AFTER several unsuccessful attempts at bringing its 2012-launched Colorado up to scratch, Holden has finally pulled the whole thing apart and started again.
It has moved the engine’s balance shafts, added sound deadening, changed the engine and body mounts, installed a new torque convertor, recalibrated the suspension, added electric power steering, and installed a thicker windscreen, new window seals, roof mouldings and mirror mounts.
The maximum power (147kW) and maximum torque (500Nm) figures from the 2.8-litre VM Motori diesel remain unchanged, but Holden claims the low rpm torque is now stronger. Colorado also gets a new dash, extra kit and a new front-end treatment to keep it current.
Our test vehicle was the Colorado LTZ. Heated leather seats are an option on the LTZ. The less expensive LT has 17s and a smaller touchscreen, and loses the embedded sat-nav, tyre-pressure monitoring, power driver’s seat, auto wipers, climate control, tonneau cover, sports bar and the high-end safety features. The work-spec LS loses sidesteps and fog lights and has 16-inch steel wheels, but it has the highest payload.
The first thing you notice sitting in the new Colorado is the redesigned dash layout that does away with the previous model’s awkward central-dial arrangement. The new dash has nice, big, clearly marked buttons to operate everything from the HVAC to driving
aids, and the eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is bright and well located.
The new electric power-steering features a faster steering rack and fewer turns lock-to-lock for a more responsive feel, and the recalibrated suspension (new dampers, bigger front stabiliser and revised spring rates) results in a more compliant ride and better control, particularly over bumpy back roads and crook gravel roads.
The Colorado’s 2.8L turbo-diesel engine makes plenty of torque from down low, it has an impressive top-end and it’s well mated to the six-speed automatic transmission. Road noise isolation is also improved in the new Colorado, making it a much more pleasant vehicle for touring. On test the Colorado LTZ recorded an impressive average fuel consumption of 11.1L/100km, offering a safe touring range in excess of 630km.
The new suspension calibration is most noticeable when driving the Colorado on back roads and tracks. It now delivers a more compliant ride over uneven ground, even with a nominal load in the tray. In fact, some testers said it now feels much more like the Isuzu D-Max, with which it shares its basic platform.
Front ground clearance was an issue on a few tracks, and the plastic sidesteps are vulnerable, but the Colorado conquered everything we threw at it out on the trails.
Despite only a moderate overall ratio of 36.8:1 in first gear, it climbed the High Country’s steep tracks with ease, but engine braking could have been better on the descents.
SET-PIECE HILL CLIMB
The set-piece hill climb is covered in big holes that really test a vehicle’s wheel travel, and while the Colorado is quite good in this regard, as soon as full extension is reached it needs to rely on its electronic traction control to get to the top. Unfortunately, the calibration of said traction control wasn’t up to the job on this occasion and without the benefit of a rear diff lock (as fitted to many other dual-cab utes these days) the Colorado was unable to make the climb.
Despite several attempts the Colorado adamantly spun its wheels furiously every time in an attempt to gain purchase and eventually a completely different line had to be chosen to crest the hill to avoid the deepest holes on the track.
Engine braking proved adequate rather than outstanding and, like most hill descent control systems, the Colorado’s is set a too fast for extremely steep descents.
CABIN, EQUIPMENT AND ACCOMMODATION
The Colorado’s redesigned cabin is a much more pleasant place to be than the previous model’s. But while the dash layout is now vastly more attractive, it’s black, so it only takes a small amount of dust and it looks messy.
The Colorado LTZ is well equipped and now has active safety features such as tyre pressure monitor, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, trailer-sway control, roll-over mitigation, rear-park assist and reversing camera, and a full complement of seven airbags.
It also has an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, climate control air-conditioning and plenty of 12V power outlets. Leather seat trim is optional on the LTZ but standard on the Z71.
The biggest and most obvious omission from the standard equipment list is a rear diff lock, which is almost de rigueur in the 4x4 ute segment these days. Without it, the Colorado simply doesn’t match the competition for off-road capability.
The Colorado’s engine bay is reasonably well set-up for off-road driving, with the alternator, ECU and other electrics all up high, and the air intake through the inner guard. However, on the downside you’ll need to get a spanner out to access the air filter, and you’ll also have to move a few things around if you want to fit a second battery under the bonnet.
Approach, ramp-over and departure angles aren’t great, and we hung up the rear bumper a couple of times when exiting gullies off-road. There are two recovery points at the front.
The Colorado LTZ wears 265/60R18 Bridgestone Duelers on its alloy rims, but if you aren’t happy with this you could always fit the 17-inch rims from the LT model.
“The new Colorado is leaps and bounds in front of the outgoing model, but that’s more a comment about the old than the new,” commented 4X4OTY judge Dan Everett. He’s right, too – while it’s much improved it still falls short of some of the competition, and there’s still a question mark hanging over its off-road capability in extreme terrain.
The new Colorado has only limited changes to the suspension, so the Tough Dog offering from the previous Colorado is still relevant for this one. A handbrake relocation kit (as the cable changed locations) has been added.
Tough Dog offers foam cell and adjustable shocks as well as two front springs (up to bullbar, and vehicles with bullbar and winch fitted) along with three rear leaf options to suit constant load carrying. Its suspension solutions offer a 40mm lift over standard height for this vehicle.
Prices range from $1660 to $2170 depending on the options selected, so get your hands on a test vehicle. Its design similarities with other vehicles on the market mean that there may be some components already developed and suitable for this vehicle.
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Max Power: 147kW @ 3600rpm
Max Torque: 500Nm @ 2000rpm
Gearbox: six-speed automatic
4x4 system: dual-range part-time
Crawl ratio: 36.8:1
Tyre spec: 265/60R18 110T
Kerb weight: 2121kg
Towing capacity: 3500kg
Fuel tank capacity: 76 litres
ADR fuel claim: 8.7L/100km
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