2012-2016 Holden Colorado Review

By Toby Hagon, Fraser Stronach and WhichCar Staff

2012-2016 Holden Colorado Review

Priced From N/AInformation

Overall Rating


3 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

3 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

3 out of 5 stars


3 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProEngine; roadholding; smartphone connectivity; dealer network.

  2. ConAmong the less able utes off-road.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Holden Colorado LTZ (4x4) Crew Cab P/Up

What stands out?

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The Holden Colorado offers strong engine performance, a good-sized cabin, and plenty of cargo and towing capacity, along with the option of dual-range four-wheel drive. Like most utes, it comes in a big array of variants, from basic work trucks to family-friendly five-seaters.

This review covers Colorados on sale new prior to October 2016, with features as specified from the previous update of November 2014.

(Note that for technical reasons, the thumbnails and prices above refer to the upgraded Colorado that arrived for the 2017 model year. We apologise for this discrepancy, and will correct it when possible.)

What might bug me?

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Noise from the engine, and unappealing interior trim.

If you are not tech-savvy, you might have trouble taking full advantage of the entertainment and navigation functions. Even the satellite navigation relies on a connection with your mobile phone.

What body styles are there?

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Single-Cab, Space-Cab and Crew-Cab, and in both cab-chassis and pick-up form.

Space-Cab models have fold-down seats behind the front seats, accessed via rear-hinged doors that can open only when the front doors are open. Crew-Cabs have a conventional four-door arrangement, with seating for five.

Buyers of cab-chassis models fit trays of their choice at the rear, commonly tailor-made by aftermarket specialists. Pick-ups come with a factory-fitted tub at the back.

All cab styles come in cab-chassis versions. Only Space-Cabs and Crew-Cabs come as pick-ups.

The Colorado is available as a rear-wheel drive vehicle, or with dual-range four-wheel drive. It is classified as a light commercial pick-up.

What features do all versions have?

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Bluetooth phone connectivity, and auxiliary and USB ports for electronic devices. Headlamps that turn off automatically.

Electronic stability control, which helps the driver control the vehicle in a skid. This is not mandatory on commercial vehicles.

Electronic traction control, which helps prevent wheelspin in slippery conditions and is a great help off-road.

Trailer Sway Control, which helps settle a towing vehicle if its trailer is swaying from side-to-side.

Four airbags: two in front of the driver and front passenger, and curtain airbags on each side protecting the heads of front- and rear-seat occupants.

Holden’s standard 100,000km/three-year warranty applies to the Colorado.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The Colorado is available with only one engine, a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel from Italian diesel specialist VM Motori, which is part of the Fiat group.

Given that this engine is a relatively new design, it is surprisingly noisy and does not feel as smooth as the best ute engines. But it’s competitive for power and fuel economy.

The engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox on all models. All except the DX, which is the work truck Colorado, can also be ordered with a more expensive, six-speed automatic.

With either gearbox, the engine’s maximum power is quoted at 147kW. Holden says the version supplied with the automatic has more power at low speeds, but it doesn’t feel like that on the road.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Colorado is the DX, which comes only as a single-cab-chassis with four-wheel drive. It is a basic work vehicle for farmers, and for tradies who need 4WD for worksite access. It’s the only Colorado with a three-person front bench seat.

Step past the DX and all remaining models have front bucket seats and an extra two airbags – side impact airbags to protect the upper body of front passengers – for six airbags in all.

All but the DX also have a 7.0-inch touchscreen for controlling the entertainment and satellite navigation systems. And they have a leather-covered steering wheel, with buttons for phone connectivity, the audio system, and the cruise control that is introduced at this point. Parking sensors at the rear of the vehicle warn the driver of obstacles.

The Colorado LS – one step up from the DX – has 16-inch steel wheels. Pay more for the LT and you get nicer looking wheels in aluminium alloy, and foglights.

The Colorado LTZ also has a reversing camera, air-conditioning that maintains a set temperature, power adjustment for the driver’s seat, and in Crew Cab models the option of leather seats (with heated front seats). LTZs also get superior projector-type self-levelling headlamps, electrically folding external rear-view mirrors, side-steps, a soft tonneau cover, and a chrome sports bar for the rear tub. Wheel diameter grows to 17-inches, and the tyres are slightly wider and lower in profile.

For 2015, the LTZ also has softer-riding suspension, designed to be more comfortable for passengers when the ute is not heavily loaded.

In the most expensive Colorado, the Z71, leather seats (heated in front) are standard. The wheel diameter increases a further inch to 18 inches. There are roof rails, which make it easier to add roof luggage systems, and several exterior styling enhancements.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The softer suspension tune on the LTZ and Z71 reduces the weight you can carry by 200kg, or about 20 per cent.

White and non-metallic red are the only standard colours: the rest attract an additional charge.

How comfortable is it?

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The Colorado’s cabin is comfortable and spacious for driver and passenger, even if some of the plastic surfaces have a rough and hard finish. The LTZ and Z71 use some different materials that help the cabin feel warmer and more inviting.

Holden has taken its own approach with connectivity, and satellite navigation and voice-control functions need special apps in brand-specific mobile devices. It will be all too confusing for some buyers, especially older buyers.

The Colorado drives as utes generally do. With only passengers on board, the ride can be uncomfortable. Very smooth roads are fine but everywhere else you know you are in a ute.

The comfort-tuned suspension on the LTZ and Z71 helps here. Weight in the tub or on the tray also helps settle the ride – that is always the case with utes.

Nevertheless the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50, and particularly the Volkswagen Amarok, ride better than the Colorado.

The Colorado’s diesel engine is noisy but enthusiastic, and is best when mated to the automatic gearbox. The manual is geared too tall, which means the engine struggles in the higher gears on hills.

What about safety?

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Compared with utes of even five years ago, the current-generation Colorado, first seen in 2012, is well endowed with safety equipment. In fact its list of safety features would not look out of place in an SUV or passenger car. Even the work-truck DX scores a rating of Very Good, helped by its side-curtain airbags, while the addition of a reversing camera lifts LTZ and Z71 versions to Excellent.

(To see a full list of the safety features on any model, select the vehicle and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded all Colorado Crew-Cabs a maximum five-star safety rating, and even Single-Cab and Space-Cab models get four stars.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Utes aren’t designed as drivers’ cars and the Colorado is only a mid-fielder in driving enjoyment, even by ute standards. The steering lacks precision and the handling does not inspire the confidence you would experience in a Volkswagen Amarok or a Ford Ranger.

While the Colorado's engine is eager, it is not as quiet and smooth-running as competitor designs.

Colorado 4WD models have decent off-road ability but won’t go as far as some other utes. That is because they do not have a rear differential lock, either standard or as an option, which can greatly improve drive in low-grip situations.

The tall gearing on the manual also means that when off-road, Colorado 4WD models sometimes need you to select low range in conditions where alternative vehicles are happy in high range.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Crew-Cab models have a three-person rear seat that is spacious and comfortable for a ute rear seat.

Crew-Cabs also come with ISOFIX anchor points for child seats.

The Space-Cab models have two small, folding jump seats that are suitable only for children and small adults, and over short distances.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Colorado is a good working ute with a class-leading 3500kg towing rating and a strong 3150kg Gross Vehicle Mass, or GVM, for all but the LTZ and Z71 (which can carry 200kg less).

GVM is the total weight a vehicle can carry, including its own weight.

The Colorado also has a good-sized standard tub.

Where is it made?

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All Colorados are made in Thailand.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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A rear differential lock. These help four-wheel drive Ford Rangers, Mazda BT-50s and Volkswagen Amaroks, for example, go further off-road.

Other utes you might consider include the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, and the Isuzu D-Max with which the Colorado shares its basic chassis and bodies.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The LTZ Crew-Cab 4x4 automatic is the stand-out choice for a do-everything family Colorado.

When did Holden update this Colorado?

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This RG generation Colorado went on sale in 2012, and was revised for the 2014 model year. A further revision for 2015 included measures to reduce engine noise in the cabin. The Z71 variant was added in mid-2015.

The car covered in this review was superseded about October 2016 by a Colorado based on the same RG architecture but extensively modified, with a revised look, a more comfortable cabin, a smoother engine, and better handling. A 7.0-inch or bigger central screen brought better smartphone integration, via support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.