Holden Colorado LT-Z
The Colorado first arrived in 2012 but it’s the ‘re-birth’ it underwent for the 2017 model year that really counts
In designing and developing this generation Colorado for release in 2012, GM didn’t piggyback off Isuzu as it had done for all its previous Rodeo utes and even the original Colorado. Instead, GM marshalled its global resources to design a ute from the ground up with its VM Motori four-cylinder diesel coming from Italy, the six-speed automatic from GM in the US, and the whole thing pulled together by a design team headquarted at GM Brazil.
The trouble was that it wasn’t quite right on many fronts and was tweaked in 2013 and then again in 2014 before being pulled right apart – almost down to the last nut and bolt – and put back together with a host of new or revised parts for its 2017 rebirth. Australian Holden engineers were instrumental in all this, and models for local consumption received additional noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) measures, auto gearbox and manual gearing upgrades in addition to the broad-brush global changes.
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
The Colorado 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel claims 500Nm of torque, which is more than the notably bigger five-cylinder engines in the Ranger and the BT-50 and only 50Nm less than the potent V6 in the Amarok.
Often on-paper engine output figures don’t translate into realworld get-up-and-go but that’s not the case with the Colorado, which edges out all the other utes here for pedal-to-the metal performance bar the Amarok.
In general driving too, the Colorado delivers on its 147kW (197hp)/500Nm promise and offers plenty of performance – even if it needs to rev harder than the bigger five-cylinders engines in the Ranger and BT-50, which also claim 147kW, or the Amarok’s V6, to get the same job done. All the while, the Colorado’s four-cylinder, complete with counter-rotating balance shafts relocated in the MY17 engine upgrade, is smooth enough but still a little on the noisy side despite being much quieter than it was before the MY17 changes.
The Colorado’s six-speed automatic was also much improved for 2017 and is the pick of the six-speed automatics here in terms of shift quality, especially with its proactive rather than reactive shift protocols.
ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING
Among the raft of improvements implemented for the 2017 model year, the Colorado gained new springs, dampers and sway bar at the front, and new springs and dampers at the rear.
Electric power steering was also introduced and replaced the conventional hydraulically assisted steering used previously. The end result is light steering and good manoeuvrability at parking speeds yet a very confident and composed feel at highway speeds; good ride quality too for a ute on most roads – even unladen – and the front-to-rear suspension match is well sorted.
Alone in this company, the Colorado has a rear limited-slip diff (LSD), which, according to Holden’s engineers, helps particularly on wet bitumen in situations where you need to put your foot down, such as when joining a fast-moving traffic stream from a side street. The LSD prevents the inside rear wheel (remember, part-time 4x4 means rear-drive only on the road) from spinning up and activating the electronic traction control (ETC) and potentially cutting the engine’s power … not what you want when you have a truck bearing down on you.
While the Colorado’s 3,150kg gross vehicle mass is a nominal 50kg less than the Ranger and BT-50, it doesn’t really suffer in terms of payload limits.
With our test 900kg total payload on board, the Colorado’s chassis coped well and didn’t feel under any particular duress. It’s one of the best here, in fact, even if it’s a notch down on the chassis stability of the Ranger and the very similar BT-50.
There’s plenty of power, too, for load hauling, even if you notice the Colorado’s engine propensity to rev harder than the bigger engines in the Amarok and Ranger/BT-50 when not carrying a load. In our recent Max Load and Tow Test (which didn’t include the Amarok V6), the Colorado was second only to the winning Ranger and on equal footing with the BT-50.
As with the Ranger and BT-50, the Colorado has a 6,000kg gross combined mass (GCM) and 3,500kg towing capacity.
Negative marks for the Colorado’s tie down hooks in the tub. The problem is that the two front hooks are mounted high in the tub, which means they are only useful to restrain tall loads.
Compared with the best utes here off road, the Colorado needs more wheel travel to be truly competitive. It also doesn’t have a rear locker and is one of only two utes here without one. (Not that all lockers are created equal as some cancel the ETC on the front axle when they are engaged and others don’t.)
Thankfully the Colorado makes up for its modest travel and no locker with its now very effective ETC, another significant improvement that came with the MY17 upgrade. Where before, the Colorado was a tail-ender in this class, in terms of off-road ability it’s now very much a competitive mid-fielder. And, while it worked hard to negotiate our gnarly and steep set-piece hill, it still made it to the top.
CABIN AND SAFETY
Among the many 2017 upgrades, the Colorado received a much-needed interior makeover, which saw the previous rather cheap-feeling dash replaced by something far more classy and presentable.
There’s plenty of room in the Colorado cabin, too, even if it’s not as big overall as the Ranger and BT-50, nor as wide as the Amarok, something you notice most with three adults across the rear seat. It has a decent level of safety as well, even at this popular LTZ-spec level, and a five-star ANCAP rating.
A good spread of dealers, especially in country areas, and plenty of after-market accessories are both Colorado positives. And while the LTZ wears 18-inch wheels, the 17s from the LT fit and will open up the tyre choice as well as improve the ride quality on bumpy roads.
The interior had a much needed makeover in MY17