As Holden, the Australian arm of global giant General Motors, winds down in respect to local manufacturing, there’ll be a simultaneous increase in the vehicles being sourced from outside the island continent. The Colorado, a name with a definitive nod to the Americas, is and has been for some years, one of those vehicles. There’s a three model range, built around the cab chassis, space cab and crew cab, with various trim levels and a mix of two and four wheel drive.A Wheel Thing normally spends a week with a car, however due to the Christmas break for 2016, had the Holden Colorado LTZ with 2.8L Duramax diesel for just under three. This included a return trip to the cheese capital of south eastern Australia, Bega, via both the coastal and inland routes.
Immediately noticeable is the sheer size of the Colorado; at five point three metres long, it offers plenty of leg room for humans in both front and rear cabin sections (1072 mm front, 872 mm in the rear) thanks to a huge 3096 mm wheelbase and 1800 mm overall height, enough shoulder room for three adults in reasonable comfort in the rear with 1472 mm, and a good sized tray complete with a simple to operate tonneau cover. The test car was coated in dirt and scratch highlighting metallic black.A redesigned front end graces the 2017 spec models, removing the droopy eye look that tied the Colorado to the Malibu and, to a lesser extent, the Commodore. A smaller headlight cluster raises the nose visually, with the heavier two bar grille also replaced with a simpler, slimmer, and more elegant design. Slimline LED daytime running lights complete the picture. From the rear and in profile, there’s little to differentiate between this and the previous, excepting the sensors front and rear.Inside, it’s a mix of standard Holden switchgear, reasonably comfortable seats (the powered fronts could use more side support and can be optioned for heating in the LTZ but, stupidly, not cooling), some questionable locations for a couple of essential pull tabs, an eight inch MyLink touchscreen (models below have seven inches) of good design with Android and Apple Carplay, a multifunction monochrome driver’s display, and, surprisingly, a forward collision alert system. Holden’s website says there’s DAB fitted as well. Rear seat passengers get their own 12V socket and you can count on Bluetooth streaming for sounds.There’s even pressure equalising windows, in that they drop automatically when you open the door and raise by themselves when closing.Up front is the Isuzu sourced 2.8 litre Duramax diesel, coupled to a wide ratio six speed auto and electronic four wheel drive system. That’s operated via a centre console mounted dial. When bolted to the auto, there’s a peak torque figure of 500. That’s reduced to 440 Nm when the six speed manual is added in and both figures come in at just 2000 rpm. Peak power is a healthy 147 kilowatts and that’s at 3600 revs. After something close to 1700 kilometres of driving, the economy was 8.8 litres of dinosaur juice being consumed for every 100 kilometres covered, with Holden quoting one litre below that for the combined cycle from the 76 litre tank. That’s some good figures to look at, given the 2100+ kg weight of the LTZ before you insert people and cargo.
The engine itself, in highway cruise mode, was barely audible, with a light throttle bringing in a light chatter. Under acceleration from stand still, or for overtaking, then that chatter became a cacophony. Those wide ratios don’t make for easy overtaking quickly, with the long sweeping or straight country highway sections needing a fair measure of forward planning. If you’re towing (up to 3500 kilos) or have loaded the tray (1000 kilograms), you can expect more load noise and, naturally, a higher consumption figure
Adding to the occasional pucker factor of passing was the lack of real brake feel. There’s discs up front, drums at the rear, and a pedal that failed to instill confidence due to the lack of bite and comparative need for long travel. The all surface tyres, with a high sidewall, were grippy enough on dry tarmac and wet river sand, but also didn’t feel confident on wet tarmac, particularly in one emergency stop situation.The Colorado was taken through a short stretch of river to test both the four wheel drive and the wading depth capability of 600 mm. With a simple wrist flick, the dial is moved from 2WD to 4WD, and it’s noticeable in the drive train immediately. Eased into the softer shore sand than then gently but consistently run, the two combined to cover the twenty or so metres easily, with the 28 and 22 degree approach and departure angles allowing ease of entry and exit.
Match this up against a vastly improved ride quality, however, and the Colorado delights. Gone is the twitchy, jiggly ride, replaced by a firmer yet still compliant handling package, thanks to re-rated leaf springs at the rear and a nicely tuned double wishbone front. The 265/60/18 rubber from Bridgestone adds to the comfortable flow the vehicle has. Yes, it’s a touch floaty over the rear yet even that was easily controlled thanks to the addition of luggage. On the sweeping curves of the highway south of Narooma, and on the picturesque Snowy Mountains Highway, this extra stability became evident and allowed for more finesse to be applied to the driving style. On downhill runs, a system called Grade Braking comes into play, dropping the gearbox down a ratio or two, and it becomes a fine mix between the foot playing the brake pedal and accelerator.
Handling is predictable, with a well weighted steering set up. Although somewhat vague on centre, it does tighten up considerably and provides good feedback to the driver. It’s not a system that likes being hustled though, preferring the driver to communicate a direction change gently but will begrudgingly accede to a sudden change of direction request. Once you’ve had some time behind the wheel, you’ll get a feel for how the system responds to your input and will be able to judge for yourself just how communicative it can be when required. Turning circle is a smaller than expected 12.3 metres. Acceleration is the same. Although there’s more than an abundance of torque, the ratios in the ‘box don’t translate to rapidity off the line, but will give some urge mid range at highway speeds. Ideal for long overtakes on a country road, for example.Naturally you’ll get Holden’s standard three year/100,000 kilometre warranty, plus lifetime capped servicing, 12 months roadside assist and Holden’s new 24 Hour test service when you’re in the market for a new car such as the Colorado.
At The End Of The Drive.
The Colorado has tough competition in the form of Ranger, Navara, Triton, and Toyota’s seemingly unstoppable HiLux. However there’s a good price in place, with just $50490 for the LTZ. Looks are well and truly in the eye of the beholder and the 2017 Colorado’s facelift brings it back into play over the previous model, in the opinion of A Wheel Thing. The onboard range of features and tech, the carlike ride quality, and the roomy interior bring the vehicle well and truly into the ring. The Colorado is now a stand-up contender in the family four door ute stakes.
Go here for further information on the 2017 Holden Colorado range