyota HiLux SR dual-cab from $46,490 (+$2000 for auto) plus on-road costs
Once the undisputed dictator of the segment, the HiLux was banished from dominant market leadership by Ford and some cohorts returning with upgraded features list and a new 130kW/420Nm (450Nm when teamed to the six-speed auto) powerplant, Toyota did enough to get the HiLux back in contention. Competitive outputs, a decent features list and strong reputation keep it in the hunt. The manual is rated for a 3500 kg braked towing capacity – buying the auto drops that to 3200kg – and both get a 925 kg payload.

Ford Ranger XL dual-cab from $47,590 (+$2200 for auto) plus on-road costs
The locally-developed Ranger caused an earthquake in the segment when it arrived, outgunning the reigning monarch from Toyota on outputs from the 3.2-litre five-cylinder (147kW and 470Nm) and carrying capacities (its payload is 1140kg), as well as road manners and features, but asked for plenty of coin in return. The pricing policy hasn’t changed and the market has seen its competition catch up and erode the Ranger with better value propositions and comparable capabilities.

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