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In what is becoming an annual occurrence, Holden has subtly upgraded and tweaked the Colorado ute and Colorado 7 SUV twins for 2015. You’ll need to look really closely to notice though, as you won’t see the changes from outside.
Neither sibling will have an easy time of it, with both the LCV and rugged SUV segments featuring a wide variety of makes and models fighting for the attention of buyers.
Colorado especially has a tough row to hoe. Think about the raft of high spec dual cab 4WDs you see on the road and you realise that Colorado has to go into battle in a segment that features the sales leader (HiLux), the refinement and packaging leader (Amarok) and the most authentic tough truck (Ranger).
Colorado pricing is sharp though, with the top spec LTZ crew cab 4WD model starting at $50,490. That compares to HiLux SR5 at $51,790, Amarok 4Motion TDI 420 Ulitmate at $62,990 and the Ranger Wildtrack at $57,390.
It’s tempting to suggest that Colorado 7 on the other hand will fight tooth and nail with the new Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X, but Holden claims it is also targeting Toyota Prado sales with its seven-seat SUV. Whatever the reality of the battleground facing Colorado 7, the fight won’t be an easy one to win.
You can read our Colorado and Colorado pricing and specification break down here.
It wasn’t that long ago that we reviewed the updated Colorado range, which itself came only 18 months after the initial launch. This upgrade included the addition of the MyLink multimedia system, uprated engine and transmissions, and improved safety credentials.
As an aside on MyLink, satellite navigation works via the BringGo app, which is available to both Android and Apple users. At the time of writing, this system costs $1.29 for the first 30 days of premium service. After that it costs $64.99 for the premium service or $74.99 for the premium service with map updates via: www.bringgo.com
During his review of the previous upgrade, colleague Alborz questioned the lack of improvement in ride and handling, and refinement. The good news is that Holden has listened to these concerns and acted.
There’s no doubt that the dual cab 4WD market, especially at the higher end, continues to grow. As such, Holden has ushered in some key changes to the top spec LTZ Colorado, though not lower-grade offerings.
The main issues arising from our testing of the outgoing model were a lack of interior refinement (excessive cabin noise) and a highly-strung ride, specifically the rear suspension. Crucially, Holden has spent serious time on those two key areas.
Holden director of marketing Bill Mott knows that most buyers of high end 4WD dual cabs are making the purchase on a lifestyle decision, not necessarily for work.
“These vehicles are no longer simply a basic work truck,” he said. “They are now required to be a weekday workhorse and a weekend warrior and they must offer a compelling value proposition.”
As such, the company spent many hours in the wind tunnel, with the aim being to reduce the intrusion of outside noise into the cabin.
It’s been a while since yours truly has driven a Colorado, but this new model is certainly quieter, and there’s a definite sense of calm in the cabin right up to 100km/h that wasn’t there before. You can still hear the diesel clattering away, but it’s not offensive. Wind and tyre noise intrusion has also been reduced. The acoustic improvements are range wide and also include Colorado 7.
Part of the revised insulation package includes redesigned seal profiles, tightened build tolerances and extensive wind tunnel testing as well, all aimed at reducing the amount of wind and tyre roar that enters the cabin.
The next area for attention was the ride, and Colorado LTZ now gets a revised suspension system. The ‘Comfort Suspension’ package includes revised spring rates and dampers and a stiffer front stabiliser. Don’t go thinking the Colorado handles like a car, it doesn’t, but it is certainly better than it was.
There’s still some of the skipping and jumping that comes from most dual cab 4WDs, and you need to remember that a vehicle designed to take close to 1000kg in the tray is never going to be perfect when it’s unladen. Load a Colorado up with 300-400kg and you suspect it would be an entirely different beast. Actually, that’s an idea for a future test… On that note, the Colorado LTZ with the comfort suspension package is the only model in the range that dips below a 1000kg payload.
Further evidence of the buyer profile of the LTZ model grade (both Colorado and Colorado 7) comes in the form of leather trim, heated front seats (standard for Colorado 7 LTZ, a $1500 option for crew cab Colorado LTZ), and piano black interior detailing with softer touch finishes than the previous model.
Our test vehicles at launch were all fitted with the optional trim package, and the interior definitely feels better for it. The cloth interior still makes sense for the Colorado despite $1500 being very reasonable for leather trim, but with the Colorado 7 being the all-round family car, the leather trim is an appealing inclusion for that model.
That said, interior plastics quality and trim levels feel a step behind some key rivals.
Colorado 7 doesn’t need the Comfort Suspension package, as it already has coil springs at all four corners and rides in a significantly more composed manner than the Colorado. Colorado 7 did need the interior refinement work though and like its truck sibling, the interior is far better for it.
Strong points for both vehicles include the muscular diesel engine, six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, and impressive towing capacities (3000kg for the Colorado 7, 3500kg for the Colorado). The 2.8-litre engine generates the same power and torque figures (147kW/440Nm with the manual and 147kW/500Nm with the auto) as the previous model, so there are no surprises there in terms of what it’s capable of.
Holden made the brave decision to point us in the direction of a challenging drive loop at launch. Smooth urban bitumen, bumpy coarse chip country back roads, rutted dirt and gravel and finally a lengthy slog through powdery beach sand. Both vehicles have always been capable off-road so there were no surprises once the going got a little tougher.
Watch our video about the Holden Colorado 7's approach and departure angles here.
Grip is exceptional thanks to the proper 4WD system that shifts into and out of high range smoothly on the move. On the beach, in high range, with the stability control deactivated, the Colorado twins ploughed ahead smoothly, the diesel barely needing to tick above idle to maintain forward progress.
The coarse chip country back roads and rutted dirt told the most interesting story. The Colorado especially was never perfectly settled, but crucially better than it was and never uncomfortable or scary at the posted speed limit. Closely-spaced ruts on the first section saw the dual cab bouncing around a bit, but most unladen dual cabs would over similar surfaces.
The Colorado 7 is in its element out of the city confines where the rich vein of torque keeps it cruising along nicely without ever working too hard. Delivering its power via either the automatic or the manual, the diesel engine is perfectly matched to long-legged country driving. Even after an extended slog along the sand, the indicated average fuel consumption only just crept above 11L/100km, with the number dropping into single digits (9.5L/100km) back on the open road and around town.
Alborz gave the range an overall score of 6 in his aforementioned review. The MY15 updates mean the Colorado and Colorado 7 get an extra half and creep up to 6.5 overall. Certainly this new range is a step ahead of the outgoing model - a small step, but a step nonetheless.
Both the Colorado and Colorado 7 are a step ahead from the superseded model. The problem they both face is simply the quality of the competition. There’s nowhere to hide in either segment with so many options available.
Holden fans can rest assured though that their favourite brand has listened to the criticism levelled at both vehicles and worked hard to rectify those points. Neither vehicle is perfect, but what the two models certainly reflect is a value equation for the buyer on a tighter budget.