The Colorado you see here is the MY17 model, a major mid-generation upgrade that has been a ‘pull it right apart and put back together again’ exercise for Holden.
The Colorado has been tweaked here and there since it arrived in 2012, but nothing like what has been put into this MY17 model in an effort to close the gap on the class frontrunners, especially in terms of refinement.
The Colorado has four tie-down hooks in the tub of a decent size that accommodate the tie-down straps without a problem. Not much sag at the rear, either – around 60mm, which is as good as it gets in this company – with the 800kg pallet on board. With a total payload of 970kg (including driver, observer and tow-bar), the extra 800kg leaves around 115kg payload in the base-spec Colorado 4x4 dual-cab pick-up and just shy of 40kg in the top-spec Z71.
The Colorado’s 2.8-litre is notable in this company for having the most torque, a claimed 500Nm max, even better than the bigger 3.2-litre five-cylinder engines in the Ranger and BT-50. From previous experience, we know the 500Nm serves the Colorado well because, unladen at least, it’s the fastest accelerating of these automatic diesel 4x4 utes.
This 500Nm figure is unchanged for the MY17, but it’s now delivered in a more refined manner with significantly less noise and vibration than before. Better driveability, too.
The engine coped easily with the 800kg in the tub, although it generally revs harder than the bigger engines in the Ford and Mazda when climbing. This is probably due to the fact the Colorado’s max torque isn’t on tap until 2000rpm.
Still, the engine is a lot quieter and smoother than before, which says something given it is working harder carrying the extra 800kg.
For its part, the gearbox’s new torque convertor (part of the MY17 upgrade) has improved the shift quality noticeably, and the Colorado was the only gearbox to provide auto back shifts on hill descent without a ‘prompt’ via applying the brakes. Smart gear selection is on the way up too – it doesn’t hold the short gears too long or pick up the taller gear too early.
MY17 also means electric power steering for Colorado and, like the Ford, this means very little steering effort at parking speeds, a bonus with all the weight in the back. Like the Ford, the steering weighs up nicely with speed to give a good feel despite the 800kg tub load. General stability was fine, and the rear suspension didn’t feel to bottom out on any of the bumps over the course.
The recently updated Colorado came into the fray with a point to prove and it was the only new vehicle in the test. In the past, its lack of refinement has let it down, even though it looks to have the goods on paper. And boy, the Colorado has made a great leap forward.
The 147kW/500Nm 2.8-litre is a little more hushed in the cab, and the whole driveline has been smoothed out with new mounts for the engine and transmission.
The Colorado took the weight of our load quite well. But bury the hoof and the Duramax donk is another engine that punches above its weight. It squats and hauls really well. Power delivery is measured and civilised.
But the biggest leap forward for the lion-badged ute is the new centrifugal pendulum torque converter in front of the six-speed auto. The result is the smartest and most intuitive ‘box out of the bunch. Hauling uphill saw faster, smoother decisive changes, and it allowed the tacho to hang in the 2200rpm torque range under load.
There was no need for any manual intervention on descent as the tranny downshifted to hold back the weight. While the Colorado has had its rougher edges smoothed out, one area that let it down was the rear end. The Colorado lost a leaf spring, moving from a 3+2 to a 3+1 arrangement and it showed on the road. At max weight, the Holden feels a little soft and wiggly out back.
Holden is calling its Colorado a ‘truck’ rather than a ute since its recent remake, but does that mean it’s any better suited to hard work?