COLORADO Z71

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

ASCROLL down the specs list sug­gests Holden’s tak­ing few gam­bles with this lat­est Colorado. Even in LTZ trim it’s well catered for, match­ing the SR5 for ba­sic ameni­ties but up­ping the touch­screen to eight inches, while also throw­ing in Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto, which al­low the use of some apps through the screen.

Step up to the Z71, at $54,990, and you also get a ton­neau cover and leather trim. The black wheels, mir­ror caps, door han­dles and bon­net stick­ers also give it some bush bling, while the body coloured sports bar is a wel­come change from the long-favoured chrome.

POW­ER­TRAIN AND PER­FOR­MANCE

EN­GINE changes for the Colorado are lim­ited to re­fine­ment and meet­ing next level of emis­sions stan­dards, so no changes to the 147kw and 500Nm peaks from the 2.8-litre en­gine sourced from Italy’s VM Mo­tori.

Not that it des­per­ately needed more grunt. The 500Nm on of­fer en­sures there’s sub­stan­tial thrust, some­thing ac­cen­tu­ated by the new torque con­verter that locks up at very low revs. On a coun­try road it will ef­fort­lessly rely on its low rev pull, hold­ing 1600rpm or 1800rpm without com­plaint. By the time the full force ar­rives at 2000rpm the Colorado has a per­for­mance edge.

Hav­ing that di­rect link be­tween your right foot and a sub­stan­tial pool of torque some­how ac­cen­tu­ates the feel­ing that there’s plenty on of­fer, but it’s all about the mid-range. Rev it harder and the 147kw will briefly make it­self known be­fore the trans­mis­sion steps up a ra­tio. That six-speed does a slick job shift­ing be­tween gears, too, de­ci­sively and smoothly pluck­ing the right one.

It’s not the qui­etest en­gine around but is a huge step up on where the Colorado has been. At an of­fi­cial 8.7L/100km, fuel use is slightly up on the Hilux – although not to the point of be­ing any se­ri­ous dis­ad­van­tage.

HAN­DLING AND RIDE

EX­TEN­SIVE work has been done on the Colorado’s on-road manners, and it shows. Key to the changes are a re­vised steer­ing ra­tio that en­sures sharper re­sponses. Com­bined with a new elec­tric power steer­ing sys­tem, it makes for more con­sis­tent and re­as­sur­ing feed­back. The Colorado builds nice weight through flow­ing cor­ners, while re­main­ing light dur­ing low-speed ma­noeu­vring.

The Colorado now be­haves well over bumps, too. New dampers and a re­vised rear leaf spring set-up de­liver a good blend be­tween com­fort and con­trol. It’ll still bound around in the rear over re­peated bumps and is no Amarok in its out­right com­fort, but it set­tles quickly and still per­forms well with weight in the tray. The 18-inch Bridge­stone rub­ber is also worth a men­tion, with re­vi­sions bring­ing de­cent lev­els of grip that add to the over­all con­fi­dence.

That the Colorado also has im­pres­sive load fig­ures is a win; at 1007kg it’s rated to carry 82kg more than the Hilux, and its 3500kg tow ca­pac­ity matches the class lead­ers.

OFF-ROAD

THE area that’s re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion with the Colorado is its off-road abil­ity. Tweaks to the trac­tion con­trol cal­i­bra­tion are about it. That means the same 222mm of ground clear­ance – a whisker shy of the Hilux’s – the same 600mm wad­ing depth and the same part­time four-wheel drive sys­tem.

In medium ter­rain the Colorado per­forms well, scrab­bling up rocky trails and slush­ing through mud, but push it harder and its lim­its be­come clearer.

The trac­tion con­trol, for ex­am­ple, isn’t as smart at fig­ur­ing out which wheels have trac­tion, which can lead to ex­ces­sive wheel­spin. On one ex­treme hill climb the Colorado sim­ply wouldn’t crest it; the wheel­spin it in­duced slid it side­ways on to an­other part of the track that was im­pass­able. Af­ter three at­tempts we gave up.

Through mud, too, it re­ally could have done with a lock­ing rear diff. The lim­ited slip diff has ad­van­tages in some sit­u­a­tions, but it was mo­men­tum that ul­ti­mately got us out of a bog.

How­ever, the Hill De­scent Con­trol sys­tem is ex­cel­lent; en­gage it and you can eas­ily ad­just the set speed by ac­cel­er­at­ing or brak­ing. It’s su­per-sim­ple and very ef­fec­tive, snort­ing away like a rhino clear­ing its nose as the sys­tem au­to­mat­i­cally grabs brakes on steep drops.

Yet the Colorado’s ba­sics aren’t as well thought-out as those in the Hilux. The ap­proach an­gle, for ex­am­ple, is 28.6 de­grees, which is ex­cel­lent but slightly shy of its ri­val.

But it’s the tail that needs more thought. The de­par­ture an­gle is 23.2 de­grees (ver­sus the Hilux at 26) and the step on the bumper is ready to catch what­ever it is you’re com­ing off, which in turn could lead to broader bumper da­m­age. It’s not an ideal set-up and one that re­quires cau­tion when po­si­tion­ing the tail.

Un­derneath, too, the plas­tic pro­tec­tion to­wards the front of the un­der­tray isn’t as sturdy as the steel on the Hilux.

CABIN AND AC­COM­MO­DA­TION

THE Colorado is a mixed bag in­side. It’s er­gonom­i­cally su­pe­rior to the Hilux thanks to its prom­i­nent au­dio but­tons, and the lay­out is fresh and user friendly, sit­ting rel­a­tively

high on the cen­tre con­sole. The size­able icons on the touch­screen are also more log­i­cal, while the smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity is a win.

But it sheds some points once you set­tle into the front seats. Lat­eral sup­port isn’t great, and the steer­ing wheel doesn’t ad­just for reach, mak­ing it harder to fine-tune a com­fort­able po­si­tion. It’s only a mi­nor gripe, but the in­di­ca­tor stalk is too far from the steer­ing wheel, too.

In the rear, there are no grab han­dles for get­ting in, but once there there’s a frac­tion more head­room than in the Hilux; in part be­cause the an­gle of the seat­back is greater, some­thing that has ad­van­tages for longer jour­neys.

SUM UP

IF POINTS were awarded for im­prove­ments the Colorado would be a class stand­out, but the re­al­ity is that these changes bring the Colorado into the mix with the class lead­ers.

Per­for­mance, on-road dy­nam­ics and value are its stand­outs, although there’s room for im­prove­ment when it comes to off-road smarts.

For the first time in a long time the Colorado de­serves to be taken se­ri­ously

THE VER­DICT

IT’S BEEN a long time since we’ve had so many good things to say about a Colorado, but the up­dated model is a big im­prove­ment. For the first time in a long time the Colorado de­serves to be taken se­ri­ously. It’s a great ute … sorry, truck.

And while there’s room to im­prove its of­froad nous, it’s still a ca­pa­ble ve­hi­cle in the rough stuff. For much out­back tour­ing and the ma­jor­ity of off-road work it’ll match the Toy­ota Hilux.

But if you re­ally want to get se­ri­ous off-road then the Hilux is still tough to beat. Clever de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing makes it a se­ri­ously im­pres­sive ve­hi­cle over chal­leng­ing ob­sta­cles.

Ul­ti­mately, though, the af­ter­mar­ket will cater for some of the Colorado’s over­sights for those look­ing to more se­ri­ously test it.for most peo­ple, most of the time the Colorado is a more com­plete ma­chine, one that de­liv­ers with on-road poise and abil­ity. Plus, you get more for your money.

Z71 adds a ton­neau cover and leather trim, as well as black wheels, mir­ror caps, door han­dles and bon­net stick­ers.

The Colorado’s front pews aren’t class-lead­ing when it comes to com­fort, with poor lat­eral sup­port. In medium ter­rain the Colorado per­forms well, scrab­bling up rocky trails and slush­ing through mud

“I’ll go first with the Hilux. See if you can keep up!” The changes bring the Colorado into the mix with the class lead­ers!

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