HOLDEN COLORADO 2WD ROAD TEST
Rear-wheel drive utes account for 10 percent of all local pick-up truck sales. The Editor samples Holden’s Colorado LTZ.
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THERE’S NO DRIVING experience quite like the satisfaction you get from driving a fine-handling big rear-wheel drive car along a winding road. Sure, well-sorted front-wheel drives and – especially – allwheel drives like Subaru’s Legacy provide plenty of satisfaction when the spirit of the boy takes over and you go driving purely for the joy of it.
But there’s an element missing – the sheer exhilaration of turning a big rear-wheel drive car into a high-speed bend and feeling the outside rear tyre bite as the weight transfers and the car accelerates eagerly off the corner.
It’s that feeling of balance that made the sportier big Aussie cars like the V8-powered Holden Commodore SS and the turbocharged six-cylinder Ford Falcon F6 so engaging to drive.
The Falcon XR6 turbo ute has been my favourite since I first drove it. Possessed of enough power, a sublime chassis and a handling nimbleness, it was truly a sports car with a load tray.
But I’ve just found a new subject for my automotive affections. It’s not a big rear-wheel drive Aussie car – they’re about to depart the new vehicle scene forever when Holden stops building Commodore cars and utes later this year.
But it’s a ute that proudly wears what’s arguably the proudest Aussie automotive badge: the rear-wheel drive Colorado LTZ ute has certainly called my eye and turned my head.
As a city dweller, I don’t really have a need for a four-wheel drive pick-up truck; the most challenging terrain I might encounter is a gravel road – and even that is very infrequently.
So a rear-drive double cab ute would fit the bill, with the added benefit of a load tray for the times I might need to haul some gear.
The LTZ is the top-of-the-line in the 2WD Colorado range. It has a comprehensive specification that includes stylish machinefaced 12-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels.
There’s also Holden’s Mylink Infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto; power windows and exterior mirrors, and the driver’s seat is electrically-adjustable in six directions. A soft tonneau cover for the load tray is standard.
The safety kit includes seven airbags: front and side for the driver and front seat passenger, cabin-length side curtains, and a knee bag for the driver.
And it has lane departure warning, a tyre-pressure monitoring system, forward collision alert with head-up warning, hill start assist, and a reversing camera.
The engine is the revised version of the 2.8-litre Duramax 2 inline four-cylinder introduced with the revamped Colorado last year. It’s a potent unit – maximum power is 147kw; peak torque is a 500Nm in the auto, 440Nm in the manual.
It gives the Colorado the ability to tow a 3500kg braked trailer and tote a payload we’ve estimated at 1100kg.
The test ute was fitted with the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox that can be manually over-ridden, though even on challenging roads we left it in Drive. The gearbox was never wrong-footed by the terrain and kick-down was instant.
Where the LTZ shone brightest was on twisting and turning rural roads where its finely-tuned chassis came into its own.
Part of our regular test route runs along the top of a ridge high above a deep valley where it’s better not to think of the drop.
The road jinks this way and that, before plunging downhill into a tightish left-hander that leads to a short straight followed by a tightening, off-camber right-hander.
It’s an exciting and challenging sequence of corners and straights, and when you nail it a wave of satisfaction spreads through your being.
Through this sequence, the LTZ was sublime, the beautifullytuned electric-assist steering allowing accurate car placement, the supple ride soaking up the mid-corner bumps, the ute feeling nimble and well balanced.
It felt, in fact, like a well-sorted big rear-wheel drive Aussie sedan, despite the high-riding suspension.
It would be a great companion for a long road trip, entertaining to drive, nicely quiet and with a ride quality that belies its workhorse underpinnings.
Here, indeed, is a vehicle that’s a very good choice for the urban driver who wants comfortable travel for up to five, combined with useful load-carrying ability.
The 2WD Colorado LTZ doesn’t knock the Falcon XR6 Turbo ute off the top of my automotive wish list, but you can’t buy a new Falcon anymore.
So the Colorado is a nice alternative with its potent motor, superbly-sorted chassis, excellent steering, and good levels of refinement. I’d be more than happy to run the rear-wheel drive Colorado LTZ as my daily driver..
Facing page: Two-wheel drive Colorado has four-wheel drive-like high-riding look.
Top : Colorado LTZ’S handsome face was backed up with solid performance, secure and nimble handling.
Above: Touch screen displays information, satellite navigation, reversing camera. Colorado has Holden’s Mylink system.