Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill McKin­non

HOLDEN refers to 2017 Colorado as a truck, not a ute.

Truck sounds tougher and in this class tough­ness – real or per­ceived – is cur­rency be­cause the au­di­ence is nearly all blokes and the con­text is usu­ally work as well as play.

So the Colorado, priced from $57,190, gets a more toned, ag­gres­sive front end with the top spec Z71 we’re test­ing to­day look­ing suit­ably mean and dan­ger­ous in Ab­so­lute Red with black de­tail­ing, in­clud­ing fat stripes on the bon­net, and gloss black 18-inch al­loys.

In­side, a new dash and cen­tre con­sole are wrapped in what Holden calls "so­phis­ti­cated ma­te­ri­als, fab­rics and fin­ishes".

Holden's MyLink mul­ti­me­dia fea­tures Ap­ple/An­droid phone smarts.

Voice con­trol for nav­i­ga­tion, phone and au­dio gets it right more of­ten than most.

It was hit-and-miss at read­ing the sig­nal from my iPod, plugged in via USB.

I'm 183cm and found the driv­ing po­si­tion re­stric­tive and un­com­fort­able. You sit close to the floor and there's no reach for the steer­ing wheel, so you have to push the seat for­ward and put up with tight legroom.

Trac­tor-like grunt avail­able from idle and an ef­fort­less mid-range al­lows you to chug around town us­ing min­i­mal revs.

The other main an­noy­ance, es­pe­cially in the work con­text, is in­suf­fi­cient stor­age close at hand, es­pe­cially the con­sole. Pock­ets in the front of the seats are handy but the door bins are too small and the open, un­lined tray atop the dash is too shal­low.

There's plenty of rear legroom (be­cause the driver can't use much front seat travel) and you sit on a low bench, slightly knees up. The tub has no 12V out­let or liner; even at Z71 level, a tow­bar is op­tional and the ton­neau has a fid­dly, te­dious fas­ten­ing ar­range­ment. A tonne of dust is sucked into the tub on a dirt road.

The 2.8-litre turbo diesel still has a slightly grav­elly tex­ture and tone when ac­cel­er­at­ing from rest.

The brakes were pow­er­ful, pro­gres­sive and eas­ily mod­u­lated on dirt.

Driv­ing for econ­omy, I achieved 89litres/100km.

The six-speed's shift map­ping is more seam­less than pre­vi­ously, though it's still prone to an oc­ca­sional need­less down­shift when you touch the brakes.

Ride com­fort im­proves with speed. On a rough coun­try road at 100km/h, the Colorado is among the bet­ter one-ton­ners, with well-con­trolled, com­pli­ant sus­pen­sion that de­liv­ers se­cure road­hold­ing and ab­sorbs big hits prop­erly rather than send­ing them thump­ing through the body.

Off-road, it's sim­i­larly im­pres­sive. How­ever, there's no lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial or pro­tec­tion for the trans­fer case. Max­i­mum pay­load is 1000kg. Ver­dict: The sub­stan­tial driv­e­train and chas­sis engi­neer­ing up­date gives the Colorado the per­for­mance, ride and han­dling to ar­gue with Ranger for best-in-class sta­tus as a drive.

Holden's Colorado has had a sub­stan­tial up­grade for 2017.

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