HOLDEN'S revolution is in full swing.
The top brass are making positive noises about transforming the brand as local manufacturing winds up, promising renewed customer focus and product portfolio.
Holden has guaranteed us 24 new models by 2020 and its revised Colorado ute is number seven on that list, soon to be followed by number eight: the Trailblazer SUV based on Colorado's chassis.
Both enter busy battle grounds packed with quality choice, and such are the strong sales numbers in both 4x4 ute and ute-based family SUVs segments, the importance of Holden getting Colorado and Trailblazer right for our market can't be underestimated.
Key is maintaining loyal Colorado buyers and attracting those out of rival brands - Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger in particular are returning stunning sales figures.
Good news for Holden is the new Thai-built Colorado is a compelling package, giving buyers ample reason to consider adding it to their shortlist when perhaps the outgoing Colorado would be struck from said list when compared to its recently refreshed rivals.
Keeping the 4x2 Single Cab Chassis at under $30k is a strong starting point, while top-selling family/lifestyle favourite Crew Cab (double cab) utes can be had from $35,990 as a 4x2 or $44,990 the 4x4 (all before on-roads). Such prices are barely changed from the outgoing utes, but upgrades are plentiful.
Substantial Australian engineering for the suspension and new electric power steering were needed and welcome; there's more car-like refinement, reversing camera as standard for the Crew Cabs, new MyLink infotainment with desirable Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, new colour touchscreens and 5 Star ANCAP rating range wide.
We tested the top-selling Crew Cab 4x4s in their LS, LT, LTZ and Z71 grades, including those with some tempting genuine accessories from Holden's largest ever range.
The new Colorado has been co-developed by Holden engineers alongside international General Motors colleagues, and the Holden team's push for refinement and inclusions for our market is clear.
Yes, the tough work truck abilities have remained, but recognising buyers also spend a lot of time on the bitumen and with family on board has resulted in a markedly more car-like dashboard with more soft-touch plastics, improved design and a further move away from utilitarian styling.
An easy-to-navigate colour touchscreen sits atop a well laid-out central control unit, while steering wheel controls and excellent smartphone integration means you can control music, navigation, calls and texts without taking your hands off the wheel.
Seats are basic in design but proved comfy after a few hundred kilometres of on- and off-road work. Second row seating is typical double cab ute with quite high floor, but leg and head space were good for adults so the kids should have few complaints.
Biggest leap in comfort comes on the drive, and have been implemented based on local customer feedback and expectations. Suspension changes for the new Colorado include a larger front stabiliser bar, revised spring rates and better dampers.
It shows. Yes, the Colorado is a global truck but its configuration is unique to Australia following exhaustive work by Holden's engineering team. We weren't able to test the old Colorado against new to confirm the leap, but the cabin felt wonderfully insulated, the ride comfort excellent for a ute and a marked step up over old.
Introduced on this model is a CPA torque converter to reduce vibrations and engine noise, complemented by reducing wind noise through parts redesign and additional robustenss, new engine and transmission mounts, new tyres and better insulation.
On the road
The many revisions and re-engineering make for an impressive drive.
The chassis handled on-road bumps with ease, the moreso with greater load in the tray. It inspired confidence through the turns, and while naturally not being entirely car-like due to its size and leaf-sprung rear, I was happy to maintain decent speed through corners such was the impressive balance.
Holden admitted the old Colorado's steering was a key focal point for improvement, and has delivered electric power steering for the first time as a result. The rack is faster, there's new calibration and less turns lock to lock.
Feeling very light and easy when manoeuvring or at low speeds, it gets more communicative under load. It suits such a vehicle well, and shows another marked improvement over old....necessary to keep up with quality rivals.
The engine for the entire range is the same 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel as before, boasting power and torque in the upper reaches of this segment. It may not be quite as quiet as the excellent HiLux four-cylinder but the noise and vibration were so minimal when driving it barely registered.
Peak torque - all 500Nm of it - arrives at 2000rpm through the optional auto gearbox which worked away with minimal fuss.
What do you get?
Range wide you get a new 7- or 8-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, seven airbags and rear view camera.
Move to the LT and you get 17-inch alloys, carpet, front fogs and side steps; LTZ brings 18-inch rims, embedded sat nav, remote vehicle start, front park assist, climate control, alloy sports bar, soft tonneau cover and electric driver's seat.
Range topping Z71 scores grey metallic 18-inch wheels, sports bar and side rails, heated leather seats, black exterior handles, mouldings and front grille and Z71 bonnet decals. Both LTZ and Z71 offer safety systems such as forward collision alert and lane departure warning when most rivals do not.
Plenty of quality choices here. Top sellers in the 4x4 double cab ute segment are the Toyota HiLux SR ($46,490) and Ford Ranger XL ($46,490). Also look at the Isuzu D-Max LS-M ($44,900), Mazda BT-50 XT ($44,615), Mitsubishi Triton GLS ($40,990), Nissan Navara NP300 ST ($45,990) and VW Amarok TDI400 Core ($42,990).
Towing capacity of 3500kg is matched in this class but not bettered, while all 4x4 Crew Cab pick-up models are true one-tonners, with the LS the best at 1085kg with auto transmission.
Three child restraint anchors plus two ISOFIX points in the back tick the family-friendly box.
The Colorado's 2.8-litre diesel isn't the most fuel efficient in class but by no means a heavy drinker.
A real bonus is Holden's lifetime capped price servicing program which at least means no nasty surprises in that department. Servicing is every 15,000km or nine months with the first four services $349, the next three at $409.
There's been a redesigned grille, fascia and bonnet to sharpen things up, but it's still distinctively Colorado.
The largest ever range of genuine accessories for Colorado means there are ample ways to funky up your ute, including a safari bar, snorkel, LED light bar, bash plate, fender flares and polished black Sports Bars - the LTZ scoring LEDs on the latter.
There's been a real drive for quality here, with a much-improved locally engineered ride, more car-like cabin, noise reduction and better fit and finish of the ute's body.
It feels solid and capable and is easy to drive thanks to co-development by Holden engineers. It equates to a vehicle justifiable as a family and work tool no longer playing catch-up to the rest in the quality 4x4 ute segment. Now, the new Colorado is right up there.
What matters most
What we liked: New chassis tune and steering greatly improve ride, high specification for the money including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, safety gear especially in top grades.
What we'd like to see: Less thirsty engine to match some rivals.
Warranty and servicing: Three years/100,000km warranty. Servicing is every 15,000km/9 months with lifetime capped price servicing. The first four services are $349, the next three are $409.
Model: MY2017 Holden Colorado Crew Cab Pick Up 4x4.
Details: Four-door 4x4 double cab utility in LS, LT, LTZ and Z71 grades.
Engine: 2.8-litre four-cylinder Duramax turbo-diesel with 147kW @ 3600rpm and 500Nm @ 2000rpm (auto) /440Nm @ 1600rpm (manual).
Transmission: Six-speed manual / six-speed auto.
Consumption: 7.9L/100km - 8.7L/100km (combined).
Towing capacity: 3500kg (braked).
Payload: 1078kg (LS); 1041kg (LT); 1022kg (LTZ); 1000kg (Z71) (Manual transmission).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $44,990 (LS); $46,990 (LT); $50,490 (LTZ); $54,990 (Z71). Add $2200 for automatic transmission on all grades.
Driving experience 17/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 17/20
Value for money 16/20
Style and design 16/20
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