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. ken­nard­ 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.

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