WHILE all eyes are on Mercedes-Benz’s newcomer and Volkswagen’s V6 powerhouse, let’s not overlook what is arguably the most significant of the nine vehicles here, the underrated Colorado.
With sliding sales in Holden’s traditional segments coinciding with fresh potential found in the dual-cab ute arena, the Colorado could be the Lion brand’s saviour. And the heavily updated version absolutely has the credentials to do that. Completely revamped in 2016, it received far more than a few USB ports and a shot of Botox, bringing forth dramatic improvements that still stack up well even against more recent arrivals. Let’s call it the rebirth of Colorado.
Read next: Holden Colorado range review
For starters, a cabin rethink brings an attractive and very functional dashboard that’s suitably chunky yet thoughtfully presented. Broad, supple front seats provide plenty of support, and while the (ugly) steering wheel lacks reach adjustability like the Ranger and others here, the driving position should be fine for most folk. There’s also heaps of internal storage options, ventilation is excellent, and the rear seat is surprisingly accommodating – bar a backrest folding mechanism that requires two people to operate.
Then there’s the revised chassis – including new transmission and suspension mounts, and upgraded springs and dampers – which has made a resounding difference. Where the Colorado’s ride and NVH
levels previously relegated it among the also-rans, the update has had a profound effect elevating comfort and perceived quality in one swoop. The 2.8-litre Duramax diesel – actually a VM Motori lump – still sings a familiar, clattery anthem, but it sounds as if it has been buried under a few more blankets courtesy of superior road-noise insulation.
With 500Nm, the Colorado shines among the four-pots with strong pulling power from very low revs. We managed the 0-100km/h dash in 9.5sec, which might not sound like much in an era when small hatches can crack 8.0sec, but the Hilux couldn’t better 11.2. And the Holden is frugal to boot.
The Colorado also gains marks for competent handling and (comparative) dynamic refinement. Yes, the unladen ride is firm, just like most one-tonners (apart from Amarok), but a tuned-to-Australian-taste chassis really handles our environment with unexpected aplomb and no nasty shocks. While the steering is a tad too light in the dead-ahead position, there’s zero rack rattle and the Colorado’s high-speed handling – particularly on changing surfaces – is right up with the segment best. The Lang Lang suspension honing should make the most one-eyed patriot proud, even if this ute hails from Thailand.
As a value proposition the Holden continues to punch hard, with a five-year warranty on top of the $52,690 LTZ’s generous flash for the cash, which includes electric front seats, a sports bar, Apple CarPlay, navigation, remote window opening, remote start, hill-descent tech, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and tyre-pressure monitoring.
When away from the beaten trail, the Colorado sits in the middle of the pack with decent off-road ability. While it can’t brag the outright suspension travel of the Amarok, Hilux, Ranger or BT-50, and lacks a locking differential, it offers excellent traction over more slippery surfaces. Towing capacity is more than adequate, too, with the Holden’s readily accessible torque and stable chassis holding station with the class leaders.
The localisation of the Colorado has resulted in a pick-up that is far better than any previous version, elevating it to a highly respectable fourth position in this Megatest. The more time we spent with the LTZ the more obvious its many strengths (with few weaknesses) became. If only buyers in this segment invested the same scrutiny, for Holden’s sake at the very least.
Engine 2776cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, TD
Power 147kW @ 3600rpm
Torque 500Nm @ 2000-2200rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) 5361/1872/1800/3096mm
Tray capacity 1029kg
Braked towing capacity 3500kg
Unbraked towing capacity 750kg
Ground clearance 215mm
Tyres Bridgestone Dueler H/T 265/60R18
Test fuel average 9.8L/100km
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