Ute Tow Review: Holden Colorado ute

By: Load test: Fraser Stronach, Tow test: Matt Wood, Photography by: Ellen Dewar and Nathan Jacobs

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Holden Colorado ute close up Electromechanical steering and a new torque converter has transformed the Holden Holden Colorado ute close up
Concrete being loaded onto Holden Colorado ute Our bags of cement had to be stacked on a Euro skid to fit between the wheel arches of these utes Concrete being loaded onto Holden Colorado ute
Tying down load on Holden Colorado ute Tie-down points were an issue with some of these utes. In some cases, we just resorted to rope rather than straps Tying down load on Holden Colorado ute
Holden Colorado towing excavator uphill What a difference an update makes! The Colorado is now a much better ute with a load on Holden Colorado towing excavator uphill

Holden is calling its Colorado a ‘truck’ rather than a ute since its recent remake, but does that make it any better for hard work?


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The Holden Colorado you see here is the MY17 model, a major mid-generation upgrade that has been a ‘pull it right apart and put back together again’ exercise for Holden. The Colorado has been tweaked here and there since it arrived in 2012, but nothing like what has been put into this MY17 model in an effort to close the gap on the class frontrunners, especially in terms of refinement.

Holden Colorado ute on dirt road
The MY17 Holden Colorado ute


The Holden Colorado has four tie-down hooks in the tub of a decent size that accommodate the tie-down straps without a problem. Not much sag at the rear, either – around 60mm, which is as good as it gets in this company – with the 800kg pallet on board. With a total payload of 970kg (including driver, observer and tow-bar), the extra 800kg leaves around 115kg payload in the base-spec Colorado 4x4 dual-cab pick-up and just shy of 40kg in the top-spec Z71.

The Colorado’s 2.8-litre is notable in this company for having the most torque, a claimed 500Nm max, even better than the bigger 3.2-litre five-cylinder engines in the Ranger and BT-50. From previous experience, we know the 500Nm serves the Colorado well because, unladen at least, it’s the fastest accelerating of these automatic diesel 4x4 utes.

This 500Nm figure is unchanged for the MY17, but it’s now delivered in a more refined manner with significantly less noise and vibration than before. Better driveability, too.

The engine coped easily with the 800kg in the tub – as good as any here, although it generally revs harder than the bigger engines in the Ford and Mazda when climbing. This is probably due to the fact the Colorado’s max torque isn’t on tap until 2000rpm, whereas the Ford and the Mazda claim their max, although 30Nm less, at 1500 and 1750rpm respectively.

Still, the engine is a lot quieter and smoother than before, something you especially notice given the engine is working harder anyway carrying the extra 800kg. Compared to the Ranger and the Hilux in particular, it still gives a little away in noise refinement, but there’s not much in it.

For its part, the gearbox’s new torque convertor (part of the MY17 upgrade) has improved the shift quality noticeably, and the Colorado was the only gearbox to provide auto backshifts on hill descent without a ‘prompt’ via applying the brakes. Smart gear selection is on the way up too – it doesn’t hold the short gears too long or pick up the taller gear too early.

MY17 also means electric power steering for Colorado and, like the Ford, this means very little steering effort at parking speeds, a bonus with all the weight in the back. Like the Ford, the steering weighs up nicely with speed to give a good feel despite the 800kg tub load. General stability with the 800kg in the tub was fine, and the rear suspension didn’t feel to bottom out on any of the bumps over the course.

 

TOW TEST

The recently updated Colorado came into the fray with a point to prove and it was the only new vehicle in the test. In the past, its lack of refinement has let it down, even though it looks to have the goods on paper. And boy, the Colorado has made a great leap forward.

The 147kW/500Nm 2.8-litre is a little more hushed in the cab with the new acoustics package, and the whole driveline has been smoothed out with new mounts for the engine and transmission.

The Colorado took the weight of our load quite well. But bury the hoof and the Duramax donk is another engine that performs at a level above what its displacement may suggest. It squats and hauls really well with some pudding on its back. Power delivery is measured and civilised.

But the biggest leap forward for the lion-badged ute is the new centrifugal pendulum torque converter in front of the six-speed auto. The result is the smartest and most intuitive ‘box out of the bunch. Hauling uphill saw faster, smoother decisive changes, and it allowed the tacho needle to hang in the 2200rpm torque range easily under load.

There was no need for any manual intervention on descent as the tranny downshifted to hold back the weight. While the Colorado had its rougher edges smoothed out by this latest update, one area that let it down was the rear end. The Colorado lost a leaf spring time around, moving from a 3+2 to a 3+1 arrangement and it showed on the road. At max weight, the Holden feels a little soft and wiggly out back. 

Dual cab 4x4 ute reviews

 

HOLDEN COLORADO PRICE

Holden Colorado LS: $45,490

Holden Colorado LT: $46,490

Holden Colorado LTZ: $50,990

Holden Colorado Z71: $54,990

*4x4 dual-cab pick-up manuals only

 

HOLDEN COLORADO SPECS

Engine

2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel

Max power/torque

147kW/500Nm

Gearbox

Six-speed automatic

4x4 system

Dual-range part-time

Kerb weight

2065kg to 2143kg

GVM

3150kg

Payload

1007kg to 1085kg

Towing capacity

3500kg

Towball download (max)

350kg

GCM

6000kg

Fuel tank capacity

76 litres

ADR fuel claim

9.1 litres/100km

*4x4 dual-cab pick-up automatics only.

 

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