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.
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.
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
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!