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Holden Colorado LTZ vs Ford Ranger XLT vs Toyota HiLux SR5 2016 review: comparison

Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the Holden Colorado LTZ, Ford ranger XLT and Toyota HiLux SR5 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict

You can see it in the traffic. Utes now account for four of the Top 10 sellers and are the third biggest category behind small cars and SUVs.

The Toyota HiLux had a stranglehold on the workhorse market for three decades, but is losing its grip due to stronger competition.

The Ford Ranger has closed the sales gap to the perennial number one.

In their most popular configuration -- four-door 4WDs -- the Ranger has outsold the HiLux in four of the past seven months.

Now Holden has returned to the fray with a revitalised Colorado that brings big changes under the skin and a sharp price.

With the heavyweights now on a more even footing, welcome to the toughest three-way test we’ve done so far this year.

Ford Ranger XLT

  • 2016 Ford Ranger XLT. 2016 Ford Ranger XLT.
  • 2016 Ford Ranger XLT. 2016 Ford Ranger XLT.
  • 2016 Ford Ranger XLT | comparison 2016 Ford Ranger XLT | comparison

It’s easy to see why buyers are queuing for the Ford Ranger.

Its tough looks get them into the showroom, then they become intoxicated by the strong-sounding five-cylinder turbo diesel and plush car-like comfort from the steering and suspension. It feels like a Range Rover compared to the others.

The Ranger XLT - the most popular variant - comes better equipped than its peers.

Standard fare includes a tow bar, ute tub liner, rear view camera, a 12V power socket in the ute tray, ample USB and 12V power points in the cabin, as well as a household power socket to charge a lap top.

The touchscreen will be updated by the end of this year to include Apple Car Play as well as embedded navigation.

The digital speed display in the instrument cluster is a rarity among workhorse utes, and a welcome addition.

Radar cruise control and automatic lane-keeping are an $800 option (we’d take it for radar cruise mode) and, to date, remain exclusive to the Ranger in this class.

The materials might feel cheap (Ford calls it “hard wearing”) but the cabin is well presented and practical, with massive door pockets and a glovebox so huge you’ll never find spare change again.

The Ranger’s steering is not reach adjustable, but it has the equal most comfortable driver’s seat (an accolade shared with the HiLux).

Downsides? Brake feel could be improved; the front discs are equal smallest among this trio and yet the Ranger is significantly heavier than the others.

And a question mark is emerging over the Ranger’s long term durability. For now the evidence is anecdotal, but there is enough feedback from private buyers and fleets to arouse our suspicions.

Holden Colorado LTZ

  • 2016 Holden Colorado LTZ. 2016 Holden Colorado LTZ.
  • 2016 Holden Colorado LTZ. 2016 Holden Colorado LTZ.
  • 2016 Holden Colorado LTZ | comparison 2016 Holden Colorado LTZ | comparison

We are among the first to test the new Holden Colorado LTZ alongside its peers -- and it has largely lived up to our first impressions.

The Colorado’s cabin looks good and is practical but the materials are “hard wearing” rather than luxurious, even if there is carpet in the door pockets.

Welcome additions: four “auto up” power windows, a digital speed display, Apple Car Play and embedded navigation, a rear view camera with guiding lines that turn with the steering, and electric adjustment for the driver’s seat.

However, we’d swap the electric adjustment for better under thigh support; the Colorado driver’s pew feels too short and is not as comfortable as the others.

The update also brings “forward crash alert” (although not auto braking) and lane wander warning (although not lane-keeping), the only one among its peers with these safety aids standard.

On the road, the turbo diesel in the Colorado was the loudest and least refined among this trio -- contrary to our previous praise regarding improvements with this update.

But it also has the most mumbo. Although these are not performance vehicles, we did 0 to 100kmh testing to see how they compared, and the results surprised.

The Ford Ranger was slower (10.5 seconds) than the Colorado (9.8 seconds) while the HiLux trailed the pack (12.2 seconds).

Aside from the extra engine noise, the list of criticisms of the Colorado is relatively short. Below 60km/h on city and suburban roads the Colorado suspension is not as plush as the Ranger, but once at cruising speeds it comes close to matching the Ford for comfort in most conditions.

Other points of interest: the Colorado LTZ doesn’t get a tub liner, tow bar, or 240V power socket as standard, and there is only one USB port.

But the Colorado has an ace up its sleeve: price.

Toyota HiLux SR5

  • 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5. 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
  • 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5. 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
  • 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5 | comparison 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5 | comparison

As soon as you sit in the HiLux you can feel the step up in quality.

The steering wheel could be from a VW Golf GTI, with its bulging grips and leather stitching.

Uniquely among this trio, the steering wheel has height and reach adjustment and the driver’s seat is superbly comfortable, with ample adjustment and under thigh support.

All four windows have an “auto-up” function and, as with the Ranger, there is a household power socket to charge a lap top.

The SR5 is the only one among this trio with a chilled console above the glovebox, a sensor key with push button start, and tinted rear glass.

Interior presentation is best in class, although not everyone is a fan of the tablet-style touchscreen, which lacks an audio dial and Apple Car Play (Toyota has no immediate plans to add either) but comes with embedded navigation.

A missed opportunity: the screen in the instrument cluster lacks a digital speed display.

From this month onwards, the SR5’s price has risen by $400 to cover the cost of a tow bar which now comes standard (but, oddly, without a tongue). A tub liner is still an extra cost option and there’s no plan to add a power socket to the tray.

On the road the HiLux is quieter and more refined than the others here when the engine is at cruising revs, but there’s no mistaking it for a diesel once you put your foot into it.

As the only one here with hydraulic power steering (rather than electric) the HiLux has the best steering feel, which inspires confidence in corners. It also has the best braking performance and feel among this trio.

On smooth surfaces the suspension is fine but, once the road gets choppy, the heavy-duty suspension (which makes it so capable off-road) feels too firm.

In an unusual twist, the SR5 flagship is not as comfortable as the more affordable HiLux models on smaller rims and more cushioned tyres.

Verdict

Each of these pick-ups is so good we wouldn’t talk anyone out of buying any of them.

If you want superior off-road ability, the most refinement, and the best quality, reliability and fuel economy, look no further than the Toyota HiLux.

If you want the best equipped and most comfortable workhorse for the daily grind, the Ford Ranger is the pick.

However, the Toyota and Ford utes come with hefty prices.

Which is why the Holden Colorado wins this contest. It drives almost as good as a Ford Ranger, has a stronger (if noisier) engine, is relatively well-equipped, and a price that’s at least $8,000 cheaper than the other pair.

With the new Colorado, Holden has just flung a hand-grenade into the booming ute market.

Which of these three lifelong rivals is your pick? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Ford Ranger XLT specifications:

Likes

Tough looks
Car-like comfort and technology
Well equipped off the showroom floor

Dislikes

High price
Question mark over long term durability
Brakes need improvement

Click here to see more 2016 Ford Ranger pricing and spec info.

Holden Colorado LTZ specifications:

Likes

Apple Car Play standard
Drives almost as well as a Ford Ranger
Strong (if noisy) engine

Dislikes

Brakes are underdone
Driver’s seat needs more adjustment
Needs a tow bar, tub liner and more USB ports standard

Click here to see more 2016 Holden Colorado pricing and spec info.

Toyota HiLux SR5 specifications:

Likes

Superior quality
Refinement and fuel economy
Best off-road ability

Dislikes

No Apple Car Play
No digital speedo
SR5 suspension too firm

Click here to see more 2016 Toyota HiLux pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$35,990
Based on 1314 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$13,990
Highest Price
$49,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
SR 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,990 – 28,490 2016 Toyota HiLux 2016 SR Pricing and Specs
SR (4x4) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,300 – 45,990 2016 Toyota HiLux 2016 SR (4x4) Pricing and Specs
SR Hi-Rider 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $27,977 – 32,990 2016 Toyota HiLux 2016 SR Hi-Rider Pricing and Specs
SR5 (4x4) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $31,950 – 49,990 2016 Toyota HiLux 2016 SR5 (4x4) Pricing and Specs