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Holden Colorado Z71 2019 review


Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

Holden is facing its biggest challenge yet, given its inexorable slide down the national sales charts since it ceased local car manufacturing in 2017. However, one roaring lion fighting this downward trend is the Colorado 4x4 ute.

In 2019 Holden’s venerable one tonne off-roader is attracting a growing number of customers, which now represent almost 10 per cent of the hotly contested 4x4 ute segment. In fact, the venerable Colorado has also clearly established itself as the best of the rest behind the dominant Hilux/Ranger/Triton trio.

So, given Holden’s apparent inability to find other vehicles within GM’s shrinking global empire that have equal appeal, we recently spent a week revisiting the Colorado to determine why it’s such a strong sales performer.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle is the Z71 dual cab with six-speed auto priced at $57,190. The Z71 used to be the top-shelf model in the Colorado range, commanding a $4500 premium over the LTZ on which it’s based.

However, the Z71 has since been usurped by the Z71 Extreme which, with its even more lavish equipment list, bumps the price up to $69,990. So, the Z71 now shares sub-prime status with rivals like Toyota’s HiLux Rugged X ($63,690) and Ford’s Ranger 3.2L Wildtrak ($62,760) but at a significantly lower price.

Unique Z71 features include Arsenal Grey Metallic 18-inch alloys with 265/60R18 tyres and full-size spare, ‘sailplane’ sports bar and side rails with Z71 graphics, unique soft tonneau cover, leather-appointed seat trim with heated front seats, Z71 embroidered front seat headrests, Z71 bonnet decals, black exterior door handles, mirrors and body side mouldings, unique front fascia with integrated nudge bar and gloss black grille and roof rails.

The Z71 scores Arsenal Grey Metallic 18-inch alloy wheels. The Z71 scores Arsenal Grey Metallic 18-inch alloy wheels.

Our test vehicle was also fitted with several items from the Genuine Holden Accessories range which would push the Z71 beyond $60K, including Safari bull bar, LED light bar and wheel arch flares.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

The Colorado is one of the larger and more imposing dual cab utes on this segment, perched 1800mm high and riding on a 3096mm wheelbase, with 5361mm overall length, 1874mm width and 12.7-metre turning circle.

It’s built for hard work or play with a rugged steel ladder-frame chassis, double-wishbone front suspension and leaf spring live rear axle. Like the Ranger, the rack and pinion steering is electrically power-assisted and front discs/rear drums provide ample stopping power.

Our test vehicle fitted with some Genuine Holden Accessories such as a Safari bull bar, and wheel arch flares. Our test vehicle fitted with some Genuine Holden Accessories such as a Safari bull bar, and wheel arch flares.

The dashboard has an intuitive and logical layout, sharing the chunky look and feel of its Chevrolet Silverado big brother. There’s generous space for driver and front passenger, with big grab handles on both A pillars to aid entry and exit.

The inside looks and feels like a Chevy Silverado. The inside looks and feels like a Chevy Silverado.

There’s no grab handles for rear seat passengers, but they do get one of the roomiest seats in terms of leg room. However, the relatively short height between floor and base cushion results in a high knee position for tall adults, who may also find limited headroom. Like all dual cabs there is seating for three adults, but we would suggest restricting this to two if tackling long trips.

The rear seat base cushion has a 60/40 split and both sides can swing up through 90 degrees and stow in a vertical position for extra cabin storage if required. This also reveals small storage pockets in the floor, with the right side loaded with wheel-changing equipment and the left side available for storing smaller items out of sight.

Rear passengers get one of the roomiest seats in terms of leg room. Rear passengers get one of the roomiest seats in terms of leg room.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Colorado’s Euro 5-compliant Duramax 2.8-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel is one of the best ute engines on the market. Designed and built by Fiat-owned engine maker VM Motori, it used to be  harsh and noisy until Holden’s excellent NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) upgrades in 2016 resulted in today’s much smoother and quieter Duramax 2 version.

With 147kW at 3600rpm and 500Nm of torque at 2000-2200rpm, these figures are still among the strongest in class making the Colorado a very capable all-rounder in both off-road performance and load hauling.

The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine makes 147kW/500Nm. The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine makes 147kW/500Nm.

The six-speed torque converter automatic also benefited from the wave of Holden’s NVH wand. It’s smooth and intelligent, with grade logic braking that automatically starts downshifting on steep descents to assist foot braking. This is a great feature when carrying or towing heavy loads, along with the option of manual sequential shifting when you need to hold certain gears, particularly in hilly terrain.

For off-road use the part-time, dual-range 4x4 transmission features a 2.62:1 low-range reduction and 36.4:1 crawl ratio, but there’s no rear diff lock.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Holden’s official combined figure is 8.7L/100km but after our 392km test over a variety of roads with mostly light loads the dash display was showing 10.7, which was close to our own figure of 11.2 calculated from actual fuel bowser and trip meter readings.

We can’t say that is peak efficiency, given that the benchmark 3.0 litre V6 engines in both the VW Amarok (10.7L) and Mercedes-Benz X350d (9.6L) offer superior fuel economy (based on our own road test figures) with more power and torque to boot. Even so, you could expect a useful ‘real world’ driving range of around 680km from its 76-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

The Z71’s standard kerb weight is 2143kg, but it was higher on our test vehicle given the various accessories fitted. Even so, based on Holden’s figures, the Z71’s 3150kg GVM rating allows for a genuine one tonne-plus payload of 1007kg.

It’s also rated to tow up to the class-benchmark 3500kg of braked trailer, but the maximum payload would have to be reduced by a massive 650kg to avoid exceeding the 6000kg GCM. And that would only leave 357kg of payload capacity, which would be barely enough to cater for a driver and three adult passengers with no luggage (even less with our accessories fitted).

Fact is, most folks don’t need to tow 3.5 tonnes, so our best advice is always to base your maximum braked towing weight on the tow vehicle’s GVM. In this case, the 3500kg threshold drops to a still substantial 2850kg and the payoff is that the Z71’s big 1007kg payload capacity is retained.

The cargo tub, which has four sturdy tie-down points, is 1484mm long and 1534mm wide with 1122mm between the wheel arches, which like most utes is too narrow to take a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet. The sports bar’s large ‘sailplane’ shroud adds style and useful shade for rear seat passengers. However, it also extends prominently into the load area, which may restrict the Z71’s utility if tall loads need to be carried.

Cabin storage includes a bottle holder and bin in each front door plus prominent cup holders on each side of the dash, which look like fold-away items but protrude permanently below the air vents on each side. There’s also a shallow storage bin in the centre dash pad, a single glovebox and a centre console offering two more cup holders, small oddments storage and a lidded box which doubles as an elbow rest. There’s also overhead glasses storage.

Both front and rear passengers get a bottle holder in each door. Both front and rear passengers get a bottle holder in each door.

Rear seat passengers get a bottle holder and small storage bin in each door plus flexible storage pockets on each front seat backrest. However, there are no cup holders to be found anywhere, including the central fold-down arm rest, which is a flaw in terms of passenger comfort and convenience.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

Like all post-2016 Colorado utes, the Z71 has a solid well-built feel. The ride is squeak and rattle free and NVH levels are pleasantly low for an all-terrain commercial vehicle.

Engine performance is amongst the best in class. Powerful and refined, it provides plenty of punch from standing starts, strong acceleration and excellent load-hauling power. Although its 500Nm of torque peaks within a very narrow band between 2000-2200rpm, it’s a very flexible engine which pulls strongly from as low as 1500rpm regardless of load.

The steering’s electrical power assistance is nicely weighted and responsive, along with reassuring braking and handling which add up to a positive and enjoyable driving experience.

We only have two criticisms. One is that the gearing is too tall for highway cruising, particularly under heavy loads, with only 1500rpm at 100km/h and 1700rpm at 110km/h in full lock-up. In both cases, the engine sounds and feels like it’s really labouring, given that peak torque is some 500rpm higher in the rev range and the auto stubbornly refuses to kick down a cog. A quick manual shift back to fifth gear proves this, as the engine instantly finds its much smoother sweet spot at 2000rpm.

The other is a lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel, which is a constant source of frustration for tall drivers. With the seat slid back far enough to provide adequate left knee clearance from the lower dash/console, the driving position is too straight-armed for our liking. Reach adjustment would fix this.

What’s it like for tradie use?

Unfortunately, we were prevented from doing our usual GVM test because the front of the Z71’s tonneau cover on our test vehicle was permanently attached with rivets, making it impossible to remove.

Even so, we have previously tested an LTZ Colorado auto with a one tonne-plus payload and it coped with admirable ease on a variety of roads and steep climbs. We have also towed 2.8 tonnes with a similar model and can attest to the Colorado’s all-round load carrying and towing attributes, which are well suited to a myriad of work and play duties.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Scored a five-star ANCAP rating when last tested in 2016, but with no AEB could only score a maximum of four stars if tested now. Even so, there’s seven airbags, ISOFIX child seat attachments on the two outer rear seating positions and three top tether child seat restraints.

There’s also rear park assist and a rear-view camera, plus an extensive electronic stability control menu that includes trailer sway control. The Z71 grade adds forward collision alert and lane departure warning plus front park assist, tyre pressure monitoring and rain-sensing wipers.

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

The Colorado deserves its hard-won status as an increasingly strong contender in the local 4x4 dual cab ute market. Our main criticisms are its lack of AEB (but it’s not alone there), overly tall highway gearing and no steering wheel reach adjustment. Beyond those gripes, it’s hard to fault and one of the best all-rounders in a fiercely competitive segment.

$57,190

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$57,190

Based on new car retail price