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Holden Colorado Z71 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Bill McKinnon road tests and reviews the Holden Colorado Z71 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Bill McKinnon road tests and reviews the Holden Colorado Z71 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Holden's upgraded one-tonner gets safety, multimedia and chassis weaponry to take on the top-sellers.

The Falcon v Commodore game is over. Now a completely different, though no less intense, rivalry has taken its place — the 4x4 Ute Wars are under way, with the once untouchable Toyota HiLux under massive attack from Ford's Ranger.

In September, the big Ford toppled the Toyota in sales and, year to date, now trails it by fewer than 100. Both makers are hammering each other with discount deals but when October numbers are crunched in a few weeks, the Ranger should hit the front.

Holden wants a bigger piece of the action for its Colorado, which is a distant fourth on the sales charts.

A comprehensive safety, multimedia and chassis update for the 2017 model gives Holden's one-tonner the firepower to be a credible alternative.

Design

Holden refers to 2017 Colorado as a truck, not a ute. Truck sounds tougher, and in this class toughness — real or perceived — is currency because the audience is nearly all blokes and the context is usually work as well as play.

So Colorado gets a more toned, aggressive front end with the top spec Z71 we're testing today looking suitably mean and dangerous in Absolute Red with black detailing, including fat stripes on the bonnet, and gloss black 18-inch alloys.

Inside, a new dash and centre console are wrapped in what Holden calls "sophisticated materials, fabrics and finishes". That would be relative to the previous model, which was about as grim, grey and low-rent as they come, even by the light commercial segment's decidedly non-salubrious standards.

True, the 2017 Colorado is better finished and similar to the Ranger in its durable decor design approach, but a top-spec HiLux SR5 or Mitsubishi Triton Exceed cabin feels like an Audi in comparison. They have a much more sophisticated, stylish, high quality ambience, as you should expect given pricetags that now nudge an ambitious $60,000.

Holden's MyLink multimedia features Apple/Android phone smarts. Voice control for navigation, phone and audio gets it right more often than most. It was hit-and-miss at reading the signal from my iPod, plugged in via USB.

I'm 183cm and found the driving position restrictive and uncomfortable. You sit close to the floor and there's no reach for the steering wheel, so you have to push the seat forward and put up with tight legroom. When getting in and out you have to contort your legs under the steering wheel and it's all a bit of a struggle. The seat itself is hard, flat and uncomfortable.

Tractor-like grunt available from idle and an effortless mid-range allows you to chug around town using minimal revs.

The other main annoyance, especially in the work context, is insufficient storage close at hand, especially the console. Pockets in the front of the seats are handy but the door bins are too small and the open, unlined tray atop the dash is too shallow.

There's plenty of rear legroom (because the driver can't use much front seat travel) and you sit on a low bench, slightly knees up. The tub has no 12V outlet or liner, even at Z71 level, a towbar is optional and the tonneau has a fiddly, tedious fastening arrangement. A tonne of dust is sucked into the tub on a dirt road.

Around town

The 2.8-litre turbo diesel still has a slightly gravelly texture and tone when accelerating from rest. It's not quite as smooth or quiet as the HiLux's 2.8-litre four.

It's stronger than the Toyota engine, though, with tractor-like grunt available from idle and an effortless mid-range that allows you to chug around town using minimal revs and with a relatively light thirst.

The brakes powerful, progressive and easily modulated on dirt.

Driving for economy around Sydney, I achieved 8-9L/100km. The six-speed's shift mapping is more seamless than previously, though it's still prone to an occasional needless downshift when you touch the brakes. A supple low-speed ride just isn't doable in a truck designed to carry heavy loads but the Colorado is reasonably forgiving and less lumpy and jostly than the HiLux.

On the road

Ride comfort improves with speed. On a rough country road at 100km/h, the Colorado is among the better one-tonners, with well-controlled, compliant suspension that delivers secure roadholding and absorbs big hits properly rather than sending them thumping through the body.

Electric steering, with a faster rack for 2017, is tactile and precise and the brakes powerful, progressive and easily modulated on dirt.

Smooth and almost silent in cruise mode, the 2.8 easily averages 7-8L/100km on the highway. It muscles up when you need overtaking speed, too, with greater enthusiasm than the HiLux.

Off-road, it's similarly impressive. However there's no locking rear differential or protection for the transfer case. Maximum payload is 1000kg.

Verdict

The substantial drivetrain and chassis engineering update gives the Colorado the performance, ride and handling to move ahead of HiLux and argue with Ranger for best-in-class status as a drive.

However the cabin still says $20,000 rather than almost $60,000 and it misses out on vital safety features such as blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking.

Cramped and uncomfortable, the driving position is straight out of a very old and very primitive truck.

What it's got

Seven airbags, stability control, trailer sway control, eight-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth, digital radio, voice control, USB port, front and rear parking sensors, remote power windows and starting, rear camera with dynamic guidelines, collision warning, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitor, ISOFIX and tether strap anchors, 18-inch alloys, heated front seats, leather trim and soft tonneau cover.

What it hasn't

Automatic emergency braking, radar cruise, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, towbar, locking rear diff.

Ownership

Service intervals of nine months/15,000km, costing $2623 over 63 months/105,000km.

 

Would you consider a Colorado ahead of a Hilux or a Ranger? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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

Pricing guides

$34,990
Based on 602 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$13,990
Highest Price
$55,555

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LS (4X2) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $14,900 – 21,010 2016 Holden Colorado 2016 LS (4X2) Pricing and Specs
LS (4X4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $18,600 – 25,850 2016 Holden Colorado 2016 LS (4X4) Pricing and Specs
LS-X (4X4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $21,800 – 29,590 2016 Holden Colorado 2016 LS-X (4X4) Pricing and Specs
LT (4X2) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $20,300 – 27,610 2016 Holden Colorado 2016 LT (4X2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$13,990

Lowest price, based on 584 car listings in the last 6 months

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