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Holden Colorado LTZ 2018 review

The Colorado has an imposing presence. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

When Holden launched the RG Colorado in 2012, it was obvious General Motors had seriously underestimated the benchmark in Australia’s booming 4x4 ute market. Holden was left with no choice but to pull the thing apart, identify all the problem areas (and there were plenty), engineer solutions to each of them and put it all back together much better than before.

In 2016 it released the re-engineered and facelifted MY17 version and it must be said GM engineers did an excellent job. In fact, it’s such an improvement over the original that in many ways it feels like a different vehicle. It now has few (minor) flaws and with its competitive pricing represents one of the best all-rounders in this segment.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Colorado has an imposing presence with its 3096mm wheelbase, 5361mm length and 1874mm width. It sits 1800mm tall on a robust ladder-type steel chassis with double wishbone coil-spring front suspension and a leaf-spring live rear axle. Steering is rack and pinion with braking via front discs and rear drums. Turning circle is 12.7 metres.

The engineering enhancements evident in the MY17 model are extensive, including revised suspension tuning with new specification tyres, new body-mounting system, electrically-assisted power steering, substantial wind noise reduction and major engine and transmission refinements.

The engineering enhancements evident in the MY17 model are extensive, including revised suspension tuning with new specification tyres. (image credit: Mark oastler) The engineering enhancements evident in the MY17 model are extensive, including revised suspension tuning with new specification tyres. (image credit: Mark oastler)

A glaring omission is (still) the absence of steering wheel reach adjustment. Apart from that, driver and front passenger space and comfort is pretty good, although the rather flat and firm front seats still feel like you’re sitting on them rather than in them.

There are no grab handles on the B-pillars to assist rear passengers to climb aboard. Rear seat room in most dual cabs (apart from giant US pick-ups) is usually pretty tight for adults and the Colorado is no exception.

Rear seat room in most dual cabs is usually pretty tight for adults and the Colorado is no exception. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Rear seat room in most dual cabs is usually pretty tight for adults and the Colorado is no exception. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Knee room is adequate, the door pull/armrests are well positioned, and there’s at least 50mm of head room for tall adults. However, the bench seat’s base cushion is a tad short for thigh support and it’s relatively close to the floor, resulting in raised knees and upper thighs which tends to concentrate more body weight on the lower spine. It will carry three rear passengers at a squeeze, but for any trips longer than the local shops we’d recommend keeping it as a four-seater.

 

How practical is the space inside?

With a 2121kg kerb weight and 3150kg GVM, the Colorado is a genuine ‘one tonner’ with an impressive 1029kg payload rating.

It’s also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer, but with a GCM of 6000kg that would leave a legal payload of only 379kg. In other words, that big 1029kg payload would have to be reduced by a whopping 650kg to avoid exceeding the GCM, which is totally impractical of course.. 

We see lots of claims about 3.5 tonne towing capacities in the dual cab ute market, which look great in advertising and brochures but aren’t practical in the real world. In this case, better to base the Colorado’s towing limit on its 3150kg GVM. That means a 650kg drop in braked trailer weight to 2850kg, but you get to keep the Holden’s big 1029kg payload capacity without exceeding the 6000kg GCM.

The cargo bed is 1484mm long and 1534mm wide with 1122mm between the wheel arches, which like most utes (except the Amarok) is too narrow to take a standard Aussie pallet. There are four sturdy tie-down points for securing loads, but we would strongly recommend fitting a bed liner (should be standard at this model grade) as the painted surfaces can be easily scratched during loading and load carrying.

The cargo bed is 1484mm long and 1534mm wide with 1122mm between the wheel arches. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The cargo bed is 1484mm long and 1534mm wide with 1122mm between the wheel arches. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Storage options for front seat occupants include a bottle holder and storage pocket in each door. The centre console has a small open storage cubby in front of the gearshift, two central cupholders and a lidded box which doubles as an arm-rest. There’s also a single glove box and open storage pocket in the centre of the dash-pad. Rear seat passengers get a drink bottle holder and storage pocket in each door, plus flexible storage pockets on the back of each front seat.

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

Our test vehicle was the LTZ with six-speed automatic transmission starting at $52,690. While that can’t match the smaller Mitsubishi Triton Exceed ($47,790) it undercuts numerous similar-sized dual cab 4x4 rivals including the Isuzu D-Max LS-T ($54,200), Nissan Navara ST-X and Mazda BT-50 GT ($54,490), Toyota Hilux SR-5 ($56,440) and Ford Ranger XLT ($57,690).

The LTZ costs $3500 more than its lesser-equipped LT sibling and for that you get lots of extra features including chrome highlights inside and out, 18-inch alloys with 265/60R18 tyres and a full-size alloy spare, alloy sports bar, soft tonneau cover, six-way adjustable electric driver’s seat, tyre pressure monitoring system, power adjustable and heated door mirrors, New 'MyLink' entertainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a big 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and seven-speaker premium audio, forward collision alert with head-up warning and lane departure warning to name a few. Leather-appointed seat trim with heated front seats are optional.

The new 'MyLink' entertainment system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The new 'MyLink' entertainment system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Prior to the MY17 upgrades the Duramax 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which is actually designed and built by Fiat-owned engine maker VM Motori, was harsh, noisy and only Euro 4-compliant. However, the reworked Duramax 2 version meets Euro 5 standard and the NVH issues have largely been eliminated.

The end result is a much smoother, quieter and more responsive engine. There’s been no increase in power (147kW at 3600rpm) or torque (500Nm at 2000-2200rpm) but that was not part of the refinement objectives, as those figures have always been amongst the best in class.

The Duramax 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 147kW/500Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Duramax 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 147kW/500Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The six-speed automatic has a new torque converter to balance out undesirable torsional vibrations and its overdriven fifth and sixth gears maximise fuel economy at highway speeds. There’s also the option of manual sequential shifting and what GM calls grade logic braking, which automatically starts downshifting on steep inclines to assist with foot braking.

A dial on the centre console controls the part-time dual-range 4x4 transmission, which features a 2.62:1 low-range reduction and low 36.4:1 crawl ratio, but an electronic locking rear differential is not included as standard or available as an option.

How much fuel does it consume?

Holden claims a combined figure of 8.7L/100km but we didn’t get near that during our test which included a variety of roads and loads. The dash display was showing 10.1L/100km which was very close to our own figures of 10.67L/100km crunched from actual trip meter and fuel bowser readings. 

Based on our figures, which are about average for 4x4 dual cab utes, you could expect a driving range of around 700km from its 76-litre tank.

What's it like to drive?

The first thing you notice is refinement. The MY17 Colorado is much smoother and quieter than before, along with sharper steering response, improved handling and ride quality when empty or fully-loaded. 

In city and suburban driving with a light load on board, the Duramax 2’s 500Nm of torque combined with the intelligent six-speed auto ensures good throttle response and brisk acceleration, that belies the vehicle’s two-tonne-plus kerb weight.

The new electrically power-assisted variable ratio steering is a big improvement on 2012. It’s better than the Navara but the changes in steering wheel turning weight between low and high speeds are not as defined or precise as the benchmark Ranger or Amarok systems.

The new electrically power-assisted variable ratio steering is a big improvement on 2012.

Noise suppression is vastly improved, with the most noise at highway speeds now coming from minor wind swirl around the large door mirrors, which is a common trait in utes. Conversations can take place without raised voices. 

With its overdriven fifth and sixth gear ratios, the Colorado will cruise along the highway in top gear using only 1600rpm at 100km/h and 1750rpm at 110km/h. However, given that maximum torque is at 2000-2200rpm the top cog still feels too tall, with the engine grinding along below what feels like its ‘sweet spot’ at around 2000rpm.

We secured 830kg in the cargo bed which with our two-man crew equalled a payload just under the 1029kg peak rating. The rear leaf springs compressed 62mm and the nose rose just 13mm, resulting in a very level static ride height. The Colorado’s excellent load-carrying ability was confirmed on lumpy back roads, with excellent bump absorption and a smooth ride with no discernible loss of steering feel, lateral control or braking response. The LTZ’s tyre monitoring system provides added peace of mind.

We secured 830kg in the cargo bed which with our two-man crew equalled a payload just under the 1029kg peak rating. (image credit: Mark Oastler) We secured 830kg in the cargo bed which with our two-man crew equalled a payload just under the 1029kg peak rating. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

With 500Nm of torque, it stormed up our 13 per cent gradient 2.0km set climb, maintaining the 60km/h speed limit at 2200rpm in third gear with the right foot barely touching the accelerator. We couldn’t rely on the auto’s grade logic braking on the way down though, as it wouldn’t shift down fast enough or far enough to restrain its one tonne payload. Instead we manually selected second gear but still had to brake several times to stop the engine spinning past its 4500rpm redline on over-run. Engine braking was about average for this segment.

Our only major criticism is the lack of steering wheel reach adjustment. Given segment leader Toyota has now included such a welcome feature in its HiLux, there can be no more excuses for its closest rivals. With the seat’s base cushion slid back far enough to provide adequate knee clearance from the edge of the lower dashboard, we have always found the Colorado’s driving position too straight-armed for our liking. Reach adjustment would fix this.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Colorado scores a maximum five star ANCAP rating, with lots of passive safety features, including a total of seven airbags plus ISOFIX child seat attachments on the two outer rear seating positions and three top tether child seat restraints. 

Active safety includes rear park assist and a reversing camera, plus a comprehensive electronic stability control menu including trailer sway control, but no AEB. The LTZ grade adds front park assist, forward collision alert, land departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring and rain-sensing wipers.

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

Holden offers a three year/100,000km warranty, and capped price servicing runs to $369 for the first four scheduled service,s comprising, nine months/15,000km, 18 months/30,000km, 27 months/45,000km and 36 months/60,000km, whichever occurs first.

There's no locking rear diff, so the RG Colorado would probably not be the first choice for hard-core off-roaders. However, these days 4x4 dual cab utes are designed to serve in more roles than just extreme bush driving. And in that context the price-competitive MY17 version is now one of the best all-rounders, particularly if you need to regularly carry big payloads or tow heavy trailers. GM’s engineering once-over in 2016 has turned a rough old bus into the refined and competent performer it should have been from the start. So if you’re in the market for a new 4x4 dual cab ute, this one now deserves a test drive.

Has Holden done enough to make the Colorado a HiLux or Ranger equal? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

$27,990 - $66,990

Based on 297 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$27,990 - $66,990

Based on 297 car listings in the last 6 months