Car reviews - Holden - Colorado
On-road manners, steering calibration, throttle response, unladen suspension comfort, power delivery via LSD
Room for improvement
Stiff brake feel, flat seats, hard cabin plastics even on high-end variants, LSD may deter hardcore off-roaders
Holden’s accessible Colorado makes for a user-friendly drive experience
24 May 2018
HOLDEN has been doing it tough of late. Following the death of the locally built VF Commodore that’s been replaced by an imported model, and a lukewarm response to newer models such as the all-new Equinox SUV, sales for the lion brand have been on a steady decline.
The saviour for Holden may come in the form of the Colorado, the brand’s competitor in the booming pick-up segment, which is fast becoming the vehicle of choice for Australians from all walks of life.
The Colorado occupies fifth place overall in the combined 4x2 and 4x4 pick-up segment, however the brand has said that it sees no reason why a top-three sales result can’t be achieved.
Overall Colorado sales have slid 16.5 per cent in 2018 despite the pick-up segment increasing 7.4 per cent, however a new ad campaign is set to put the spotlight back on the Thai-built one-tonner.
Visibility notwithstanding, does the Colorado have what it takes to snag a top-three spot in the hugely competitive pick-up market?
Given the competitiveness of the ute segment, manufacturers regularly update their offerings to keep them fresh. Isuzu Ute, Mazda and Nissan have all introduced updates in 2018, while Ford has announced a late-life refresh for its Ranger due in September.
The Colorado has remained the same since a major update in August 2016 ushered in massive changes for the model that debuted in Australia in mid 2012.
A major facelift, a centrifugal pendulum absorber torque convertor and suspension upgrades were among the raft of changes, and may well see the Colorado through until the next-generation version arrives, which will likely be after the turn of the decade.
According the Holden vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone, the only changes he would like to see on the Colorado is a greater range of accessories, so internal confidence in the vehicle’s capabilities are sky high.
When it was updated, Holden put a focus on making the Colorado a liveable daily driving proposition, and driving the car around the Yarra Valley on Melbourne’s outskirts this week, Holden’s intentions are notable.
The Colorado has arguably the best road manners of any one-tonne ute on the market, with a steering rack calibration that makes the vehicle feel both smaller and lighter than its rivals.
Feedback is light at low speeds and well-weighted on the road, while also being responsive, with a steering rack borrowed from the VF Commodore that allows for a smaller lock-to-lock steering ratio.
Throttle input is also car like, with a hefty dollop of torque immediately available from even a slight touch of the pedal. Acceleration is average for the segment, but the 500Nm of torque (equal with the upcoming Ranger Raptor for most from a four-cylinder pick-up) gives it a more than adequate punch.
Braking proved less comfortable, with a stiff brake pedal that requires too much effort to operate.
The engine’s power and torque is also channelled well to the ground via a limited-slip differential (LSD) mounted on the rear axle, which eliminates wheel slippage even when accelerating through corners, and provides a level of on-road handling that rivals with a locking differential cannot.
Even off-road, the LSD works well. During a drive through a very wet Toolangi state forest with full-pressure highway tyres, steep, muddy inclines were comfortably dealt with using nothing more than a consistent and modest dose of right foot.
A fully locking differential may be preferable for those who push their vehicle to the limit, but for the majority of off-roading and on-road driving, the LSD is a commendable alternative.
Fuel consumption on the drive averaged between 9.0 and 10.0 litres per 100km, not far off the 8.7L/100km official combined figure.
In our time in the car, we sampled the six-speed automatic derived from the same transmission in the VF Commodore, which Holden has calibrated well for the turbo-diesel pick-up.
Shifts are smooth and intelligent, and when braking downhill the transmission automatically kicks down gears to let the engine’s torque aid in braking, which Holden calls grade braking.
Another area for improvement in the Colorado’s 2016 update was its suspension calibration, which was bolstered by digressive shock absorbers, a bigger anti-roll bar and revised spring rates.
Being a suspension engineer for a pick-up must be one of the toughest jobs in the automotive industry, as you have to balance on-road comfort with a competitive payload and towing capacity.
Holden’s engineers have done well with the Colorado’s suspension, with a comfortable ride on and off-road, even with an unladen tray. Bodyroll around corners is also kept to a minimum, with the revised anti-roll bars no doubt playing a part.
Each variant also has a payload of more than one tonne, while braked towing capacity is rated at 3500kg across the range.
Pick-up interiors tend to be on the unpolished side, and the Colorado is no different, with plenty of hard plastics through.
The dashboard layout is a bit blocky, but offers good ergonomics, and the 8.0-inch touchscreen is a solid interface with lag-free operation and a satellite-navigation system that is easy to use and look at.
Only the LTZ and Z71 come with the 8.0-inch unit and sat-nav, while the lower-spec LS and LT make do with a 7.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Flat, unsupportive seats hindered cabin comfort, however on the flipside noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels were excellent, no doubt thanks in part to the torque converter and revised mounts for the body, engine and transmission introduced in the 2016 updates. Engine noise, which can be intrusive from common-rail diesels, is excellent in the Colorado.
While the car-maker’s claim of a top-three sales performance may have seemed far-fetched, after a bit of time in the Colorado, maybe Holden’s goals are more achievable than we first thought.
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