Above: Only in Australia. Photos by Deanna Avzangelis
Above: Chevy Colorado Extreme
Below: Holden Colorado
Launch Photo Album
Where else would you reveal a workhorse but on a working farm? Canny old Holden wanted to show Colorado in what should be its natural surroundings even if most of them probably won’t work terribly hard in real life.
First, the boring stuff.
– Redesigned grille, fascia and bonnet
– All-new chassis tune
– Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter
– All-new engine and transmission mounts
– Electronic Power Steering
– Engine acoustic pack
– Wind noise package
– LED Daytime Running Lights
– 7/8-inch colour touchscreen with Apple Carplay® and Android® Auto compatibility
– Remote vehicle start and remote window down with key fob (LTZ and Z71 AT)
– Heated front seats (Z71)
– Embedded satellite navigation (LTZ and Z71)
– 7 airbags (Driver knee, dual front, side and curtain airbags)
-TCS, ABS, ESC, Hill Descent
– Rear View Camera (across pick-up range)
– Parking sensors (front and rear on LTZ, Z71)
– Lane Departure Warning
– Forward Collision Alert
– Auto headlamps with LED DRLs
– Tyre Pressure Monitoring (LTZ and Z71)
– Structural reinforcements
Now, the fun stuff:
A quaint homestead on a working farm was a perfect backdrop for the uber-nimble Colorado MKII.
First, we corralled the ute in a large pen where she could kick up her heals. And kick she did. She went sideways through slaloms having far more fun than a humble tradie’s tool has any right to. As the dust flew, I had to pinch myself so I didn’t forget I was in a pick-up capable of towing 3,500kgs.
Towing is enough of a handful for the uninitiated, let alone a humble writer more at home in a coffee shop in Surry Hills. So, to make things interesting, Holden engineer Amelinda Watt hooked up 2,500kgs worth of digger and trailer. “No worries”, she said, “I’ll tell you what to do”. That’s like telling a surgeon how to remove a brain, over the phone.
Unlike many updates, Holden had input from the inception. There were local changes important enough to be adopted by other markets. Australia’s talent can’t be underestimated, but back to the challenge.
Undaunted, I jumped on board. Despite some dodgy directions, the digger was safely ensconced in her witch’s hat garage quicker than you can say “Clancy of the Overflow”.
In a manual base-model, we did a quick round of a yard, lined her up, then reversed into a space designed to fit a family hatch and a washing machine. Reversing a large heavy trailer is one thing, but a tall, heavy excavator makes the event all the more piquant. It is easier than you might think. Even towing such a heavy load, the Colorado felt easy to maneuver.
The auto version would have been even easier to handle.
On the bitumen, the Colorado is notably quieter than before. Although Holden’s engineers have put a lot of work into local tuning, the ute is a GM product, so is available worldwide. It’s hard to believe that this is considered mid-sized vehicle in the USA. It explains a lot about the American Psyche, and the size of their bums.
The engine sound deadening and body sound proofing has made an enormous difference to cabin noise levels. There is also less wind noise, and the engine/transmission mounts mean less vibration too. The pendulum mechanism fitted to the torque converter has minimised the unwanted quivering from the transmission making the driving experience both quieter and smoother. The occupants can speak quietly just like they would in a regular road-going sedan, and still hear the Radio National news.
Much of the day was spent on the open road in and around South East Queensland. The road surfaces varied from dreadful, to appalling, and they were the good bits. The 147kw/500Nm Duramax turbo diesel is the most powerful in class, and thanks to the subtle changes, now feels it. Holden have taken the fight right up to the Amarok which was the comfiest in the segment. Here is a quick side by side comparison of others in the class:-
It would have been easy to think of the facelift as just a bit of spit and polish, but the road trip made the Colorado feel like a feel contender for a sexy-weekend active-utility accessory it always should have been. You could easily pull a boat or jet ski, with enough room for 4 mates and all the sundry gear you could possibly think of. Pick-ups are no longer solely the reserve of bare-chested tradies. Oh grow up! Get your minds out of the gutter.
During the drive, we rotated through several trim level models with differing load in the back. Holden had stowed mulch, sand, and other such bucolic accoutrements in the cargo hold. The weights varied from 200kg to 500kg in order to demonstrate how the ride was not adversely affected by load regardless of road surface. More importantly, it didn’t bounce all over the road like a demented pin-pong ball when unladen. Many a ute has suspension set to take a tonne, but rattles your kidneys loose with just the driver on board.
The loads stayed in the back as we headed off-road to get a bit dirty. I don’t quite understand why you would want to, but in case you do, Colorado can cope with the shoddiest of goat tracks. There is a lot of satisfaction knowing you can go from the car park at Bunnings, to a clearing on a heavily wooded mountain, and the only thing you have to remember to do is pack the tent and gingham rug. Personally, I’d rather stick blunt chopsticks in my eyes.
So, now you know. I’m no dirt aficionado but if I can handle it, you certainly can. I just need a shower and a gin and tonic afterwards.
I like the comfort with which a Colorado tackles bumping over deeply rutted terrain. On more than one occasion I asked far more of the suspension than I should have, and despite the awful commotion going on below, it was nothing Colorado wasn’t built to handle.
My co-driver fiddled with the off-road controls to slowly descend steeper sections of the track. The heavily packed pick-up stepped carefully even with a heavy load. It was impressive. Even in normal mode, the Holden knows if you’ve got a load on, and will use engine braking on the open road. You get a large friendly message on the driver’s instrument panel letting you know “stage 2 engine braking has been engaged” as you coast down a steep hill. The “truck” as Holden wants us to call it, is looking after you whether you aware of it or not. It’s strangely reassuring.
The upper models get: lane departure, satnav along, auto headlights and wipers to make you feel dead posh. All models get nifty rear cameras, and the now-ubiquitous Apple Car Play/Android Auto. There is a whole bunch of safety and comfort related technology that raise this ute to a level of awesomeness once only available in an S Class Merc.
The LTZ had a natty soft cover for the tray that locks at the back. It allows you to unlock and open the tailgate without having to go through an elaborate ritual involving clips or elasticized toggles.
While on the subject of accessories, genuine accessories have been developed locally and look pretty good. The “Chevy Colorado Extreme” show vehicle showcased talents of the Australian design team. What looks like a matte orange wrap is in fact a $20,000 paint job. This vehicle was on display at our SE QLD event, complete with large, friendly, “DO NOT TOUCH “ signs peppered all over the place.
Among other bright ideas, the show car’s tubular side steps, rear “sports bar”, and integrated nudge bar have been developed for sale as genuine parts. It makes even the base model look delicious.
It’s worth mentioning that genuine accessories have been tested by Holden. What it means is the 5 star safety rating is not impaired by sidesteps, nudge bars and sports bars. If you have an incident, the airbags will deploy properly, something I had never previously considered. After market accessories may not have the same scrutiny, and you won’t find out things have gone badly wrong until it is too late. The moral of the story is: You Get What You Pay For.
The first thing to say is that Holden are trying to convince us to call their pick-up, a truck. It’s some Yankee idea I shouldn’t wonder. I’m not convinced. The word “truck” would certainly turn me off buying one. No, I’ll stick with sports utility, UTE, or SUV thanks very much. Truck will never catch on, will it?
With the closure of Australian manufacturing, GM will have the chance to import more of its international range. Holden will be launching a total of 20 new models by 2020, which once sounded like a long time away but is now just around the corner.
There is a stunning range of accessories, and a cabin that feels modern and surprisingly comfortable. I like the way it drives on the road, which is where most of us will use it. It feels more sure footed than HiLux, more comfortable than Ranger. The Z71 is the range topper and looks fantastic replete with body coloured kit and inbuilt Tourneau cover. The cover a lot easier to use than Ranger’s roller-door affair which has a nasty habit of catching unsuspecting fingers. If $57,190 plus on-roads sounds steep, compare it to the 60 grand the current favourite, Ranger Wildtrack, will cost and you.
You’ll remember I bubbled on about the Wildtrack for ages. It looked like sex on wheels and made me come over all butch, saying things like “maaaaaaaaate”, and “OI” and “DUDE!”. I still like it of course, but the Z71 would give me a severe “decision headache” as I vacillated to the point of dementia.
You get a lot of car for your money, and with a canopy, is far more versatile than a regular SUV. The poor old Colorado took a bashing on those tracks, and it gave me time to grill the engineer about the longevity of long exposure to these conditions. I tried hard to fault the Colorado considering how luke-warm I was previously. There isn’t anything to dislike, but it is the top model for me.
Would I buy one? Yes, if I was ever to be in the market for a large versatile SUV
*all models include lifetime capped price service
2.8L Duramax Diesel Engine
– Iron cylinder block and aluminium DOHC cylinder head
– 147kW power and 500Nm torque (auto) / 440Nm torque (manual)
Single Cab Chassis LS – 4×2 $29,490
Single Cab Chassis LS – 4×4 $37,490
Space Cab Chassis LS – 4×4 $40,990
Space Cab Pickup LTZ – 4×4 $48,990
Crew Cab Chassis LS – 4×2 $34,490
Crew Cab Chassis LS – 4×4 $43,490
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×2 LS $35,990
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×2 LT $38,990
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×2 LTZ $42,490
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 LS $44,990
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 LT $46,990
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 LTZ $50,490
Crew Cab Pick Up – 4×4 Z71 $54,990