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Name game Holden Colorado

The new arrival has to make a mark in the light commercial market before the next generation model arrives.

The good looking Colorado takes over from the Rodeo, one of Holden's oldest model names (the other veterans are Statesman and Commodore).

Holden says it is well aware of the enormity of the marketing task it faces to get the Colorado name established and will kick off with a massive advertising campaign highlighting the ute's toughness.

Holden can no longer use the Rodeo name — it is owned by truck builder Isuzu, a long-term alliance partner of General Motors, but that relationship has ended and Isuzu wants to hang on to the name for itself.

Ironically, the new Colorado is still being built on Isuzu's production line in Thailand. As for the name, Holden says it did extensive market research and Colorado, despite its American links, was strongly accepted.

Holden's director of marketing Phillip Brook says the split with Isuzu has had an upside — it has given Holden the chance to step back and re-assess how it can tackle the tough light truck market.

While Holden is keen to push the Colorado as a `new' model there's a degree of smoke and mirrors here — it is under the skin at least, a five-year-old Rodeo albeit freshened with a new and more attractive Holden family face.

This latest model is due to be replaced in about two years with a slightly larger Colorado being developed by GM in Brazil which will be used in several General Motors global markets. While there is a South American connection, Australian models will continue to be built in Thailand.

The larger model will give Holden the added firepower it needs — one of the negatives of the previous Rodeo was its smaller size compared to its rivals like the Toyota HiLux.

The current Colorado meanwhile keeps Holden alive in the market and comes with sharp pricing and more standard equipment than the previous Rodeo, although the model range has been reduced to a more workable 16 models.

Brook says pricing has been maintained or lowered by up to $1500 over the outgoing Rodeo line up. The range opens at $19,990 for the DX 2.4l single cab chassis and stretches to $45,990 for the four-wheel drive LT-R turbo diesel.

He says there has been a big swing to four-wheel drive models which double as work trucks during the week and as sporty family fun vehicles at the weekend.

To capitalise on that Holden has a new sports variant called the LT-R which comes with all the trinkets including a sports bar, soft tonneau cover, rear park assist, side steps, smart alloy wheels and Bluetooth capability (on four-wheel drive models).

Overall, there's a choice of three body styles, three engines (the turbo models are easy to pick by their big bonnet scoop), two-wheel or four-wheel drive and two transmissions.

One of the Colorado's big selling points will be a three-tonne tow rating on the 3-litre turbo diesel four-wheel drive recreation models making it perfect for those with boats or horse floats while two-wheel workhorse versions are limited to 2 tonnes for the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol and 2.5 tonnes for the 3.6-litre petrol V6.

While the Colorado has become a more comfortable and versatile all-purpose vehicle it still misses out on safety features found in most cars.

The launch of the Colorado comes at a time when the US Institute for Highway Safety has questioned the safety of some utes in America because they lack side airbags or electronic stability control which can help steer a vehicle out of a skid.

Holden says fitting ESC is a difficult challenge which all ute manufacturers face because these vehicles are often heavily modified by owners which can change the vehicle's weight and weight distribution — two factors which have to be calibrated into an ESC system.

The Colorado has dual front air bags in all models, but none have been engineered for side air bags or ESC and only the LT-R and all LX four-wheel drive models have anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution — a safety feature Holden now leads the pack with.


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