2020 Holden Colorado review

The much improved Holden Colorado is a well equipped 4WD ute with an excellent engine. It carries and tows big loads well, steers nicely, and makes good use of your smartphone.

Coloroado Zr 1 2 Jpg
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Engine
  •   Roadholding
  •   Smartphone connectivity
  •   Dealer network
Not so much
  •   Among the less able utes off-road

What stands out?

The much-improved Holden Colorado is 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 demise of Holden means you may be able to secure huge discounts on remaining models including the Colorado. For more details, read: Holden slashes prices as final fire sales begin.

What might bug me?

Not much that would not bug you in any other ute, such as the stiff ride when unladen. The significant update of September 2016 has resolved most complaints levelled at the Colorado before then.

Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat may remain a challenge for some people. The steering wheel is adjustable for height but not reach – it can’t be slid in or out. And you might find the front seats flatter and less form-fitting than those in some alternatives.

Friends with other utes might handle extreme off-road conditions more comfortably. While 4WD Colorados are generally capable in off-road driving, they are not among the best utes when the going gets very difficult – in part because they do not have lockable rear differentials.

And of course, how Holden's demise could have an impact on resale values. The good news is there should be no negative impact on your rights as an owner when it comes to parts, servicing, warranties and recalls.

For more details about how Holden's closure will impact Acadia ownership, see the 'Is it safe to buy a new or used Colorado with Holden shutting down?' section below.

What body styles are there?

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. The 4WD system is part-time – which means you have to use two-wheel drive on normal roads, but may manually select 4WD, or low-range 4WD, for extra grip when driving on loose surfaces. The Colorado is classified as a light commercial pick-up.

What features do all versions have?

A leather-wrapped steering wheel, with buttons for operating the cruise control, the sound system and your phone. Headlamps that switch on automatically when it’s getting dark.

A 7.0-inch or larger central touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allows the screen to display and control apps (such as navigation) from compatible smartphones. Bluetooth phone connectivity, and auxiliary and USB ports for electronic devices. Digital radio tuning, which lets you receive dozens of additional channels in cities.

On Colorado pick-ups, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. (Cab-chassis variants have wiring that allows a camera to be connected easily when you fit the tray).

Electronic stability control, which helps you control the vehicle in a skid. Trailer Sway Control, which helps settle a towing vehicle if its trailer is swaying from side-to-side. Hill-start assist, which controls the brakes automatically to make it easier for you to take off on uphill slopes.

Electric power steering, and electronic traction control, which helps prevent wheelspin in slippery conditions and is a great help off-road.

Seatbelt reminders for all seats, power operated door mirrors.

Remote window activation, which lets you open the windows with your key fob so your Colorado cools down a little on a hot day.

Full-size spare wheel.

Seven airbags: two in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the chest from side-impacts; a knee airbag for the driver; and curtain airbags down each side to protect the heads of all occupants (front and rear) from side impacts.

Holden’s standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty applies to the Colorado.

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

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.

This engine was re-engineered significantly for the update of September 2016 with the aim of making it smoother and quieter. The changes succeeded, and Colorados sold since then are much nicer to drive than their surprisingly rough-feeling predecessors. The engine is a relatively new design and delivers excellent power for a ute.

On the official test the diesel consumes as little as 7.9 litres/100km (city and country combined) with a manual gearbox, and about 10 per cent more as an auto – figures varying slightly with cab style and equipment. That’s good but not outstandingly good.

In the real world, expect a 4WD manual Crew Cab Colorado to average about 10 litres/100km, and an auto about 10.5 litres/100km.

Any Colorado can be ordered with the six-speed manual gearbox or with the more expensive six-speed automatic.

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.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly Colorado is the LS, which is aimed at tradespeople who want a simple but capable truck. It has cloth seats, basic-looking 16-inch steel wheels. The Single and Crew Cab versions have durable vinyl floor covering.

Spend more for a Colorado LT and you get wheels an inch bigger in diameter made from lighter and more stylish aluminium alloy. Front fog lights project a wide beam low across the road for better vision when it is misty, and side steps make it easier to step into the vehicle. The floors are covered with carpet, the tailgate can be locked, and clear-sounding digital radio is added to the infotainment system.

The LSX Crew Cab is based on the LT but gains more aggressive styling with 18-inch grey alloy wheels, gloss black grille, flared wheel arches, and a soft tonneau cover.

Spend more again on a Colorado LTZ and you get a lot of extra stuff. The front seats are heated, the driver’s seat is power adjustable, and the touchscreen is bigger (at 8.0 inches) and has built-in satellite navigation. Windscreen wipers come on automatically when it rains, and climate-control ventilation maintains a set cabin temperature. Front parking sensors augment those at the rear.

Tyre monitoring system lets you know if either of the 18-inch tyres are going flat (a useful safety feature which could also save you from damaging the tyre irreparably). Aesthetic extras include chrome door handles, chrome side mirrors and a sports bar (which looks like a rollover hoop but is fitted purely for the look).

Finally, the LTZ brings you two active safety aids: forward collision alert and lane departure warning. (For more on these features, please open the Safety section below.)
The LTZ+ has all that plus a towbar.

The most expensive Colorado is the Z71, which adds leather trim seats to the equipment of the LTZ. It also gets roof rails (which make it easier to attach a rooftop luggage system), and a range of exterior styling tweaks that give it a sportier look all its own.

Holden has created a broad range of accessories for the Colorado. They include bull bars and driving lights, fender flares (they make the wheel arches look bigger), bike carriers and even sheepskin seat inserts. Other accessories are aimed at those planning serious off-roading: snorkels, tougher bash plates (for better underbody protection), and “all-terrain” tyres with better puncture resistance.

These can be added separately or as part of a range of extra-cost packages to enhance your Colorado – the Tradie Pack, The Black Pack, The Farmer Packs, The Rig Pack and The Xtreme Pack.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The Z71 is only available in four colours – white, red, black and grey – whereas other models have as many as seven to choose from.

White and red are the only standard colours, with the other five costing extra.

How comfortable is it?

For a ute, the Colorado is now pretty comfy – again thanks to model development for the update of September 2016.

The new truck looks a lot better inside than the pre-update version, and the control layout is more cohesive. The touchscreen sits high on the dash where it is easily accessed and easily seen by the driver. The screen is easy to navigate, with menus and icons for selecting functions or radio stations.

Cabin storage is good, with a deep centre console, cupholders and broad door pockets.

Less impressive is the driving position. The seats in are relatively flat and so don’t have much lateral support, which is important for allowing you to relax around corners. Things do improve in the more expensive LTZ and Z71 versions, which have power-adjusted driver’s seat positions.

And the steering wheel can be adjusted only up and down, and not in and out – although the Colorado is no orphan here. Some shapes and sizes, then, will find it difficult to find the ideal driving position.

As in all utes, things get bumpy in a Colorado when only one or two people are on board. That’s because it is designed to carry the better part of a tonne in the tray, and needs rear suspension stiff enough to support a full load.

The ride with a light load feels less bumpy once speeds rise above 60km/h. And it settles nicely with more weight on board.

Work to quell the noise and engine roughness of the previous Colorado has done a great job in improving comfort. There’s still an associated growl when accelerating, but it’s on par with other utes. The engine has so much muscle that you can drive it gently and still get decent acceleration, further reducing unwanted noise.

What about safety?

The Colorado has a strong crash structure and a full complement of airbags, including head protection for rear passengers against side impacts. Electronic stability control helps you control a skid or slide by automatically applying brakes to one or more wheels. LED daytime running lights and auto-on headlights improve visibility on all Colorados, and seatbelt reminders operate on all seats.

A reversing camera and rear parking sensors are standard on all Colorado pick-ups.

LTZ and Z71 Colorados add a camera-based forward collision alert, which beeps and flashes a light if it detects a risk that you may collide with a slower vehicle in front. It is up to you to take action, however: the Colorado will not apply the brakes automatically.

These more expensive Colorados also bring you a lane-departure warning, triggered if the camera recognises that you have begun to drift into an adjacent lane on the highway – perhaps through distraction or because you are falling asleep. Potentially this is a life-saver, although the beeps it makes might irritate you enough that you switch it off. Similar systems on some cars notify you more subtly, for example by vibrating the steering wheel.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Colorado five stars for safety, its maximum, in August 2016.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Like all work utes, the Colorado is more about capability and load lugging than dexterity through tight bends.

That said, extensive Australian engineering efforts have improved the Colorado to the point where it is now one of the more enjoyable of the breed to drive.

Its strength is the muscular 2.8-litre engine. Especially when combined with the six-speed automatic, this engine feels very strong when climbing hills or overtaking – to the point where you can add a few hundred kilograms of cargo to the tray and barely notice the difference.

In auto form, the Colorado is significantly quicker than a 3.2-litre Ford Ranger, for example, even if it also sounds noisier and more gravelly from inside the cabin.

Manual Colorados received lower gearing in the update, which has made them more capable than their predecessors of sustaining top gear up long hills – and also improves their driveability when off-road.

The Colorado comes with good tyres, able to withstand some punishment on gravel roads but also to grip impressively through corners.

The update of September 2016 contributed a new steering system with electric rather than hydraulic assistance. This reduces fuel use but has also improved feel. The assistance varies with speed, so that steering effort is light when parking but gets pleasantly heavier at speed, for reassuring feedback on country roads.

The Colorado has good ground clearance, and 4WD versions have dual-range gearing. That allows you to drive comfortably at very low speeds off-road, while scrabbling over rocks, through mud, and up steep, rough climbs.

However while its off-road capabilities are generally good, the Colorado is not as able in extremely rough or slippery conditions as several alternative 4WD utes. It has less suspension travel than, for example, the Toyota HiLux, which means it is less capable of keeping all four wheels on the ground where they can drive you forward.

And while the Colorado has electronic traction control – which limits wheelspin – it does not have a locking rear differential, which would ensure that both rear wheels were driven fully even if one wheel could find no grip at all. Several alternative utes supply a rear diff-lock, and some of these sustain traction control for the front wheels even with the rear lock engaged.

How is life in the rear seats?

Single Cab Colorados have no rear seats, while Space Cabs include small fold-down seats. They’re not very comfortable and are best left to temporary use.

If you want to carry three or more people frequently, then a Crew Cab is the obvious choice.

Getting in to the back is a decent climb up and there are no grab handles.

Once inside, those in the rear have good head and leg room and the seats themselves are broad and comfortable. Unlike most dual-cab utes, the Colorado Crew Cabs feature air vents dedicated to rear passengers.

How is it for carrying stuff, and for towing?

Excellent, of course. It’s a ute! And the Colorado is also very good at towing.

How much you can carry depends on which Colorado you get. Fewer seats in the cab means more length in the tray – and the longer trays accept more weight (because there’s less weight in the cab).

Legally, a Colorado can carry about as much as any other ute and more than most. Even the Colorado with the least capacity – the Z71 Crew Cab – can carry 800kg in the tray (40 bags of cement) and a driver and passenger, and be legal.

In practice, the Colorado feels stable with a big load on board, the robust chassis handling the greater mass quite easily. The powerful diesel engine also has no trouble coping with loads near the legal limit.

All Colorados are rated to tow 3500kg, which again is as much any similar ute. You could haul a robust 20-foot tandem-axle off-road caravan, or a loaded three-horse float.

The engine pulls a big trailer quite well, even if it has to work a little harder than the bigger five-cylinder diesels in some alternative utes.

And the Colorado’s automatic gearbox is the best available in a ute for heavy towing, showing its class especially on long ascents and descents.

Inside, Single Cab and Space Cab Colorados have a bit of room in the rear of the cabin for gear. The popular Crew Cabs have no space behind the rear seats, however, so for storing things out of sight it is the centre console, the glovebox or under the seats.

In any ute, extreme care should be taken when carrying or towing big loads.

Where is it made?

All Colorados are made in Thailand.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Reach adjustment for the steering wheel (the Colorado’s wheel adjusts for height only). The Triton, Amarok and Hilux offer this, for example.

Perhaps a four-wheel drive system that you can also use on normal roads. Full-time 4WD comes with Volkswagen Amarok automatics and the more expensive of the Mitsubishi Tritons, for example. It is easier to operate and potentially safer than the Colorado’s part-time 4WD system.

Possibly active cruise control – which slows you automatically to the speed of a slower car in front on the highway, when you have the cruise control engaged. This is optional on the Ford Ranger XLT and Wildtrak.

If you plan to tackle very difficult tracks off-road, a rear differential lock that works in conjunction with traction control. The Ranger and auto-gearbox Amaroks have this, for example.

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

For a do-everything family Colorado, the LTZ Crew Cab 4WD with an automatic transmission. It gets most of the features of the Z71 but costs less because it does without some of the visual bling.

Is it safe to buy a new or used Colorado with Holden shutting down?

If you can get a good deal on a Colorado as part of the Holden fire sale, there is good reason to feel confident that parts will be available and that servicing and the warranty will be covered.

Australian consumer law requires that a brand supports its products for at least seven years, while General Motors – the parent company of Holden who are behind the closure – have stated that it will extend warranty and service support for 10 years. The company says it will establish a national after sales network to support existing customers for at least the next 10 years. And remember, you don’t have to service your Colorado at a Holden dealership to guarantee warranty coverage.

For more details, read: What does Holden's axing mean for its customers
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Engine
  •   Roadholding
  •   Smartphone connectivity
  •   Dealer network
Not so much
  •   Among the less able utes off-road


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