Holden introduces its new, top of the range, Colorado Z71 pick-up

There’s a new addition to the Colorado nameplate, that of the Z71 pick up, and Delivery was fortunate in being the first specialist magazine invited by Holden to complete a full test programme.

Based on the MY16 Colorado LTZ 4×4 Crew-Cab pick-up, Colorado Z71 adds a long list of additional equipment that makes the ownership experience a more pleasant, and certainly more appealing environment.

There’s obviously a hint of D-MAX about the cab interior that results from the joint development between General Motors and Isuzu Ute over the chassis and body, but there the similarities end, with Colorado featuring a different engine and driveline.

The 2.8-litre, four-cylinder Duramax 2 diesel features common-rail injection and produces 147 kW at 3600 rpm. With the six-speed automatic transmission peak torque is 500 Nm rated at 2000 rpm, but presumably because of torque input restrictions on the six-speed manual gearbox, the engine’s peak torque rating is cut back to 440 Nm, again at 2000 rpm. Service intervals are every 15,000 km or 12 months.

Holden_Colorado_6The leather appointed front seats are heated for those cold winter mornings and the driver’s seat is power adjusted, matched for positioning by a rake adjustable steering column.

The media infotainment unit (also in some families known as a touchscreen display), projects a very clear and decisive view of the area behind the tray when reversing, backed up by audible close proximity warning beeps.

The screen itself is large, at seven inches, and forms the control system for Holden’s MyLink infotainment system and the operating parameters of the Bluetooth connectivity, vehicle settings and audio systems. Mounted in the centre of the dash, we were not too keen on the shiny black plastic surround that encases it. On a bright day the high gloss finish is going to reflect sunlight and become annoying.

The Z71 is presumably aimed at those that want everything included in a price structure of $54,990 (inc GST) for the manual and $57,190 (inc GST) for the auto, yet the $4000 price premium over other models doesn’t include SAT/NAV in the deal.

A new acoustic package to reduce powertrain noise across the entire range now applies to all the Colorado range, and the Z71 also has key exterior upgrades in the form of 18-inch Arsenal Grey (gun metal) alloy wheels, sail plane and styled nudge bar, as well as a selection of black design content.

All Z71 models gain black body side door mouldings and a black hood with Z71 graphic, which may not suit every buyer’s preference in place of a bonnet that matches the rest of the vehicle body colour.

Colorado this year also benefits from wind noise improvements after intensive testing and development, including work done at the Monash wind tunnel facility. There are also refinements to Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

Holden_Colorado_5The new acoustic package reduces powertrain airborne noise making highway and urban driving quieter. With all windows closed the interior is certainly very quiet, and whatever they did in the wind tunnel has worked, as wind noise is certainly kept well in the background and doesn’t intrude into the cabin.

Driving in the city and out on the freeway showed the Colorado as being well configured. Even when climbing steep hills the 500 Nm of torque never showed any sign of being beaten by the terrain. The six-speed auto is also intuitive, and, when descending steep hills on cruise control, if it detects a speed over run the transmission will downshift in order to exercise control over the vehicle speed.

In our view the rack and pinion steering seems a little vague and doesn’t provide much by way of road feel back to the driver, and with a turning circle of 12.7 metres you’ve got to choose your moment if you want to do a rapid “U” turn. That said, not many utes can spin on a dime, and unless a lot of work has taken place on the suspension settings the general feel is a bit on the woolly side.

Compared to the LTZ Colorado model that was supplied by Holden for the Delivery Magazine 2015 Ute of the Year test, the Z71 is a significant improvement and performed to a much higher standard.

The front suspension of the Colorado runs with an independent double wishbone, coil-over damper front end with leaf springs on the rear live axle. Brakes are disc/front and drum/rear.

Back in November last year Holden released what it called the ‘Comfort Suspension’ tune for LTZ models that comprises revised spring rates and damper tune in addition to a new stiffer front stabiliser.

Holden claimed at the time the Comfort Suspension improves ride balance and isolation resulting in a smoother, more comfortable ride, particularly on urban roads. Our view at Delivery is that the suspension on the Z71 on test felt noticeably better controlled, and, as we explain in further detail, it performed to a higher level than we found with the LTZ.

Given the problems reported in this issue that surfaced with the suspension capability of Navara NP300 coil sprung ute, itself a top-of-the-line exercise in ownership, we’ll report rather more closely than normal as to our view of the ride and handling of the Colorado.

When run unladen around the Delivery test route the suspension settings were noticeably on the firm side, producing a slight jitteriness from the rear end on road sections that provide an almost continuous supply of potholes and sharp undulations. That said, the ride and handling was predictable and didn’t produce any surprises, if anything being slightly over damped, which contributed to the firm ride.Holden_Colorado_7

The addition of our standard 400 kg test load settled the suspension down and gave a correspondingly smoother ride when travelling over the same road section, demonstrating more of an ability to roll over the potholes rather than be influenced by them. The ride height at the rear dropped by 40 mm to 92 mm, but the front stayed unchanged at 90 mm when measured from ground to wheel arch peak through the axle centreline.

In an unladen state there’s a 60 mm variation in ride height between the front and the rear axle, and with the 400 kg load on board the balance of the Colorado is maintained to give a level ride, with no evidence of tail-down/front-up appearance. In Australian family or work applications this indicates that Holden has worked out its suspension settings to suit load carrying, rather than erring on the side of providing an extremely soft, car-like ride that self destructs ride and handling ability when the tub is loaded.

Colorado Z71 dual-cab comes with a full five-star ANCAP crash safety and a stated maximum towing limit of 3500 kg. On that last statement Delivery repeats it’s belief that these latest towing limits announced for many of the 2015 release models are set too high for safety and brings into question the ability of the driver and the towing vehicle to operate at those high weights.

Although Colorado comes with TSC (Trailer Sway Control) as part of the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) package of hill-start assist, traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution and anti-lock brakes, keeping towing weights lower increases the safety levels and reduces the margin for error.

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