The Holden Colorado, an entrant into the highly competitive ute (or truck, as some prefer to call it) space, has been with us since 2012 whereupon it emerged in its second generation. For the 2017 model year, it has undergone quite a substantial rework to make it a more rounded package, most of it done locally too.
After all, similar offerings such as the strong selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger have better embraced its role, especially at the higher end of the price spectrum, as a lifestyle vehicle as well as one purchased purely for utility.
As with all trucks, the newly updated Colorado comes with a choice of different body styles resting atop a ladder frame chassis, all propelled by a 2.8-litre turbodiesel that we’ll get into shortly. A single cab kicks off the range, followed by another longer space cab and crew cab variant that also foregoes the rear flat bed.
From there, the five-seater ‘Pickup’ body style that come in base LS, mid-tier LT, higher-specified LTZ, an range-topping Z71 variants, mixed in with a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 drivelines. As we progress up each grade, improvements to the equipment as well as comfort levels follow, so too does the visual flair and included safety features.
Will it be enough, though, to combat the equally varied and perhaps more widely known flavours of the aforementioned Toyota and Ford, but also from the likes of the Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max, and Volkswagen Amarok?
“…vastly improved compared to the outgoing model, and, thanks to its improved front styling should have little trouble luring buyers back into Holden showrooms.” - The Motor Report
Wearing an updated fascia that lends it a better resemblance to the other vehicles in Holden’s current portfolio, the Colorado fits in rather naturally with its stablemates.
Calling the Holden a generic looking pick-up is a fair assessment of the exterior impression, but not one that’s necessarily meant as a negative. Rather, it’s formulaic, with a high ride height, four doors, and a big cargo bed out back.
The wheels are easiest way to distinguish different Colorado grades, and here Holden has fitted even the midrange LTZ with a set of quite fetching 18-inch alloys. The higher-end Z71’s wheel, however, receive a gloss black finish (along with many other cosmetic additions) while the less expensive LT come with 17-inch 6-spoke spinners.
Engine and Drivetrain
“Holden says the engine supplied with the automatic has more power at low speeds, but on the road it feels much the same as in the manual.” - WhichCar
A single 2.8-litre four-cylinder Duramax turbodiesel handles propulsion duties in the Colorado, no matter the variant or drivetrain option chosen. Naturally, you’ll be able to select between 4x2 or 4x4 models, with a choice of a 6-speed manual available as standard or a 6-speed automatic.
What differs, though, is the torque output depending on the transmission choice. Power is capped at a solid 147kW, peaking at 3,600rpm while maximum torque is delivered at 2,000rpm - 440Nm for the manual and 500Nm for the automatic, a useful 60Nm that the three-pedal Colorado misses out on.
However, as there is more powertrain energy loss with with torque converter automatics, the extra torque on offer here is hardly pronounced. The engine itself, though, is decently smooth and an eager puller at all speeds. It’s real strength, though, is its strength. You’ll get no option for a different engine, but you’ll very likely not be disappointed by this Duramax as it does punch above its weight.
“…designers have aimed to dramatically lift the quality, feel and presentation of the cabin. Fit and finish is excellent, while the use of materials suits the demographic of the vehicle quite well…” - CarAdvice
As a crew cab pick-up, there’s naturally plenty of space inside, especially for the front two occupants, where the sheer width can mean flailing arms without obstruction or needing to apologise to the person next to you.
Life in the rear is also rather free of impediment with regard to that same sheer real estate. In comparative terms, it’s on par with the likes of the Ranger and HiLux, the main targets to which the Colorado is tasked with taking a chunk out of. Both the cloth and leather trimmed seats offer similar levels of support and comfort, but you shouldn’t expect it to hold you when tackling some sharper curves.
Things can get slightly bouncy when on more corrugated surfaces, but this is to be expected for a pick-up developed primarily for utility, especially when unladen, as its suspension was designed to handle heavier loads above its rear wheels.
While all those points are positive and err on the correct side of compromise, they are ultimately unsurprising. Pick-up’s have been taking consistent steps toward satisfying the would-be SUV or crossover buyer insofar as replicating the sensations (or lack thereof) and amenities found in a normal passenger car.
What is stand-out about the new Colorado is the persistently improved sense of perceived quality which is far better than what came before. There’s a newfound sophistication to how it can now carry itself that’s amplified when inside the cabin, especially in the better specified LTZ and Z71 variants.
This, coupled with the smoother operation of the transmission, more forgiving suspension, and car-like sound insulation, and the whole package goes much further than you’d expect in convincing you just how rounded this brute has become.
Behind The Wheel
“…it’s the nuts and bolts — the bits hidden under the car’s skin — that have the most profound effect on the new Colorado, turning it from a loud, rattly, unwieldy tank into a quiet, refined, fun-to-drive ute,” - Motoring.com.au
With the same basic ingredients, expecting the 2017 Colorado to somehow bring genuine surprise and delight to anyone who has experienced the older version is a little unfair. That said, there are some noteworthy improvements.
The steering is perhaps the most evident, with it now being quicker and lighter overall while able to weigh up nicely when at higher speeds for a more stable cruise. At lower speeds, the easier manipulation is said to translate to an artificial sense of added directness and agility, especially for tiny adjustments just off centre.
As we covered in the section above, the improvements made to the Colorado haven’t washed away its pick-up like tendencies, but it has put it in contention with class leaders in terms of sheer driving ease, refinement, and dynamics.
Off the road, the Colorado’s inherent positives place it in good enough stead with any other pick-up out there. It’s still as hardy as it ever was, its all-wheel drive system with limited slip differential has little trouble dealing with low-grip situations though the lack of a locking diff (even as an option) may be problematic for some, and the improved ride pays dividends here too.
Safety and Technology
“What’s missing? Dual zone air-conditioning isn’t available on any model and there’s only one USB port for the whole cabin (although there are three 12V sockets).” - CarsGuide
ANCAP awarded the Holden Colorado a 5-star safety rating when it tested it in 2016. As standard offers a full complement of airbags (7 in total), including dual frontal, side chest, and curtain airbags as well as a driver’s knee airbag. In addition, there’s a reversing camera and electronic stability control.
Step up to the LTZ or Z71, though, and more advanced features become available such as lane departure warning and forward collision alert, both of which rely on outward-facing cameras for detection.
The most tech-focused convenience feature that occupants will be aware of, however, has to be the new infotainment system. Integrated into the centre stack, this 7.0-inch touchscreen operated unit boasts support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, augmenting the experience with smartphone-assisted media and navigation functions.
The 2017 Holden Colorado doesn’t seem like that much a sweeping change over the ostensibly highly similar one it replaces. But these incremental alterations have amounted to a substantially improved product when it all comes together.
Simply put: the pre-update Colorado was lacking in enough areas to allow rivals like the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger to charge ahead. This new version, though, has given Holden a much needed boost to bring it back in prime contention.
Motoring.com.au - 80/100 - “There’s no doubt Holden has delivered a much-improved ute, and the Colorado has certainly made significant strides forward in terms of ride, handling and powertrain refinement. The improved cabin, enhanced tech and additional safety features are welcome developments and, despite being quieter, smoother and more relaxing to drive, the Colorado has given away none of its all-round capability either.”
CarAdvice - 8/10 - “…we’ve now spent well over 1000km behind the wheel of the new Colorado (both in pre-development and production specifications) and have come away very impressed. In isolation it feels fantastic, […] the new Colorado represents a huge step forward from the previous model.”
WhichCar - 4/5 - “…a well equipped ute with an excellent diesel engine and the option of dual-range four-wheel drive. It carries and tows big loads well, and for a ute it is now quiet to ride in and it steers nicely. Inside, all Colorados have excellent smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.”
The Motor Report - 4/5 - “The face is more assertive than before, the interior oozes quality where the last one underwhelmed, and refinement has been improved. To be blunt, Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux ought to be worried about what the 2017 HoldenColorado update has achieved. The new model is, finally, something for Holden buyers to get excited about.”
CarsGuide - 4/5 - “This long overdue update has created a better truck with more equipment and, on most models, a sharper drive-away price. Holden has effectively eliminated the reasons not to buy a Colorado. The Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger won't have the ute market to themselves much longer.”
WheelsMag - “The updated Colorado is the car that should have arrived in 2012. Big improvements to refinement and driving dynamics ensure Holden’s dual-cab off-roader now has a fighting chance in an increasingly competitive segment.”