COLORADO TALKS TOUGH
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.