2009 Holden Colorado review and offroad test
Horses for courses; This horse prefers the offroad course
- 2009 Holden Colorado LT-R manual dualcab - $46,690
- Metallic Paint $400
Thrifty, strong engine; excellent suspension travel; good gearing Loose gearshift; on road dynamics
You've seen the ad on TV. A load of gravel gets slammed into the back of the tray. The front end launches off a ridge and bounces off the deck. An entire engine is shoved in the back. Yes, the Holden Colorado is shown to be a strong, well-built workhorse.
While its all well and good to advertise with loud music, abusive treatment and flashy titles, the Colorado is going to have to live up to a bit more. The ute market is already burgeoning, and with Isuzu's D-Max stealing some of the limelight, what's going to bring the buyers?
Sure, price counts for some of it. But it's also how the cars will be used that's going to interest people. Are you going to use it for work, or play? Are you going off-road, or staying on the asphalt?
Last time we review this car, Matt Brogan wasn't impressed, to say the least. The road dynamics infamously shone like a bright red lighthouse. To be fair, Matt's automatic-equipped car didn't really show off the engine, unlike our manual version here, but the rest of the car was identical.
Unfortunately, the interior really lets it down, with el-cheapo plastics, and a fit and finish that is just cringe-worthy. For example, there's no reason the two pieces of plastic between the clock and the four-wheel-drive selector on the dash could've been just one. The unsightly, uneven gap between them just draws your eye straight to it.
Then the gearshift feels like your bashing a bowl of custard with a stick. It's ridiculously loose, with a gate that's completely undefined. It's not helped by a gear lever which is too tall, either. Add steering which is wooden and unwieldy and you're thinking, "I'm gonna steer well clear of this one".
Well, not quite.
You see, while the Colorado is hopeless on road (no, that's not an exaggeration), it's a totally different story off the black top. On the road out to the test area, we were lamenting its rolly-polly stance, the leaf springs that were too firm, and the woeful steering.
But coming onto the beach, after letting the tyre pressures down, suddenly a revelation occurs. The Colorado is finally happy. Soft sand and rear-wheel-drive hardly ever mix, yet the Holden kept on powering through, without having to resort to using the front wheels.
Finally, approaching some long inclines, the need for four-wheel-drive took over, and with a simple click of a button, you're there. Then it's down to business. Using four-wheel high, the Colorado was more than adequate for beach hopping, and even if you had to suddenly halt, there was no issues with getting going again, despite the hungry conditions. Thank the 245mm wide tyres for that.
If you needed to really grunt up a hill, then low range is perfect, but really what helps here is the suspension travel.
It's long, and sprung well enough to quickly shoot back into any dips, thereby maintaining grip in rutty conditions. It's not particularly pleasant when on the black top, but off it, it's brilliant.
Approaching one hill we know quite well, normally you'd have to get a fair bit of speed up, as the dips halfway up really wash all your speed off. The Colorado could take off from a standstill at the bottom, and still climb the entire hill, with no slowdown for the rutted section.
Amazing stuff. It's not just the suspension that helps here. there's also the 3.0-litre diesel motor. Sure, it's not the most refined unit out there, but the turbo spins up so quickly, that even in varying-grip situations, any sudden jolts or big suspension hits mean that the engine never bogs down.
The abundance of torque from very low revs is a real highlight of this car, something that I must say, was quite unexpected. Combine that with gear ratios, which are perfect in both high and low ranges, and you'll find the car's capabilities quite refreshing.
It's also solidly built, too. When ploughing through the dunes, the front bumper needs to be well fixed to avoid a dislocation. The Colorado's body work suffered no risk of dislodging, despite being manhandled to an extent. Even going through rutted corrugations, it never rattled to pieces.
Holden's work hack, therefore, is well suited to an off-the-beaten-track skew. Even though it will never live up to the brilliance of the Mazda BT-50/Ford Ranger on the road, nor have the market share of Toyota's HiLux, the Colorado's excellent engine (in manual form at least) and suspension clearance and travel means it will have buyers - but only if they bargain hard. The price is getting up there.
And then they'll have to ignore the interior!
CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:
- Engine: 2999cc OHV four-cylinder (eight-valve)
- Power: 120kW @ 3600rpm
- Torque: 333Nm @ 1600rpm
- Induction: Common-rail & turbocharged
- Transmission: Five speed dual-range manual
- Differential/Driven Wheels: LSD/four-wheel
- Brakes: Disc/drum, ABS with EBD
- Top Speed: Not Tested
- 0-100km/h: 13.3 seconds
- CO2 Emissions: 237g/km
- Fuel Consumption: 9.0 litres per 100km
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 76 litres
- Fuel Type: Diesel
- ANCAP Rating: Three star*
- Airbags: Dual front
- Spare Wheel: Full size alloy
- Tow Capacity: 3000kg (Braked)
- Turning Circle: 12.6 metres
- Warranty: 3 year/100,000km
- Weight: 1922kg (Tare)/968kg (Payload)
- Wheels: Alloy 16 x 7.0-inch