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2018 Holden Colorado Z71 Xtreme 4x4 review

By Justin Walker, 19 Sep 2018 Road Tests

Holden raises the bar with its own special-edition, off-road focused dual cab.

2018 Holden Colorado Z71 Xtreme 4x4 review

Holden’s new Z71 Colorado Xtreme is the General’s limited-model tilt at a bush-ready dual-cab to take on the likes of Ranger Raptor and the HiLux Rugged X, and comes standard with a raft of touring accessories.

In addition to the ‘regular’ Z71 Colorado spec-list, Holden has added the expected accoutrements for such a model – extended sports bar, beefy side-steps, fender flares, ZR2 bonnet bulge, and roof-rack – along with some far more serious gear.

The Xtreme also includes a steel rear step bar, full tow kit, tougher Goodyear Wrangler All Terrain 265/60R18 tyres wrapped around trick black alloys, bash plate, stiffer front springs and – most impressively – a winch bar and Warn 10,000lb winch (one of only two genuine accessory winches on the new-car market), topped with a LED light bar.

Oddly, though, there are no rated recovery hooks on what is branded a ‘bush-ready’ vehicle; the Colorado’s only potential recovery points up front are two front tow points rated at 1500kg.

The Xtreme’s spec list comprises most of the popular accessories dual-cab ute owners usually fit to their vehicles, with the buyer attraction being the fact it is all covered by one factory warranty. All-up, Holden claims a retail pricing of around $19,000 fitted for the accessories, which may (or may not) help potential buyers digest the lofty $69,990 driveaway price.

Extreme Reasons

Yep, $70k is a fair chunk of cash to drop on a dual-cab 4x4 ute – albeit one that is kitted out and ready to roll off the showroom floor to the outback - and it begs the question of which way is best for buyers looking for a bush-ready Colorado.

The benefit of in-house equipment is that all-encompassing factory warranty; if anything goes wrong with any of the Holden-fit goodies, it’s a simple matter of heading back to the dealer for the fix.

Try the same with any accessory fitted by business X and they may wash their hands of it and blame the ‘other gear’ you had fitted by business Y for causing the problem. The ensuing to-and-fro as you try to get your accessory fixed can leave you both frustrated and, potentially, out of pocket. (Hint: always deal with reputable aftermarket brands.)

The main component in the Xtreme’s off-road armoury is the Aussie-designed and engineered winch bar, with that awesome Warn winch. Holden engineers spent months optimising the design of the bar – and the winch location itself – and the result is impressive; the bar sits far more snugly against the front of the vehicle. It ensure as little weight is forward of the front axle as possible and also helps increase the vehicle’s approach angle.

Holden followed the same principle with the location of the winch. Having the Warn sitting as far back into the bar as possible means its weight is also closer to the front axle, fulfilling the desire by engineers to minimise the effect the additional 65kg (bar and winch) has on the vehicle’s handling.

Further alleviating those weight concerns is the use of Warn’s Spydura synthetic rope on the winch. This resulted in Holden engineers being able to just tweak the front springs, re-rating them for the heavier load, but not having to include heavy-duty dampers, which would have jacked the price up even further. The desired end-result for designers was for owners of the Xtreme to enjoy the same handling and steering feel as a ‘stock’ Z71 with no bar attached.

One final point: the Colorado retains its five-star ANCAP safety rating even with the winch bar fitted. Impressive.

Proving Ground

Holden invited 4x4 Australia out to Coober Pedy to put the Xtreme through its off-road paces, with three days driving through some of outback South Australia’s rugged terrain, including the Painted Desert, the Breakaways, sections of the Oodnadatta Track plus a short off-road course just outside Coober Pedy itself.

The terrain varied from bitumen to graded dirt roads to rocky, potholed dirt tracks, replicating an outback trip in essence. Besides the Xtreme, Holden also had Colorados fitted with some other factory accessories (including another bulbar-equipped vehicle, but with no winch), as well as a completely standard Z71 so testers could compare directly the ride and handling of the Xtreme with its additional gear (totally 150kg all-up) against the stock model.

The Colorado is no slouch in standard form, thanks to its willing 147kW/500Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel donk. Driving the Xtreme saw no discernible difference in straight-line performance, with the vehicle offering the same punchy response as its slightly lighter stablemate.

The beefier front springs did an impressive job of keeping the Colorado’s front-end well controlled; potholes and dips saw the front suspension compress as expected, but there was no bottoming-out and it returned to its regular trim-height without drama. The Xtreme feels just as well balanced front and rear as the stocker, pointing to some excellent engineering work from the Holden team.

Steering feel is still light and direct. You do notice the extra ‘bite’ from the more aggressive All Terrain rubber fitted to the Xtreme, but they push through and over rougher surfaces more easily than the road-oriented hoops fitted to the Z71. If you didn’t have to look over that unnecessary bonnet bulge on the Xtreme to remind you, you’d think you were driving the regular Z71.

A voice in the crowd

The proliferation of ‘halo’ dual-cabs over the past two years – Raptor, Rugged X, the HSV Sportscat, for example – means it is a no-brainer for Holden to have this limited-edition model in the same market segment. The $70k price, however, is too ambitious, especially compared to some of its immediate competitors.

Yes, the winch bar/winch, front springs and off-road biased tyres differentiate the Xtreme to a point, but highly regarded aftermarket suppliers offer equivalent versions of these same accessories – and at comparative prices.

Drop the driveaway price by $10k, and the Xtreme’s combo of effective accessories, impressive on- and off-road handling, and that punchy durable engine, would make much more sense.