So there’s an updated Holden Colorado in town.
This simple fact may induce yawning in some and even vitriol in others. But I’ve been given pause to think since the media launch of the Thai-built Holden truck (that’s Holden speak for a ute).
I was initially pretty darned underwhelmed by the thought myself.
The Colorado has lagged behind the competition in terms of noise and refinement since day dot.
Even though it looks good on paper, the execution of the Holden four-by has always seemed a little coarse and ordinary in execution. I mean 147kW and 500Nm (auto) is nothing to sneeze at, but it just hasn’t been a very cohesive package in the past.
Given the massive growth of the 4x4 dual cab ute market and the resulting competition the Holden has possibly been a little commercial for today’s discerning utility buyer.
Maybe a little noisy and too tractor-like to cut it as a weekday mall-crawler and a weekend play rig?
As many are bought as a second family vehicle, it seems the bulk of metro buyers want their truck to be more like a car.
However, Holden has managed to pull the current generation Colorado into the present day with some significant advances in terms of performance and refinement.
And it seems that the Colorado has finally become the truck it should have been a few years ago.
What’s new with the 2017 Colorado?
A new dash leaves behind the generational lag of the previous model and electric power steering has been added.
I was initially sceptical about this particular feature because while I’m a fan of the Ford Ranger, one of the vehicles that the updated Colorado was benchmarked against, I’m not a fan of the Ford’s electric steering at low speed in the bush.
On top of that a new torque converter has been added to the 6-speed auto which increases transmission lock-out time when on the move. And to keep the decibels reasonable a revamped acoustic package dulls the traditionally coarse note of the 2.8-litre donk.
On the outside the Holden has been graced with a smoother face that does wonders to make it more contemporary.
GMH has also clued into the notion that very few of these utes hit the road un-adorned with accessories and as a result the company has come up with a range of accessories to kit out the Colorado in-house rather than let those dollars be spent at a 4x4 joint down the road.
That may sound a little cynical but bear in mind that these genuine bars and accessories have been designed to work in conjunction with the Colorado’s safety features.
And when it comes to safety, GM has added some key safety features that others in the 4x4 ute market currently aren’t offering.
The first and possibly most important is the addition of forward collision warning, which sets off an audio warning and flashes a red light on the windscreen if the forward facing radar detects a slow moving or stationary vehicle in its beam.
The other new feature is the addition of lane departure warning.
Admittedly this trick may be handy on a long boring freeway drive but on country roads it’s the first thing I turn off as the audio alarm bleeps through the cab and convinces your passengers that you’re either drunk or falling asleep rather than taking a tight line on a twisty bush road.
Holden’s general manager of product marketing Ben Lasry says that the company has taken a strong value stance on the new truck.
“We’ve taken a huge leap forward with this car,” he says. And this point was very clear with LTZ pricing dropping $500.00 while the blingy-stripey Z71 ticket price remains unchanged.
But it was lead product engineer Amelinda Watt who cast the most light on the changes within the Colorado’s innards.
The EPS has scored a faster rack and has benefited from much of the work done on the VF Commodore, suspension has copped as retune and there are new engine and transmission mounts.
“We’ve put a lot of VF Commodore into the steering of this truck, says Watt.”
Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber
The most impressive addition is the Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter within the automatic ‘box.
The self-shifter gets more torque than its stick-shift stable mate but in the past was pretty agricultural under load.
The addition of CPA takes a lot of the engine flare out of the equation between shifts by locking out the torque converter more often while driving. This also helps the fuel economy equation.
Watt says that, “CPA torque converters are more commonly found in premium diesel passenger cars, its introduction is a first for the truck segment in Australia which is exciting.
“The CPA torque converter helps reduce engine noise and vibration by cancelling out torsional vibrations in the driveline normally felt in the cabin.
“The added benefit to the CPA is the ability to apply a revised transmission calibration strategy with results in driveability and fuel economy improvements.”
The home engineering team for Colorado is actually based in Brazil, yet this time around the Aussie engineers had more input than ever when it came to updating the platform.
What has been a predominantly work truck in overseas markets is a lifestyle machine here in Oz and on this occasion the Aussies got a little more fruit in their basket to satisfy local expectations.
“This vehicle is absolutely unique to Australia and New Zealand,” says Watt.
Climbing inside there’s no doubt that the Colorado is indeed a nicer place to be. Gone is the old stacked console in the middle of the dash and has been replaced and the MyLink multi-media touch screen with all the associated apps sits perched above it all.
Fire up the four-pot diesel and it’s immediately clear that the powerplant is indeed quieter.
But the most impressive improvement in the Colorado from the driver’s seat is how it rides, steers and handles. It corners flatter and has much less wiggle and jiggle in the ride, even when empty.
Some of the vehicles we drove at the launch were loaded with 200kg and others with 500kg. Previous generation Colorados used a 3+2 leaf spring arrangement in the rear; this has been revised to a 3+1 for a more supple ride.
The operation of the auto ‘box is much easier to live with; it’s quieter, smoother and performs much better than before. The cogs swap with a lot less fuss and muddle.
Downshifts while braking under load are also quite intuitive and help haul a loaded truck down a hill.
The old rough on-road edges of the Holden have been rounded off on this update. However, for those who spend a little more time in four-wheel-drive not a great deal has changed.
There are still no diff-locks with Holden opting for LSD instead. Of course the old shift on the fly selector dial is still there but the Colorado’s stability control and hill descent control has been recalibrated.
The Holden does quite well off-road and the descent control is excellent and reasonably quiet in operation.
As you’d expect towing remains at the 3,500kg benchmark of this segment.
It’s taken a while but it seems that the Holden Colorado has caught up to where it should’ve been some time ago.
The Colorado has become a much more refined vehicle without losing its working sensibilities.
We’ll be putting it to work in the very near future. Stay tuned.