Isuzu D-Max VS Holden Colorado
- Reversing camera as standard
- Suspension upgrade
- Off-road capability
- No AEB
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Still noisy when driven hard
- Shines on Aussie roads
- Touchscreen tech across the range
- Tough-looking LSX lives on
- Plenty of torque, not much speed
- Cabin not particularly quiet
- No AEB
Last year heralded a raft of significant changes in Isuzu Ute Australia’s (IUA) D-Max and MU-X line-up.
In its first-quarter 2017 launch on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Isuzu officially revealed the range’s new 3.0-litre engine, new six-speed automatic transmission, and upgraded Aussie-specific suspension – all engineered for Australian drivers and our unique driving conditions – as well as a few nifty styling improvements, including a new front-end.
Well, this year Isuzu chose the Mt Cotton driver training centre, just outside of Brisbane, as the venue to let Australian motoring journalists loose in some new D-Maxs and MU-Xs. The changes this time around aren’t anywhere near as big as they were last year but Isuzu is hoping that extra safety features as standard, styling tweaks and value-added service intervals will help to build on growing buyer interest in its ute and SUV range.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
The Holden Colorado range has just been updated for the 2020 model year, but to describe it as “new” might be something of a stretch. In fact, even “refreshed” might be over-selling it.
And that’s because mechanically, the Colorado is identical to the 2019 model. And the cabin tech is unchanged, too.
Instead, the brand has focused on upping the standard inclusions on some models, and welcoming the special-edition LSX (which began life as a special edition) as a permanent member of the Colorado family.
The D-Max was already a solid choice for those interested in a functional family-friendly ute and it seems Isuzu might be justified in banking on the new LS-T’s premium appeal, as well as the range’s safety upgrades, extended service intervals and styling tweaks for even more sales.
What do you think of the new D-Max? Tell us in the comments below.
No news is still good news for the Colorado, which still drives well, carries a tonne and tows even more. It's undoubtedly starting to show its age in terms of modern safety tech, but it remains a strong contender in our booming ute segment.
Does this update get you excited about the 2020 model? Tell us in the comments below.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
Nothing has changed on the D-Max’s outside – it looks chunky, solid and purpose-built for adventure – but the LS-T’s interior now has that perforated leather on body-contact areas and soft-touch leatherette elsewhere. Inside the cabin remains functional but it now has a more premium feel.
While the design of the Colorado is almost entirely unchanged (the body work is mostly the same), the addition of the LSX as a permanent member of the family does up the Colorado’s tough-truck credentials.
The side-view especially - all alloys, sports bar and fender flares - does look both rugged and tough and despite the interior not quite living up the exterior hype, it’ll surely turn heads on the road.
Speaking of the interior, it's a refreshingly comfortable place to spend time, and while some elements (the gear shift in automatic cars especially) feel a little utilitarian, there's enough soft-touch plastic and - in the more expensive trims - leather seating to lift the ambience beyond that of a workhorse.
Overall, though, I don't think it quite matches the toughness of the Ford Ranger, which is put down almost entirely to the front-on view. The Holden Colorado is handsome enough, sure, but lacks the mean-mugging stare of its fiercest rival.
We didn’t have the opportunity to spend very much time in the D-Max this time around but it appears to have retained the previous generation’s easy-to-live-with attributes. Everything is clear to see (the 8.0-inch touchscreen is a good unit), easy to use (big buttons, dials and knobs abound) and the cabin is roomy, comfortable, and hard wearing. Build quality and fit and finish remains solid and touring-ready.
The D-Max's tray is 1552mm long (at floor level), 465mm deep and 1530mm wide across the top, 1105mm wide, between wheel arches. It has four tie-down points in the tray, one at each corner.
This D-Max has a 1024kg payload, 3050kg GVM, a maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg and 750kg unbraked.
No mater how many words like “lifestyle” or “adventure” you throw at a ute, practicality is still the aim of the game in this segment.
And on that front, the Colorado nails the brief, with every model in the range (bar one - a the LTZ+ - and that’s deliberate, with the lower number helping with novated leasing deals) able to carry 1000kg, with that number climbing to 1487kg in the LS auto 4X2.
Towing, too, ticks the right box, with the Colorado’s braked capacity a claimed 3500kg, thanks to the 2.8-litre diesel engine you’ll find under every single bonnet.
The Colorado rides on the same wheelbase (3096mm) no matter which variant you aim for, but obviously your other dimensions will shift. The width runs from 1870mm to 1874mm, the height from 1781mm to 1800m, length from 5083mm to 5361mm and the tray length from 1484mm to 1790mm.
Price and features
There are 23 variants in the D-Max line-up, ranging from the 4x2 single cab chassis SX manual ($28,600) through to the new LS-T (formerly known as the LS-Terrain), costing $54,700 (recommended retail price).
There are four variants in the crew cab (dual-cab) range – SX, LS-M, LS-U and the new LS-T (formerly known as the LS-Terrain), which we’ll focus on in this yarn. There are 4x4 and 4x2 variants for everything in the 2018 D-Max range; and manual or auto transmissions for a lot of the line-up everything.
The LS-T is auto only and costs $54,700 (recommended retail price). Available in 4x4 or 4x2 guise, the LS-T gets, above and beyond what came before, perforated leather on body-contact areas, soft-touch leatherette in other spots (also in LS-m and LS-U), 18-inch wheels, sat nav, roof-rails, and two USB charge points.
Safety upgrades include trailer sway control for all new D-Maxs – except the 4x2 low-ride SX single cab chassis manual – and rear bumper and reversing camera as standard on everything, except cab chassis models, but it is an option on those.
There are also three new exterior colours available for the D-Max: 'Magnetic Red Mica', 'Cobalt Blue Mica' and 'Graphite Grey Metallic'. The new MU-X also has the Magnetic Red Mica option.
Like most ute line-ups, the number of Colorados on offer here is pretty damn extensive. So take a deep breath as we dive in.
The entry point to the line-up has changed, with Holden deleting the manual gearbox option on the cheapest LS 4x2 Single Cab Chassis, which now starts at $31,690 with an automatic gearbox. The LS 4x2 Crew Cab Chassis is $36,690, and the LS 4x2 Crew Cab Pick-Up is $38,190.
For that spend, the LS will deliver a 7.0-inch touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, paired with a six-speaker stereo. You also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a USB charge point. Outside, you’ll find LED DRLs, powered body-colour mirrors, cloth seats and manual air-conditioning.
Next up is the LT 4x2 Crew Cab Pick-Up ($41,190 with an automatic gearbox) which adds 17-inch alloys, carpet flooring, a tailgate lock, fog lights and side steps.
Then it’s over to the LSX, which now joins the range as a permanent member, and which Holden describes as an entry-level tough truck, or “affordable tough”. That toughness arrivers via the 18-inch alloys, the gloss black front grille, the black sport bar and fender flares, and the Colorado sticker across the back. The LSX 4X4 Crew Cab Pick-Up is $46,990 in manual guise, and $49,190 with an automatic gearbox.
Next up is the LTZ, which is available as 4X2 Crew Cab Pick-Up with an automatic for $44,690, a 4X4 Space Cab Pick-Up for $51,190, or as a 4X4 Crew Cab Pick-Up ($50,490 for the manual, $52,690 for the automatic).
That trim earns you a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen with standard nav and a better seven-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and leather seats that are heated in the front. Outside, you get 18-inch alloys, Holden’s new DuraGuard spray-on tub-liner, power folding exterior mirrors, LED tail lights, rain-sensing wipers, a soft tonneau cover, side steps and an alloy sports bar.
Finally, there’s a Z71 4X4 Crew Cab Pick-Up, which is $54,990 (man) or $57,190 (auto), which earns you a soft-drop tailgate, 18-inch Arsenal Grey alloys, a new Sailplane sports bar and side rails, gloss black exterior door handles, mirrors and tailgate handle. You also get some style touches, like fender flares, a new front fascia, roof rails, hood decals and underbody protection.
Holden is also bundling its most popular accessories into new packs, called the Tradie Pack, the Black Pack, the Farmer Pack, the Rig Pack and the Xtreme Pack, with each of them coming with a voucher that reduces the cost of the Colorado itself.
Engine & trans
Just the once choice here; a 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel good for 147kW and 500Nm (or 440Nm with a manual) and can be paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, depending on the trim.
The option of a manual gearbox has been removed on some trims, most noticeably on the LS, which used to form the entry point to the range. Now, that car starts with an automatic, and costs $2200 more.
We only got the chance to spend very little time in any new models and we’d have to drive it for a week or more to get a good handle on real-world fuel consumption but Isuzu claims the D-Max gets through 7.9L/100km (combined cycle). It has a 76-litre fuel tank.
Holden claims combined fuel use of between 7.9 and 8.6 litres per hundred kilometres, depending on the vehicle setup, and whether it's two- or four-wheel drive. The Colorado’s C02 emissions are pegged at between 210 and 230g/km.
All Colorados arrive with a 76-litre fuel tank.
We only did brief drive loops on the launch, including a decent off-road course and towing a 1750kg boat with a D-Max on a twisting bitumen road, designed to replicate real-world driving conditions.
Running 20 psi (pounds per square inch) in our Bridgestone Dueler or Toyo Open Country tyres, the Isuzus handled everything on the 4WD loop with ease, including runs up and down steep greasy-muddy hills peppered with rocks and tree-root hazards, tight turns in between trees, plowing through mud puddles and more.
No surprise at its efficacy on rough terrain because it works off the proven 4X4 'Terrain Command' system, operated via a dial near the auto shifter, and which can be switched on the fly from 2High to 4High at speeds of up to 100km/h. To engage 4L you need to be stationary.
The LS-T is 5295mm long, 1860mm wide (excluding wing mirrors), 1855mm high (excluding roof rails) and has a 3095mm wheelbase and 1570mm track. It has a 12.6m turning circle. Kerb weight is listed as 2026kg.
It has 235mm ground clearance, 30 degrees approach angle, 22.7 degrees departure angle, and 22.3 degrees ramp-over angle. The LS-T's wading depth is 600mm.
The Isuzu ute retains the previous generation’s hill start assist (designed to hold gear during climbs) and hill descent control (which maintains engine-braking speed on downhills and is able to be regulated with acceleration or braking).
The D-Max’s underbody protection includes under-front steel plate skid/splash shield and steel plate guards on the sump, transfer case and fuel tank leading edge; and sheet steel under the fuel tank.
It has double wishbones and coil springs up front and leaf springs at the rear, reduced from a five-span spring set-up to three, which has resulted in a softer and more comfortable D-Max ride than before.
We had the opportunity to drive a 2017 and a 2018 model back-to-back through lumpy sections at different speeds and the newer model exhibited a clear advantage in the ride and handling stakes over its older version.
How does it drive? Ah, exactly the same as it used to.
Under the skin there are absolutely no changes for 2020. Same 2.8-litre Duramax diesel with a six-speed manual or a six-speed auto, same suspension, same steering. Short answer, it's the same.
But that’s not a bad thing. Holden’s local engineers had plenty of input in the Colorado when it was last majorly updated, including demanding it use the electronic power steering system taken from the Commodore program, and they're changes proved so successful, they have now been adopted by other markets.
The suspension was tuned here, too, and the final rubber-stamp approval testing was done in Australia.
The result is a vehicle that is pretty bloody good on our roads, if a little gruff-sounding in the cabin.
The steering inspires confidence, feeling direct enough for the segment, and more importantly, the Colorado enters corners in way that convinces you you're going to pop out the other side where you expect to, even at a fairly rapid clip.
It being Victoria, the weather for our drive program was predictably atrocious - with that sideways rain and bone-chilling cold the state is so famous for - and so Holden abandoned a more challenging 4WD section in favour of a rough muddy track lined with puddles big enough to double as water crossings and fallen trees that crunched under tyre as we climbed over them.
And while there was nothing that would seriously challenge the Colorado, we can attest to it handling the rougher stuff as well as at it did, too, at least for cars with 4WD, where low range and Holden's DuraGrip LSD/traction control system arrive as standard.
The engine isn’t going to win any drag races, but that’s probably not the point. The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel always feels like there’s plenty of grunt on offer, but it never translates into actually speed. More a marathon than a sprint, then, but a performance ute this ain't.
The point is this. This 2020 update entirely on the look and equipment of the Colorado, so if you like the old one, then you’ll like this new one.
The D-Max has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating from November 2016. As mentioned, noteworthy safety upgrades include trailer sway control for all new D-Maxs – except the 4x2 low-ride SX single cab chassis manual – and rear bumper and reversing camera as standard on everything, except cab chassis models, but it is an option on those.
Other standard safety gear includes six airbags (dual front, side and full-length curtain), ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, ESC, traction control and EBA (emergency brake assist), 'Hill Start Assist' and 'Hill Descent Control', plus three top-tether ISOFIX child-seat points in the rear seat.
Holden's Colorado wears a five-star ANCAP rating right across the range, with the full-marks score awarded in 2016.
The safety story starts with seven airbags, rear sensors, a reversing camera and Hill Descent Control, along with the usual site of traction and braking aids, all of which are offered across the range.
Spending big on the LTZ or Z71 unlocks extra kit, including front sensors, Forward Collision Alert (but not AEB - which is offered across the Ranger range) Lane Departure Warning and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
It has a five-year/130,000km warranty, with five years of roadside assist and five-year/75,000km capped price service costs. Servicing is recommended at 12-month/15,000km intervals. Prices are: $350 (at 12 months/15,000km), $450 (at 24 months/30,000km), $500 (at 36 months/45,000km) $450 (at 48 months/60,000km) and $340 at 60 months/75,000km – for a total cost of $2090.
Holden offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty across the Colorado range, with servicing required every 12 months or 12,000kms. The brand’s capped-price servicing program is published on its website, and the first seven services (covering seven years) will cost you a total $3033.