Colorado moves up as class act

Light trucks are dom­i­nat­ing the sales charts and it’s not dif­fi­cult to see why as they’re just as well ap­pointed as the fam­ily hatch­back. Dave Leggett re­ports.

Waitaki Herald - - CLASSIFIED -

For­get pres­tige sports cars and grand lim­ou­sines, the most im­por­tant ve­hi­cle on the New Zealand mar­ket is the one-tonne ute.

The ute dom­i­nated the sales charts last year and it’s been the same early this year as well.

Out of the six best sell­ing ve­hi­cles last month, four were utes, two of them knock­ing the peren­nial best­seller, Toy­ota’s Corolla, into third place.

Holden’s Com­modore was the only other car in the top six.

Holden’s en­try in the util­ity mar­ket is the Colorado, last year the third big­gest sell­ing util­ity with al­most 3000 sales and 8 per cent of the mar­ket.

It is al­ready look­ing to at least meet and prob­a­bly ex­ceed the 2014 sales fig­ures with more than 1000 sales so far this year.

A ma­jor re­vamp late last year has no doubt helped sales but it faces even stronger com­pe­ti­tion this year as most of the other ute mak­ers re­vise or re­place their own util­ity mod­els.

Mit­subishi has just launched its new Tri­ton and Nis­san is set to launch a new Navara at Fiel­d­ays next month. Ford has a re­vised Ranger com­ing to­wards the end of the year as does Mazda. And then there is Toy­ota’s Hilux also set for a com­plete re­vi­sion in the lat­ter part of the year. All light truck mak­ers know that it’s no longer enough to build a com­pe­tent ve­hi­cle able to carry a load and han­dle the tricky ter­rain around a build­ing site.

That’s be­cause th­ese days a ute is more than just a work­ing ve­hi­cle. It may have to carry up to five peo­ple rea­son­ably long dis­tances – and in some sort of com­fort. And it’s also likely to have to meet the ap­proval of driv­ers and pas­sen­gers within the fam­ily who use the ute as an ev­ery­day drive.

So that can mean it has to be as con­nected as any other ve­hi­cle with all the lat­est gad­getry and ac­cess to all the lat­est soft­ware.

The util­ity will also have to per­form at high­way speeds and in com­muter traf­fic and most ute driv­ers now ex­pect their ve­hi­cle to be as pro­fi­cient as a sedan in the ride and han­dling depart­ment. And at the same time it has to be as safe as the fam­ily hatch.

All that and the ute has still got to be able to fit a stan­dard sized load on the back and be able to scram­ble through the in­evitable morass at the front gate of the con­struc­tion site.

The top of the 11-model Colorado range is de­signed to meet all those chal­lenges and still sparkle. It’s the four-wheel drive LTZ crew cab, the high­est-spec model in the range that now sports a more ag­gres­sively styled front end.

It’s a big change for the ve­hi­cle and gives it a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity. The two-tier ef­fect of the grille suits the ve­hi­cle although I’m not sure it works as well on the other Holden ve­hi­cles that now get it. The Colorado range utilises just one en­gine, a 2.8-litre tur­bocharged diesel. It pro­duces 147kW of power and a mas­sive 500Nm at 2000rpm so it was more than enough to im­press am­bling around on and of­froad.

Drag­ging a trailer-load of fire­wood up from the bot­tom pad­dock the Colorado never even broke into a sweat. Five min­utes later it was sit­ting on the speed limit down SH3 and it was just the same. With the revs hov­er­ing on the 1700rpm mark, it was do­ing lit­tle more than idling so it’s no won­der it can re­turn a fuel econ­omy fig­ure un­der 9 litres per 100km.

In this up­mar­ket LTZ model, the en­gine is matched to a six- speed au­to­matic, one of the rea­sons the Colorado is now such an at­trac­tive high­way cruiser. Want four-wheel drive? Or low ra­tio? It couldn’t be eas­ier and all done on the fly through a large ro­tary switch just be­hind the gear shift.

As part of the facelift last year Holden did a lot of work on re­duc­ing the Colorado’s pow­er­train noise and it’s now a smooth pack­age out on the road. How­ever, it’s still a noisy en­gine and when you put the foot down the diesel unit, is very ob­vi­ous.

Re­vised spring rates and damper set­tings as well as a stiffer front sta­biliser bar have worked to give the Colorado an ex­cel­lent ride, one of its stand­out fea­tures.

Holden sees the im­por­tance of the Colorado’s ur­ban ap­peal so a rear view cam­era has been fit­ted.

Back­ing by touch is a thing of the past and a cam­era must surely be stan­dard item in any ute this size. Out of all the new fea­tures in the Colorado, this was the one from which I got the most ben­e­fit.

Oth­ers might get more from the MyLink en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem which fea­tures smart­phone in­te­gra­tion with Pan­dora in­ter­net ra­dio, Siri Eyes Free and Stitcher Smart Ra­dio as well as TuneIn ra­dio and BringGo Nav­i­ga­tion, all dis­played on a 7-inch centrally mounted screen.

Not of much use to me but cer­tainly an in­di­ca­tion of how the stan­dard ute has changed its use and its cus­tomer base.

And that makes a util­ity’s lack of stor­age space even more an­noy­ing than it did in the past. There is nowhere to put the weekly gro­cery buy or loose items.

Safety fea­tures have been up­rated so the Colorado LTZ gets a five-star ANCAP rat­ing and a six-airbag pack­age as well as an elec­tronic driver as­sis­tant pack­age that in­cludes trailer sway con­trol, hill start as­sist and hill de­scent con­trol to go with the other sta­bil­ity con­trol fea­tures.

Then there is the six-way elec­tric ad­justable driver’s seat that seems to go nicely with the cli­mate air and elec­tric win­dows, the soft touch door trims and arm­rest and the jet black high­lights around the cen­tre con­sole and in­stru­ment panel.

There is even a leather up­hol­stery op­tion with heated front seats for an­other $2000.

No won­der it’s so dif­fi­cult to con­tinue think­ing of the util­ity as a work­ing ve­hi­cle.

Hi-tech Holden Colorado LTZ takes the ute into sedan ter­ri­tory.

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