Car reviews - Holden - Colorado - range
Ride quality of Colorado ute, new six-speed manual gearbox, off-road ability of Colorado 7, cabin quality and space in top-spec Colorado ute, MyLink connectivity standard across range (except DX)
Room for improvement
Cheap cabin materials in Colorado 7, noisy diesel when matched with six-speed auto, under-assisted brakes
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22 Oct 2013
IF there is a sense of deja vu about Holden’s Colorado launch, it’s because the all-new model only arrived in local showrooms in June last year, followed by its seven-seat Colorado 7 SUV twin in December.
Holden has wasted no time in updating the Colorado range to ensure it competes with the aging but still incredibly popular Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara by boosting power and torque, improving safety and adding more tech features for both the ute and SUV for 2014.
A protracted launch due to the devastating floods in Thailand where the Colorado is built saw it arrive later than expected in June last year, giving Ford’s Ranger ute – which launched nine months earlier in September 2011 -- a lengthy head start.
The mechanically identical Colorado 7 SUV landed a few months later in December last year.
GM’s local arm has included its MyLink infotainment system as standard on all variants in both ranges, except the base DX ute. Added safety features include front side impact airbags as standard on all variants bar the DX, while rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are available as options on some models and as standard kit on Colorado 7 and Colorado LTZ utes.
Holden has wisely kept price increases to a minimum, with all automatic ute variants now $200 dearer than the outgoing model while the Colorado 7 maintains its launch pricing.
Presumably to highlight the Colorado's hardcore off-road abilities, the media launch involved some rather serious 4x4 tracks in the hills of Tallarook, about 100 kilometres north of Melbourne.
To get there, we drove a tradie-friendly 4x4 Colorado LX single cab that retails for $35,990 plus on-road costs. The LX is the next step up from the base (and basic) DX that kicks off the 4x4 range, replacing the former range-starting 2.5-litre DX 4x2 that Holden has discontinued.
The LX features a new six-speed manual gearbox that replaces the old-school (and not in a cool way) five-speed box that was available from launch last year.
The inclusion of MyLink and with it Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, as well as the availability of smartphone-based apps such as Pandora and the satellite navigation tool, BringGo, will no doubt appease busy tradies and small business operators who use travel time to work.
At this specification level and price the cabin is pretty basic, but it is functional and despite the abundance of grey plastic, is not unpleasant. It is even relatively quiet for a dedicated workhorse.
Unsurprisingly, there are a number of nifty storage compartments throughout the cabin. While the seats in the LX do not provide great levels of support, they are relatively comfortable. A leather-wrapped steering wheel caps off the cabin.
Standard gear at this level aside from MyLink includes keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control switches, cloth trim, air conditioning, power windows and a USB auxiliary.
As for its driveability, the LX is fairly composed and is a reasonably enjoyable vehicle to drive for a weighty 4x4 ute. The steering feels heavy at low speed, but is direct and accurate and feels more resolved as speeds rise.
The new six-speed manual gearbox is a solid example of a typical light-commercial vehicle fare, with a long throw and changes that feel somewhat rougher than a passenger vehicle.
Holden has boosted power in the 2.8-litre four-cylinder Duramax turbo-diesel engine from 130kW to 147kW. While torque remains at 440Nm in manual guise, it is now spread from 1600rpm to 2800rpm.
Accelerating won't take your breath away, but that's not really the point of the Colorado. The wider torque range helps it feel gutsier when you are off and running, with Holden making the claim that it is now better suited to the Colorado’s 3.5-tonne towing capacity.
The ute feels comfortable cruising on freeways and getting across town, but we do think the brakes felt a touch under-assisted and needed a lot of force from the driver to slow or stop. There was some noticeable body-roll in the LX single cab, but decent levels of grip from the 16-inch wheels, even on slipperier roads.
Value-wise the LX stacks up well against its competition, with Ford's equivalent Ranger 2.2-litre XL single cab starting from $38,390 plus on-roads and Mazda's BT-50 XT from $36,810.
However, a number of older rivals undercut it, including the Nissan Navara ($35,490), Mitsubishi Triton ($33,990) and the Toyota HiLux SR ($34,990).
While we did not manage any time behind the wheel of the top-spec LTZ crew cab, from a passenger's perspective it is well ahead of the more basic LX. Interior comfort and the quality of cabin materials such as the plush cloth seats made sure of that, and at $49,990, you would want it to feel a little more car-like than the LX, which it does.
Second-row passengers are catered for as well, with rear legroom of 914mm, more than the equivalent Ranger four-door’s 902mm.
The off-road portion of our drive was behind the wheel of the Colorado 7 seven-seat SUV, in top-spec LTZ guise.
The base LT is priced from $46,990 plus on-roads, and the LTZ from $50,490. By comparison, the Toyota Prado GX costs from $55,990 and tops out with the uber-luxury Kakadu version priced at $91,135. Colorado 7 is probably closer in price to the similarly utilitarian Mitsubishi Challenger that ranges between $42,490 to $49,990.
While the grey cabin in the LX ute doesn't bother us, the swathes of grey in the SUV was a bit much, possibly due to the sheer size of the cabin. The leather-appointed trim feels pretty cheap but would be easy to clean if muddy feet or exuberant children messed it up.
The split-fold third row that stows into the load space floor offers enough room for a small adult or large child to be comfortable, and it is easy to access thanks to the 60/40 split-fold second-row seats that tumble forward.
Interestingly, when matched with the revised six-speed auto, the 2.8-litre engine is noisier and sounds far more agricultural than when combined with the manual. However, when cruising at idle, even over rough dirt roads, it is smooth and quiet with no road noise.
Not much has changed since the Colorado 7 launched in December, but we are happy to add to our earlier review that highlighted the off-road capabilities of the big seven-seater.
The 7 never skipped a beat off-road, despite some challenging terrain. The standard hill descent function that brakes for the driver worked a charm, keeping the big wagon in check when negotiating steep, rocky and generally terrifying off-road tracks.
The Colorado 7 may not suit buyers looking for family-focussed city transport, although we think it could handle that role comfortably. It is, however, perfect for owners even remotely serious about off-roading every now and then.
With that in mind, price-wise it is a clear winner.
Some of the Colorado ute variants are a tad more expensive than equivalent rivals. However, the upgraded model’s improved safety and more grunt should attract a few more tradies and families to add it to the shopping list.
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