FOCUS ON TOWING
Dean Evans hitches up a trailer and load to Holden’s Colorado Z71 ute to find out how the stylish truck fares.
AT LCV MAGAZINE, WE’RE IMPRESSED BY HOLDEN’S COLORADO – so much so that we awarded it the 2017 LCV Ute of the Year.
Having sampled its revisions in late 2016, we were equally pleased with its refinements in steering, noise and vibration, and were unsurprised to see it hold on to its number three sales position for ute sales in 2017.
Available in 12 models starting from just under $40,000, the range-topper is the Z71 4x4 model which has a sticker price of $67,000.
All Colorados run the same 2.8-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engine that produces a solid 147kw of maximum power and puts down solid acceleration numbers: 0 to 60kmh in 3.9 seconds (halfa-second faster than a Ford Ranger), and 100km/h in 9.9 seconds (one full second faster). Anything under 10 seconds is sharp in unladen-ute territory.
Where the Colorado shines is the torque its engine produces. And though it’s only a few Newton metres above its direct topselling Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger rivals, the Holden develops a very marketable 500Nm when combined with the six-speed automatic version (440Nm for manual).
That output is bettered only by the $84,000 Volkswagen Amarok V6 ute – and it’s rather handy when it comes to hauling its towing limit of 3500kg, plus a tonne of payload.
Holden even has a comprehensive payload calculator on its website, to provide a guide to a final payload rating based on accessories, passenger weight, equipment and down-weight on the towball.
Today, as wet test the truck with two up and some camera gear,
we’ve loaded up the Colorado Z71 to see how it handles around 2700kg – about 75 percent of its capacity.
We’re hauling a car trailer, tractor and mower, all courtesy of and available from Kennards Hire’s new branch in Hamilton.
As the weight was just over 2500kg – the legal maximum without service brakes – the Kennards Hire guys even supplied us with a plug-in remote electric brake set-up that was set to match the trailer and tractor combination’s weight.
The Colorado’s key rivals, Ranger and Hilux, sport similar engine capacities, power and torque, but a reasonably-high 18psi of turbo boost endows the Colorado with the magic 500Nm.
Impressively, however, it never sounds like it’s working hard. There’s a normal amount of diesel noise, and from five to 30km/h, the acceleration is very impressive.
It’s these strengths that remain when we hook up the Holden ute with the burden of weight.
With the 1700kg of tractor/mower perched on the trailer to distribute the load across its own axle weights, rather than the tow ball’s, the Colorado seems to barely suffer at all from any ill effects.
As a guide, we measured the 0 to 60km/h acceleration time, and discovered a keen reluctance to be bothered by the extra weight.
Its towing time of 7.3 seconds to 60km/h is immensely impressive – and seconds faster than other recent comparable ute tests.
We guide the long and low cargo out of Kennards driveway, squeeze on the throttle and the response is equally strong and immediate, with a rush of torque and acceleration.
And within three or four stop-start traffic lights, it’s almost as if the trailer isn’t there, with the Colorado effortlessly reaching the urban speed limit.
Braking, naturally enough, needs a firmer shove on the pedal, but with the adjustable electronic controller able to scale its assistance up and down quickly, it was easy to minimise pedal effort and help stabilise the trailer.
Surfing through the streets, as would be typical for this application, the only reminder that we were hauling something was the bright orange bucket in the interior mirror; and the width of the trailer that sometimes needed extra care, but was handled easily using the large exterior mirrors.
With a little more weight over the rear, the ride quality also improved, not that it was an issue previously, and even the sharp steering seemed largely unaffected.
However the tuning circle remains the only consideration: at 12.7 metres, it’s on the large side, though more noticeable around town and when parking, than while towing.
As speeds increase, so does the confidence. The overall control, ride, steering and performance package is as good as it gets in this leading ute class.
The Colorado slips through its six-speed automatic gearbox eagerly and often in the ideal gear; and basically showing how it’s done properly.
After a few hundred kilometres, we’re back into the Kennards
yard, suitably impressed.
Being critical of Colorado’s towing ability isn’t easy, with only the fuel use being a minor issue.
Around town with normal driving (not towing), we saw the Colorado use around 9.8 litres/100km, and a little less on the motorway.
When loaded up and working harder, all that torque does use more fuel, but at 14.5 litres/100km it’s proportional with the performance and its rivals like the Ranger.
On the back of another strong sales year and our previous experience with the Colorado, the Z71 came into this test with high expectations – and it didn’t disappoint.
Our thanks to: Kennard’s Hire Hamilton 07 834 4090, www. kennardshire.co.nz for providing the trailer and load.
Colorado’s massive torque – 500Nm in the auto as tested – made light work of towing.
Above left: Car trailer and tractor/mower combination provided a load of just over 2500kg. Above right: Tow tester Dean Evans rated the Colorado Z71’s towing ability at 5 out of 5. Below: Dual-axle trailer provided good stability when towing and distributed weights across its own axles.
Above left: Good-sized reversing camera helped when backing towball up to trailer hitch. Above right: Load looks impressive viewed through rear window looking along Colorado’s hard tonneau lid. Below: Kennards Hire provided the tractor/mower and trailer from its Hamilton branch.
Test Colorado looked handsome in black – this particular vehicle has an All Black provenance, being driven previously by Holden ambassador Mils Muliaina.