Colorado ute looks good, is capable

Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab.
Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab.

People buy utes for a variety of reasons.

For some, it's purely their workhorse characteristics; for others, it's because they recognise that these days utes can be comfortable and practical family transport.

That explains why these days an enormous number of utes, particularly the double-cab versions, are being sold in New Zealand. It also explains why every manufacturer worth its salt has a ute in its model lineup.

Holden didn't have a ute in its lineup for several months. It wasn't because it didn't want to have one - it was because, right at the time it was running out of its previous-generation Colorado, the big floods in Thailand prevented a start to production of the new model.

And that all happened right at the time when other flash new utes were arriving on the scene, particularly Ford's Ranger and Mazda's BT-50.


POWER PLANT: 2.8-litre in-line four cylinder turbodiesel engine, 132 kW at 3800 rpm, 440 Nm at 2000 rpm with manual transmission as tested.

RUNNING GEAR: Selectable four-wheel drive. Five-speed manual transmission. Double wishbone front suspension, leaf springs at the rear. Stability control, ABS brakes.

HOW BIG: Length 5347mm, width 1882mm, height 1780mm, wheelbase 3096mm.

HOW MUCH: $59,990.

WHAT'S GOOD: Good looks, sturdy chassis, superb towing capability.

WHAT'S NOT: Diesel engine can be noisy.

OUR VERDICT: This new Colorado is a major improvement on the model it replaces, and in many respects is now up there with the major opposition.

It's hard to say how much sales impetus was lost during this supply hiatus.

What is known is that Holden's brand new 15-model Colorado ute range has now arrived in New Zealand, and that, last month at least, it achieved sales ahead of forecast.

When this model first arrived, Holden New Zealand managing director Jeff Murray said he was hoping for sales of at least 150 a month.

Last month, the sales totalled 161, which placed the ute in fourth place on the popularity ladder behind the Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara.

Given that big gap covering several months of availability of the Colorado, Holden New Zealand will have to be happy with that.

So, now that Colorado is here, what are the major reasons why people would want to buy it?

The opening reason is that it is a good-looking ute.

I've just been driving a top-of- the-range 2.8-litre turbodiesel LT-Z double-cab model - called crew-cab by Holden - and the immediate impression is that it has appealing lines.

This ute was developed at General Motors' design studio in Brazil, and because the intention was for Colorado to be a 'world' vehicle the designers received feedback from design clinics in Brazil, Thailand and Australia.

As a result it is a chunky- looking ute with a strong frontal design featuring a particularly bold grille.

I'm told the design of the instrument cluster in the interior was inspired by the Chevrolet Camaro, and I suppose it does have a sporty look. Overall however, the interior is more utilitarian than sporting, but it is well thought-out and it does work well.

The interior design simplicity extends to a nice little dial located on the centre console that can be used to select whichever four- wheel-drive modes are desired, and other design elements I enjoyed are the circular air- conditioning controls, and high location of the electric window buttons.

Front seats are comfortable and the driver position is very good, and there's good room for those in the rear seats.

So I'd certainly buy this ute for its looks and interior design elements.

What else? Another reason people would want to choose a Colorado is because of its towing capability. This ute cleans out the opposition with its ability to tow a braked trailer weighing up to 3500 kg.

That's a very heavy weight, which means Colorado is capable of towing just about everything thanks to its combination of a tough ladder-frame chassis and a very hefty towbar setup.

Even the smaller-engined 2.5-litre models can tow up to 3000 kg braked, and all models are capable of towing up to 750 kg unbraked, which means they can all haul normal household trailers and small boats.

Now let's look at the engines.

Both are called Duramax by GM, they are in-line fours, and both have been developed by VM Motori which is owned by Italy's Fiat Group.

The 2.8-litre version develops 132 kilowatts of power, and its interesting to note that the five- speed manual that I drove offers 440 newton metres of torque while the same engine mated to the six- speed automatic transmission develops 470Nm.

I couldn't quite figure out why, but no matter. What is important is that this engine develops 10 per cent more power and up to 40 per cent (in the case of the auto) more than the 3.0-litre turbodiesel powertrain it replaces.

My immediate impression of this new engine is that it is rather noisy.

It produces a lot more diesel clatter than the in-line fives that are under the bonnets of the Ranger and the BT-50, for example.

It's not overpowering, just a little surprising - I thought that these days the new-age diesels didn't need to have such engine noise.

This isn't to say the Duramax engine isn't a good unit, because it is.

During the days I had the Colorado for road test it poured down every time I drove it, so I didn't dare take it out into really rough country for fear that I would become stuck in mud or slide somewhere untoward, so the off-road experience was quite restricted.

But, suffice to say, the engine felt strong, and I'm convinced it would be capable of taking the Holden ute just about anywhere. It is also nice and flexible for normal around-town use, although if I had the choice I wouldn't go for the manual - changing the gears proved too much of a hassle for my liking.

Overall, this new Colorado is an appealing addition to what is now a stellar lineup of double-cab utes available in New Zealand.

We really are spoiled for choice, and what makes the Holden significant is that combination of towing ability and obvious ruggedness.

Taranaki Daily News