Holden's working-class truck with SUV styling

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 07:30 29/05/2013

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I am sure Holden will forgive me for describing its Colorado7 as a working-class SUV. Because that's what it is.

HOLDEN COLORADO 7 LTZ
Power plant: 2.8-litre Duramax in-line four-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engine, 132 kW at 3800 rpm, 470 Nm at 2000 rpm.
Running gear: Part-time 4WD system with dual range and two-speed transfer case. Six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select. Independent double wishbone front suspension, five-link live axle rear suspension. Limited slip differential, hill-descent control.
How big: Length 4878mm, width 2131mm, height 1820mm, wheelbase 2845mm, ground clearance 231mm (LTZ).
How much: $66,900.
What's good: Honest new SUV with solid off-road ability.
What's not: Lack of rear cargo room with all seats in use. They don't fold down flat, either.
Our verdict: Holden is not describing the Colorado 7 as a soft-roader, and that's a good idea. This is a truck – and a capable one, too.
Right now an increasing number of all-wheel drive monocoque-chassis soft-roaders that are biased more towards performance on the seal rather than off it are entering the new-vehicle market .

But the Colorado 7 is an SUV developed from a proper hardworking ute, and therefore boasts a full-frame ladder chassis, grunty diesel engine, and four-wheel drive with proper high-low ratios.

The big Holden does make some concession to a need to provide a better on-road ride than a traditional ute by having a coil-spring rear axle rather than leaf springing. But that's about all - and that's why despite the fact it has some sophistication about it, underneath that SUV styling it is very much working-class.

And that's OK, too.

Colorado 7 effectively replaces the Holden Jackaroo of 10 years ago, and it has been designed for sturdy workhorse roles - leading the soft-roader crossover duties to the smaller and more urbane Captiva.

Some months ago when Colorado 7 was introduced to the Australasian media at a function based out of Melbourne, the drive programme included some extremely heavy work through forested hillcountry that at times required low-ratio first-gear to be selected. It handled it beautifully, making good use of the 2.8-litre turbodiesel's power and torque to drag itself along the intended route. So when I recently received a high-specification LT-Z version for road test on home soil, there was no need to take the Colorado 7 seriously off the road. Instead I was content to use the vehicle for normal everyday motoring, which no doubt involves on-road duties almost all of the time.

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As soon as you step into - or should that be up, because the Colorado 7 does have 231mm of ground clearance - it immediately becomes apparent this is one solid truck.

The two front seats are big-bloke big, and the second row of seats can be reclined for extra comfort if required. A nice touch is that while that row is big enough to accommodate three adults, it's much better for two because a big centre armrest complete with drinks holders can be folded down. The third row is designed to take two people in fairly cramped seating, and I found it much better to fold the seats down and open up more load space than the pretty hopeless 235 litres that is available when all three rows of seats are in use. Quite obviously the third row is there only to be used when the Colorado7 is needed to carry seven people. In every other circumstance the seats will be folded out of the way so the user can access a total of 878 litres of load space while still having seating for five. And when the second row is folded down that increases again to up to 1830 litres.

During the time I had the vehicle for testing I found that amount of space easily sufficient for me to protect the interior with a tarpaulin and use the big Holden to cart heaps of garden waste to the local refuse tip.

Well ... it's a working-class SUV, isn't it?

Out on the open road this Holden doesn't have the same on-seal ride as, say, a Ford Territory. But it isn't far away from that, thanks to the comfortable seats, a spacious interior, and a high level of specification.

Colorado 7 is available at two levels of specification. The entry LT model boasts side steps, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker audio system with USB and iPod connectivity. Our LTZ featured 18-inch alloys, the leather seat trim, six-way electric adjustability of the driver's seat, eight-speaker stereo, climate control air conditioning, and some extra chrome detailing. There's an array of safety features including dual front and full-length side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, all of which has helped the vehicle achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The Colorado7 is identical to the ute back to the B-pillar, and powering the SUV is the same Duramax diesel engine as that under the bonnet of the ute, and it is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's a meaty if quite noisy engine, featuring an old-world clatter at idle. But it can haul, and that's what is important for this new truck.

Colorado 7's all-wheel-drive system can be engaged on the fly, although the vehicle must be stationary to drop down into low ratio. The vehicle also has a limited slip differential and hill descent control to help make it capable of taking on some pretty tough terrain.

Overall, while it is obvious the Holden Colorado 7 is based on the Colorado ute, it can rightfully take its place in the big SUV ranks. The big difference is that, just like society where some members are bigger and more robust than others, this SUV is a toughie.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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