Holden has finally gotten serious about the large SUV market. After years of watching its rivals migrate buyers out of big sedans and into even bigger off-roaders, the Red Lion has launched a proper four-wheel drive of its own.
The Colorado 7 is based on the Colorado pick-up, meaning a ladder-on-frame chassis and four-wheel drive with a transfer case for work far off the beaten track. So it’s tough.
A reversing camera with overlaid guidelines on the rear-view mirror is standard on both the LT and LTZ models, as is Bluetooth and USB connectivity and cruise control. A six-speaker stereo system is capable but not class-leading.
The LTZ picks up another pair of speakers, climate-control airconditioning and highlights like chrome accents and leather seat trim. The direct-injection turbodiesel engine is a robust performer without being the most refined donk in this field. It is matched to a six-speed auto - that’s an extra cog over its rivals - but uses marginally more fuel at a claimed 9.4 litres/100km.
The Colorado 7 is a part of the GM global range. It is a re-nosed Chevrolet Trailblazer that is built in Thailand and was designed in Brazil. The slab-sided design gives it a solid look that’s softened by the scalloped doors and the side steps and fog lights give it a decent upmarket look.
The inside is more utilitarian - especially on the LT model - though the driver’s display graphics are relatively modern and the rotary dial in the centre stack is easy to operate. Cargo space is a light-car like 235 litres but that extends to 878 litres with the third-row seats folded into the floor. Flick a latch and the tumble-down second row seating expands space to a van-like 1780 litres.
ANCAP accepts the Colorado 7’s pick-up heritage as cause to rate it a high five stars. Only the Toyota Prado and ML Mercedes top it and in the case of the Prado, only just. Front airbags and full-length curtain bags are standard, along with the expected brake-based software nannies.
The diesel engine is noisy. It’s not tractor-like but a bit more insulation in the firewall could have softened it. That’s the only complaint about noise; for a big bus there is very little wind rush or tyre roar, even on coarse chip surfaces.
The five-link rear suspension also does a decent job of softening pitching and rolling usually found in ladder-on-frame platforms. And those on-road manners only get better when the going gets rough. Switch the rotary dial mounted between the front seats to low range and the Colorado 7’s crawls over rocks and wades through slush far better than it should given the road-biased rubber it runs on.
Toss a decent set of off-road tyres on it and there would be very few places it isn’t capable of travelling. A sump guard is standard and ground clearance is more than adequated, as is the 600mm wading depth.
If your tastes tend to tough SUVs that can tow a horse - or two - the Colorado 7 is worth a test drive. If you want more cosseting inside, there’s always the Captiva.
Warranty: three years/100,000km
Service Interval: 12 months/15,000km
Crash rating: five stars
Safety: six airbags, ABS with TC, ESC, ABD and hill descent control
Engine: 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, 132kW/470Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, 4WD
Dimensions: 4.88m (L), 2.13m (W), 1.84/1.85m (H)
Spare: full size (steel)
Thirst: 9.4L/100km, 252g/km CO2
Toyota Prado GX
Engine: 3.0L four-cylinder turbodiesel 127kW/410Nm
Transmission: five-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 8.5L/100km, 225g/km CO2
Mitsubishi Pajero GLX
Engine: 3.2L four-cylinder turbodiesel, 147kW/441Nm
Transmission: Five-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 9.0L/100km, 239g/km CO2
Nissan Pathfinder ST
Engine: 2.5L four-cylinder turbodiesel, 140kW/450Nm
Transmission: five-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 9.0L/100km, 238g/km CO2