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Road Test: Holden Colorado

Review by Feann Torr - 8/August/2008

Holden Colorado reviewThe Rodeo light commercial vehicle has been around for a quarter of century in Australia, and in spirit it will remain so.

But the name has changed: this is now the Holden Colorado.

Because of a change in the business relationship between Isuzu - who builds the ute - and General Motors, the Colorado name will adorn the rear tray of the new light commercial utility range.

But it's not just the name that has changed.

Holden has has tightened a few nuts and bolts, added a new lick of paint and included a few more features to sweeten the deal, and as we discovered it's still got a hard working attitude.

While the light commercial vehicle market is populated by similarly priced and specified vehicles, Holden is confident that the new Colorado can attract attention, and a new entry-level price of $17,990 won't hurt its chances.

Make: Holden
Model: Colorado
Price: $17,990 - $45,990
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 3.6-litre 6-cylinder petrol, 3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Seats: 2 or 5
Safety: 2 airbags (driver/front passenger (x2)), ABS, EBD
Car Supplier: GM Holden

Holden Colorado review

Holden Colorado is an evolution of the Rodeo

Holden Colorado review

Holden Colorado review

With more than 30 different variants, Holden
has got all its bases covered with the Colorado

Holden Colorado Pricing

4x2 Single Cab Chassis
- DX 2.4 litre, 4-cylinder $17,990
- LX 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $24,990
- LX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $27,990

4x2 Space Cab Chassis
- LX 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $27,990

4x2 Space Cab Pick Up
- LX 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $27,990

4x2 Crew Cab Pick Up
- LX 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $30,490
- LX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $33,990
- LT-R 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $34,990

4x4 Single Cab Chassis
- DX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $31,990
- LX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $35,990

4x4 Space Cab Chassis
- LX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $39,990

4x4 Crew Cab Chassis
- LX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $42,290

4x4 Crew Cab Pick Up
- LX 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $39,990
- LX 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $40,990
- LT-R 3.6 litre, V6 Alloytec $43,990
- LT-R 3.0 litre, VCDi Turbo Diesel $45,990

Holden Colorado review

Holden Colorado review

Holden's Colorado has two different grades of
interior, including the entry-level models (top)
and the range-topping LT-R with sports gauges

Holden Colorado review

Holden Colorado review

Holden Colorado review

Holden's new Colorado can tow up to 3000kg
of braked trailer and is plenty confident off-road

The Rodeo name may have been scrapped in favour of 'Colorado', but the essence of Holden's tough commercial utes have remained.

During our drive time in the new model, we drove most models across a range of different surfaces, from highways and country B-roads to rutted dirt roads, gravel lanes and even through some boggy off-road tracks in the Wombat State Forest.

There are differences between the new Holden Colorado and its predecessor, and these are first noticed in the exterior design.

Holden's new commercial ute gets redesigned headlight units that work quite well and give the Colorado a hardy, utilitarian look, and overall it comes across as a fairly tough design thanks to angular styling of the front end.

Other changes to the design include body-coloured wheel arches, new bonnets (and scoops for diesel models) and new look brake lights and tailgates, plus the interiors have also come in for a bit of refurbishment.

All models, even the poverty pack DX model, come with driver and passenger airbags, ABS, EBD, CD stereo, new cloth trims, and the seats are pretty comfy too. They provide solid support and the headrests aren't useless either, which is good to see.

The driving position isn't too bad and the 4x4 models have a higher ride height which gives you a commanding view of the road.

Ergonomics in the cabin are not brilliant, but they are improved somewhat so the basic switchgear and controls are where you'd expect and fall easily to hand. 

But these are workhorses after all, and for what you pay you get a pretty good deal, especially the 4x4 models.

Holden has added a new model to the range, the LT-R, which is the sports model and this gets a better interior than its siblings with an improved stereo, updated instrument panel with a few extra digital readouts and higher quality upholstery. 

The LT-R models do command a price premium, but there's more to this model than just a snazzy interior.

Like most of the new Colorado models, the LT-R is offered in both 4x2 and 4x4 guises, and adds a range of leisure features to back up the utility. 

Things like Bluetooth and rear parking sensors make everyday chores a bit easier, and eye candy like the sports bar, side steps, front fog lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels enhance the sports aesthetic.

On the road the entry-level 4x2 Colorado models go pretty well, with the 5-speed manual the more inspired of the two gearbox options. The other is a 4-speed automatic.

The manual cog swapper is quite smooth when shifting between gates and the clutch is very friendly too, making the whole thing easy to use. The manual gearbox is particularly good when paired to the 3.0-litre diesel engine.

On the topic of engines, there are three in total, two petrol and one diesel mill:

4-cylinder petrol (2.4-litre)
Power: 92kW @ 4800rpm
Torque: 207Nm @ 3200rpm

6-cylinder petrol (3.6-litre)
Power: 157kW @ 5300rpm
Torque: 313Nm @ 2800rpm

4-cylinder diesel (3.0-litre)
Power: 120kW @ 3600rpm
Torque: 360Nm @ 1800rpm (manual)
Torque: 333Nm @ 1600rpm (auto)

Fuel consumption is most impressive for the diesel models, which range from 7.9 litres per 100km (manual single cab chassis) and up to 9L/100km for larger models equipped with the 4-speed automatic.

The Alloytec V6 fuel consumption is claimed at 12.5 litres per 100km (manual crew cab pickup) and rises to 13.7L/100km for automatic variants. The 4-pot petrol engine fitted to the DX manual uses 11.8 litres per 100km.

Though it doesn't sound like much at 92 kilowatts, the 4-cylinder petrol engine has adequate shunt to push the Colorado SX single cab's 1332kg bulk, but it's the 3.6-litre Alloytec V6 engine that really impresses.

Based on the same engine block as the Holden Commodore's 3.6-litre V6, only without the variable valve timing, the Colorado's 3.6-litre engine has plenty of mid-range torque, and feels strong from as low as 2500rpm.

The V6 engine motivates the 4x2 single cabs with ease, especially with the 5-speed manual models, while the space and crew cabs add a bit more weight so performance isn't quite as crisp.

If you opt for the 4x4 models, the weight increases yet again, with the 4x4 LT-R crew cab pickup the lardiest of the lot weighing up to 1932kg.

The diesel engine is also quite good, developing 360Nm in the manual models, and has a huge torque down low which makes it ideal for towing. As soon as the revs reach 3000rpm it's time to change gear as the acceleration drops off.

Holden's 3.0-litre diesel is an efficient engine too, but in terms of performance feel I think the Ford Ranger has slightly more muscle.

Only the base model DX single cab chassis gets the 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine and this variant is not available with the 4-speed auto. 

But that's not a bad thing because the 4-speed automatic saps engine power and torque and feels less responsive when you bang full throttle.

Ride quality on both the 4x2 and 4x4 models is not too bad, with enough compliance to ensure rutted and pot-holed gravel roads don't unduly affect the vehicle's direction, and general highway driving is fairly relaxed as well.

Of course, these types of vehicles do have fairly stiff rear suspension to ensure that load bearing is not compromised, so there is a bit of rear end jounce over some bumps and ruts. 

Generally speaking however, the idea of using the Colorado as a workhorse in the week and a leisure vehicle at the weekend is not unrealistic.

One thing we did notice when barreling down poorly maintained gravel roads was that the rear end had a tendency to kick out on 4x2 models on tighter corners and T-intersections. This could be a positive rather than a negative depending what kind of driver you are, but it highlighted the lack of any stability control system.

The steering has a bit of weight to it, but the power steering system means that punting the Colorado on both sealed and unsealed roads takes little effort. Cruise control is only factored in to high end models, but overall Holden's new commercial pick-up is a well sorted machine for daily duties.

We tested the 4x4 diesel and petrol models in the Lerderderg national park and Wombat state forest, and it's safe to say that they're capable off-road vehicles.

Navigating some exceedingly muddy and semi-technical 4WD tracks, the Colorado did remarkably well and the extra ride-height that's afforded to AWD models gives them plenty of scope for serious mud slinging.

The 4x4 models have three modes: 2H, 4H and 4L. The first mode, 2H, two-wheel drive and is used for everyday driving, 4H is for moderate off-roading and 4L comes in handy when you want to climb steep and slippery inclines or conquer more difficult terrain.

The 4x4 systems on the Colorado worked very well and the only thing that hampered progress along our boggy off-road course were the road tyres. 

When the wheels were caked with mud it was more difficult to maintain traction, but all in all the 4x4 Colorado models are confident mud slingers.

Diesel-powered 4x4 models also get a sump guard as standard, which is good if you plan on heading bush a fair bit.

The crew cab pickup models have enough room in the back bench for a couple of adults, as we discovered on a couple of our off-road excursions, and space cabs have a decent amount of room behind the front seats for tools and assorted equipment. 

The single cabs are pretty tight though.

Interestingly, all Colorado models still feature drum brakes at the rear axle, while the front brakes are discs. That said, this seems to be prevalent on most light commercial vehicles regardless of the badge or model.

Yet even with drum brakes at the rear, braking power isn't too bad in most circumstances. We drove some Colorado models laden with about 100kg of goods in the tray and even then ride, handling and braking wasn't adversely affected.

Towing is also an important feature of any light commercial vehicle, and the Holden Colorado has improved its haulage capacity, with the 4x4 diesel models able to tow a braked trailer weighing up to three tonnes (3000kg).The unbraked trailer maximum is 750kg.

By and large the new Colorado is a good package. It's not revolutionary in any respects but it builds on the strong foundations set by the Rodeo, and is an improved product as a result.

There's a lot of machinery to get your head around - more than 30 combinations involving chassis, gearboxes, ride heights, cabins and so forth - but amongst the range there's no real clunkers either. The Colorado doesn't push any boundaries or take any great risks, but it does deliver where it counts and has versatility in spades.

Overall: 3.5/5

The new Colorado proves quite convincingly that you can mix work and play, and while the 4x4 models are a bit heavier and little more expensive, there's a lot to be said of the Colorado's multi-tasking nature.

You can throw all sorts of junk in the tray during the week, then load it up with motor bikes and surfboards on Saturday, and even take the family to Nan's on Sunday in the crew cab 5-seater models.

While it sits on the same platform as the previous Rodeo, and will continue to do so for the next couple of years, there's no gaping holes in the design and it compares well with its light commercial rivals from Mitsubishi, Ford and Toyota.

With a competitive entry-level price of less than $18,000, more standard features than its predecessor, tough 4x4 setups, and a bold redesign, there's more to Holden's Colorado than just a new name.



  • V6 Alloytec Engine
  • Value For Money
  • Adaptability (4x4)
  • Versatility
  • No ESP
  • No Curtain Airbags
  • Low Tech 4-speed Auto

Comments on the review? The Car? Your Car? Email us.

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