SECONDS THOUGHTS | Review Holden Colorado LTZ

It’s taken its time to gain its credentials, but the latest Colorado is a different beast from the early versions – report by Stuart Martin.

STARTING behind the eight ball has never been better demonstrated than by Holden’s Colorado. It was a long way off the pace and underdone when it arrived to replace the outgoing machine, shared with Isuzu, as well as running into the Australian-engineered Ford Ranger, it’s BT-50 cousin and the Volkswagen Amarok.

The segment standards meant updates to the Colorado brought it closer, but, as the segment leaders kept shifting the goalposts, Holden had plenty of work still to be done.

With this latest update, the Thai-sourced light-commercial wears a Holden badge on a much more handsome snout, which puts it ahead of the Mazda for aesthetics straight away.

We’re driving the top-spec LTZ in automatic guise, which is a $52,690 proposition, but it has an equipment list that’s nothing at which to sneeze – single zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment with built-in sat/nav and full smartphone integration, cloth trim (leather remains an option), power-adjustable driver’s seat, power windows and mirrors (which are also folding and heated), carpeted floor, decent door pockets and rear under-seat storage.

It’s still powered by a largely-unchanged 2.8-litre, which when teamed to the auto offers 147 kW and 500 Nm and delivers it with a typical four-cylinder diesel soundtrack. The updated auto has a revamped torque converter lock-up function, but it still seems to take too much of the edge off the outputs.

It seems a little quieter than the superseded vehicle – thicker glass and some structural changes have helped – but the accelerator still needs a solid prod to get a decent response from the powerplant.

After almost 900 km of varied duty in the Colorado, the vehicle’s comprehensive trip computer (with a digital speed readout among a wide range of info on offer) was reading 11 litres per 100 km at an average speed of 34 km/h from the 76-litre tank, which, given it endured plenty of commuting, low-range off-road work and towing, was not beyond expectations.

The chassis feels tighter and stronger, and changes to the steering ratio give an improved response, thanks to Holden reducing the turns lock-to-lock to 3.3. The LTZ also feels like it benefits from being on Goodyear Wrangler tyres on the optional black alloy wheels.

A stint with the tub – which measures 1.4 m by 1.5 m wide and 1.1 m wide between the wheel arches – highlighted that for unladen running it showed revised damping and tweaked spring rates have seen the ride quality remain more than decent, without being outstanding, and sitting near the better vehicles of the segment.

When there’s work to be done – having removed the awkward soft tonneau cover – any suggestion of ride ruffles are smoothed out nicely with a few hundred kilograms on board in the lined tub, with only the absence of a 12-volt outlet (seen in Amarok and Ranger) noted.

The LTZ tips the scales at a 2121 kg kerb weight, with a GCM of 6000 kg, a braked towing capacity of 3500 kg and a 1029 kg payload xlisted by industry websites, but the spec sheets avoids the payload subject.

Covered by the brand’s lifetime capped-price servicing program, the intervals are every nine months or 15,000 km (at the time of writing priced from $349 to $409 for a major service), with a three-year/100,000 km warranty that’s not the best in the segment.

The cabin is a much better place to spend time than its forebears from the perspective of using the equipment in the dashboard – it’s a clean layout now dominated by a MyLink eight-inch (up from the seven-inch unit in lower-spec models) touchscreen with Apple CarPlay option if you want it.

The mapping for the built-in system is easy to see, and pairing phones to the Bluetooth link within the good-quality seven-speaker sound system (with digital radio reception and music apps) is one of the easier systems to use.

The fact that it doesn’t force the driver to use the smartphone integration and use the USB cable to allow charging, is an example of some thought being put into the systems, as is the climate control’s habit of dropping the fan speed if a phone call is made using the Bluetooth-connected phone.

The brief opening and closing of windows to limit the buffeting when a door is shut is also a neat trick.

The driver gets an auto-dimming centre mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio, phone, trip and cruise controls, but there’s only tilt adjustment, which is an ongoing grumble for many – but not all – that feature in this market segment.

Gripes about the driving position and view are few – the rear window view benefits from removing the rear centre headrest and stashing it under a seat. But the driver’s seat would be well served by the ability to tilt the seat cushion; more steering adjustment (including reach) wouldn’t go astray either. Rear occupants get a fold-down armrest and a 12-volt outlet, but there’s no USB or vents.

Safety features for this five-star ANCAP ute include seven airbags, stability and trailer sway control, forward collision and emergency braking, lane departure warning system, hill descent control, rain sensing wipers, automatic halogen headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring.

The test vehicle was also used as a demonstration of the updated accessories list on offer with the new model, with just about as many aftermarket bits as could be fitted.

It was sitting on black 18-inch alloys with Goodyear Wrangler tyres, which brought it up a notch in terms of looks and added some functionality. Also handy was the rear steel bumper with steps, which made standing on the rear for loading or tray access an easy task.

Underbody protection was reassuring, and tubular side steps made the journey into the cabin a little easier. Weather shields on the windows helped with ventilation during rain and quick cool-downs after it had been parked in hot conditions.

Sun shades for the rear side and rear windows were also welcome in warm conditions, although the quick-removal clips might not withstand serious corrugations to hold the screens in place.

The nose had been fitted with the steel ‘safari’ bar that replaces the entire bumper, and also had the LED light bar to effectively illuminate the road ahead.

Cupholders aiming to mimic the functions of some competitors’ equipment sit in front of vents for drink heating and/or cooling, but it does block the driver’s access to the headlight controls.

All up, the accessorised LTZ totalled a little over $72,494, a vehicle that stood out from the growing crowd of dual-cabs on the road.

The substantially-refreshed Colorado is much closer to where it needs to be in terms of its competition, but this market segment is fast becoming the one to watch for deals, incentives and marketing programs to move metal.

Holden has had the price advantage in the past and now has the vehicle that doesn’t need to use value as its main sales pitch.

That said, the segment has continued to develop. Although it could be said the Colorado has not done enough to put it at the top of a shopping list, it’s done enough to make it a must-drive for those in the dual-cab ute market.

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