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Holden Colorado 2020 review: LS Crew Cab 4x2

One of many manufacturers trying to steal some of Toyota's private and fleet business is Holden with its 4x2 Colorado range. (image: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradie score

3.5/5

There's no denying the Australian 4x4 ute market is one of the most diverse and competitive in the world right now, with 16 different models representing 13 different brands.

The 4x2 'workhorse' segment also plays host to some vigorous competition. There are currently 11 different models representing 11 brands competing for customers, led by the venerable Toyota HiLux which actually relies heavily on its 4x2 sales leadership to maintain its overall dominance of the local ute market.

One of those many manufacturers trying to steal some of Toyota's private and fleet business is Holden with its 4x2 Colorado range. We recently put one to the test, to see how it stacks up in this work-focused role.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The 4x2 Colorado dual cab ute is available in entry-level LS, mid-spec LT and top-shelf LTZ. Our test vehicle is the LS, which with the venerable 2.8 litre Duramax 2 turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic retails at $38,190. This pricing is competitive with major rivals like the Toyota HiLux WorkMate 4x2 Hi-Rider ($40,365), Isuzu D-Max SX 4x2 High-Ride ($38,700) and Ford's Ranger XL 2.2L Hi-Rider ($39,940).

Our test vehicle, resplendent in optional Dark Shadow paint ($550), was also fitted with a few goodies from Holden's genuine accessories range including soft tonneau cover ($690), towing package ($1030) and 'bedrug' polypropylene carpet cargo liner ($1140), which would push the total price north of $41K.

It’s an entry-level model with 16-inch steel wheels, 245/70R16 all-terrain tyres and full-size spare. (image: Mark Oastler) It’s an entry-level model with 16-inch steel wheels, 245/70R16 all-terrain tyres and full-size spare. (image: Mark Oastler)

Sure, it's an entry-level model with easy-clean vinyl floor, basic instrumentation and 16-inch steel wheels with 245/70R16 all-terrain tyres and full-size spare. However, the LS does also have numerous features welcome in a working role, including a limited slip differential.

Other standard features include a six-speaker MyLink infotainment system with steering wheel-mounted controls, 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and multiple connectivity. There's also a leather-wrapped steering wheel, manual air-con, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, rear park assist with reversing camera, LED daytime running lights, three 12-volt accessory outlets and more.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Unlike some competitors, there's no low-ride or high-ride options to choose from, as all 4x2 Colorados share the same suspension height as their 4x4 siblings. And, therefore, the same ground clearance which can prove handy on rugged worksites with difficult access.

Our test vehicle, like all Colorados, employs a rugged body-on-frame design, with steel ladder-frame chassis, 3096mm wheelbase, twin-wishbone coil spring front suspension, leaf spring live rear axle, electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering and front disc/rear drum brakes.

The LS shows a growing willingness amongst major players to lift the visual appeal of their 4x2 workhorses, with a more upmarket look and feel. (image: Mark Oastler) The LS shows a growing willingness amongst major players to lift the visual appeal of their 4x2 workhorses, with a more upmarket look and feel. (image: Mark Oastler)

The LS shows a growing willingness amongst major players to lift the visual appeal of their 4x2 workhorses, with a more upmarket look and feel. For example, there's no sign of the ubiquitous 'black beard' lower front bumper usually found at this level. The door mirrors are also body colour, plus there's some nice chrome/satin chrome highlights in the grille, door handles etc.

The interior continues this theme with a tasteful sprinkling of chrome and satin chrome highlights, to brighten what is usually 50 shades of grey. Contrasting light grey edge-trimming on the seat facings provides extra visual bling, but would also no doubt highlight dirt from grimy work pants.

Comfort for front and rear occupants is generally good, although tall people will find the rear seating uncomfortable on long journeys given the limited head room and low base cushion height relative to the floor. This creates a steeper upper thigh angle and therefore concentrates more weight on the bum and lower spine.

Unlike some competitors, there's no low-ride or high-ride options to choose from, as all 4x2 Colorados share the same suspension height as their 4x4 siblings. (image: Mark Oastler) Unlike some competitors, there's no low-ride or high-ride options to choose from, as all 4x2 Colorados share the same suspension height as their 4x4 siblings. (image: Mark Oastler)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The second generation of the 2.8 litre Duramax – the Duramax 2 – introduced in 2016 is a vast improvement on the original, mainly in the areas of noise, vibration and harshness.

This Euro 5-compliant, variable vane turbo-diesel still sets the torque benchmark for four-cylinder diesels in the local ute battle. Its bountiful 500Nm of pulling force at 2000-2200rpm is matched only by the Ford Ranger's twin-turbo 2.0 litre four and topped only by larger capacity six-cylinder 3.0 litre diesels found in Amarok and X-Class. Maximum power of 147kW at 3600rpm is also amongst the biggest numbers in class, so power and torque remain significant Colorado strengths.

The six-speed torque converter automatic, with its clutch-to-clutch operation and 32-bit controller, delivers smooth and precise shifts along with handy intelligent features like grade logic braking, that automatically starts downshifting on steep descents to assist with foot braking.

Our test vehicle is the LS, which with the venerable 2.8 litre Duramax 2 turbo-diesel engine and six-speed  automatic retails at $38,190. (image: Mark Oastler) Our test vehicle is the LS, which with the venerable 2.8 litre Duramax 2 turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic retails at $38,190. (image: Mark Oastler)

It also offers the option of sequential manual shifting, which can be handy when carrying and/or towing big loads in hilly terrain. The over-driven fifth and sixth ratios also assist with economical highway cruising.

The live rear axle, with 3.42:1 final drive ratio and limited slip differential,  should provide enough grip to extract the Colorado from most slippery situations, in partnership with the ESC's traction control.

How much fuel does it consume?

We completed more than 1,000km of testing, which included a sizeable stretch at peak GVM. Our first tank top-up came after 559km, with the dash display showing average consumption of 9.2L/100km. That wasn't far off our own figures, calculated from fuel bowser and trip meter readings, of 10.0 neat.

Our second tank fill came after another 547km, with the dash readout dropping marginally to 9.1 compared to our own figures of 9.9. Both of these 'real world' figures compare favourably with Holden's official combined figure of only 8.6 achieved in ideal lab conditions.

Fact is, any one tonner that can achieve genuine sub-10L economy when subjected to such a variety of roads and loads gets a big tick from us for efficiency. Based on the best of our figures, you could expect a driving range of around 770km from its 76-litre tank.

How practical is the space inside?

A major advantage for a 4x2 ute is that it's not burdened with the extra weight of a 4x4 transfer case, front differential, driveshafts etc. This results in a lower kerb weight and, as a result, a higher payload rating.

In the LS 4x2's case its 1968kg kerb weight, when deducted from its 3150kg GVM, results in a sizeable 1182kg payload, which exceeds its 4x4 equivalent by 97kg.

Like all Colorados, it's also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer, which is impressive in theory but less so in practice. For example, if you deduct 3500kg from the Colorado's 6000kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time), that leaves only 2500kg. And when you deduct the  1968kg kerb weight from that, you're left with 532kg of payload. That's less than half of its payload rating, or a massive 650kg reduction, which is not practical.

  • Interior storage options are limited, with a bottle holder and open bin in the base of each front door. (image: Mark Oastler) Interior storage options are limited, with a bottle holder and open bin in the base of each front door. (image: Mark Oastler)
  • Rear seat passengers only get a bottle holder and small storage bin in each rear door. (image: Mark Oastler) Rear seat passengers only get a bottle holder and small storage bin in each rear door. (image: Mark Oastler)

Our best advice is to base the maximum towing weight on the vehicle's 3150kg GVM. That results in a 650kg reduction in trailer weight to 2850kg, but the reality is most people don't need to tow more than 3000kg anyway and you get to keep all of your one tonne-plus payload.

The cargo tub is 1484mm long and 1530mm wide with four sturdy tie-down points, but with 1122mm between the wheel housings it won't take a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet. The headboard is a simple steel frame, with pivoting load retainers on each side.

Interior storage options are limited, with a bottle holder and open bin in the base of each front door, shallow storage tray in the centre of the dash-pad and a single glovebox. The centre console has two cup holders along with small storage nooks in front of the shifter, a coin holder and a lidded box at the back.

There are no flexible storage pockets on the front seat backrests and the pull-down centre armrest has no cup holders either. (image: Mark Oastler) There are no flexible storage pockets on the front seat backrests and the pull-down centre armrest has no cup holders either. (image: Mark Oastler)

Rear seat passengers only get a bottle holder and small storage bin in each rear door. There are no flexible storage pockets on the front seat backrests and the pull-down centre armrest has no cup holders either, so the rear stalls are short on storage and convenience features.

The 60/40-split rear seat base cushions can swing up through 90 degrees and be stored in a vertical position, if more internal carry space is required. This also reveals two hidden compartments beneath, which can store smaller items out of sight.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Like all Colorados, it's not hard to find a reasonable driving position, with the height adjustable steering wheel (reach adjustment would be even better) and a big left footrest which is well positioned and nicely angled. It doesn't feel different to drive than the 4x4 version, with good acceleration from standing starts and plenty of torque under load.

Handling and braking is acceptable for a truck of this size, weight and height, with low wind, engine and tyre noise on the highway. At these speeds the over-driven sixth gear in full lock-up results in just under 1700rpm at 100km/h and 1800rpm at 110km/h. While such low rpm is obviously great for fuel economy, the Duramax 2 doesn't feel quite as smooth or refined at these low revs as some rivals.

The interior has a tasteful sprinkling of chrome and satin chrome highlights, to brighten what is usually 50 shades of grey. (image: Mark Oastler) The interior has a tasteful sprinkling of chrome and satin chrome highlights, to brighten what is usually 50 shades of grey. (image: Mark Oastler)

What's it like for tradie use?

We had to lower the 1182kg payload rating by 70kg to 1112kg, to more than allow for the extra weight of the towing kit, cargo liner and tonneau. We then loaded 980kg into the cargo tub, which with our 100kg driver equalled a 1080kg payload, which was only about 30kg under our revised limit.

The rear leaf springs compressed a full 75mm - leaving barely 20mm of bump-stop clearance - and the nose rose 16mm. You could certainly feel every one of those 1080 kilograms, as the heavily compressed rear suspension seemed to have reached its load-supporting limit with almost nothing left to give in terms of wheel travel.

We also noticed some mild drivetrain shudder from standing starts, at about 1800-2000rpm and 20-30km/h. As this did not occur when the vehicle was unladen, we'd guess it may have something to do with a change in propeller shaft angle given such a big change in rear suspension height.

Its 1968kg kerb weight, when deducted from its 3150kg GVM, results in a sizeable 1182kg payload. (image: Mark Oastler) Its 1968kg kerb weight, when deducted from its 3150kg GVM, results in a sizeable 1182kg payload. (image: Mark Oastler)

Even so, there was no noticeable drop in steering and braking response and no shortage of grunt with 500Nm of torque on tap. It easily cleared our 2.0km 13 per cent gradient set climb, maintaining the 60km/h speed limit in third gear at 2300rpm all the way to the summit with only a small throttle opening and ample pulling power to spare.

Engine braking on the way down wasn't as strong in a manually-selected second gear, with the Duramax quickly spinning up to 4200rpm (4500rpm redline) on overrun and 70km/h before we had to prod the brake pedal. Not the best retardation we've experienced with a maximum payload on board, but far from the worst in class either.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Boasts a five-star ANCAP rating. However, the Colorado was last tested in 2016, so it could only score a maximum of four stars if tested now due to the lack of AEB. Even so, there's an extensive electronic stability control menu with hill-start assist, hill descent control, traction control and trailer sway control. There's also rear park assist, a rear-view camera and seven airbags, plus ISOFIX child seat attachments on the two outer rear seating positions and three top tether child seat restraints.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Five years/unlimited km warranty. Service intervals of 12 months/12,000km whichever occurs first. Capped-price for first five scheduled services varies between $319 and $499. Complimentary roadside assistance for up to five years from date of first registration, if serviced by a Holden dealer.

We've tested plenty of 4x4 Colorado dual cab utes and have never questioned their effortless load-carrying abilities at maximum GVMs. However, the 4x2 version, with its lighter kerb weight and higher payload rating, feels less comfortable performing this task.

Our test vehicle's mild drivetrain shudder from standing starts and use of virtually all of its rear suspension travel suggests some revisions might be in order for those who need to carry big payloads. It would be good to see this area improved, because it's the only significant criticism we have of what is otherwise a solid and competent 4x2 workhorse. ends.

$38,190

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradie score

3.5/5
Holden Colorado 2020 review

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Price Guide

$38,190

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data