2015 Holden Colorado road test review | Truck's softer side
THINK of it as adding some moisturiser to the hands of a robust Australian outback worker.
Holden has given its tough Colorado ute and seven-seat sports utility vehicle an interior spruce-up and its range-topping models a quieter ride with no price change.
The changes are in response to customer feedback in this segment, with the Colorado Holden's second biggest seller behind Commodore.
While sales have slowed this year in the previously booming commercial vehicle segment, the Thailand-produced Colorado has been bucking the trend with numbers up about 12% so far this year.
Marketing director Bill Mott aptly called these latest changes "refinement" additions, and we travelled to the salubrious surrounds of Noosa's north shore to check out the Colorado's softer side.
Previous variants attracted fair criticism for a bland interior.
Up-spec LTZ variants have been at the receiving end of a much-needed makeover, with glossy black features on the centre stack and doors, along with a new black colour scheme around the instruments.
While relatively superficial, it delivers a more up-market cabin ambience. Hard plastics are still used throughout the cabin, although it's hardly a deal-breaker for those shopping for a tough off-roader which is sure to cop a fair beating from the family.
Also making giant steps forward is the interior serenity.
Holden engineers undertook a heap of testing to lessen the road rumble and engine noise - evaluations even included stints in the Monash University wind tunnel. Additional sound deadening material has been added and particular attention paid to door sill profiles and seals, while build processes were also improved.
Don't expect it to ride like a Lexus but the advances - rated as about 5-7% better than the old model - are noticeable, although the diesel clatter is still prevalent.
Dual cab models offer leather as an option, and we actually preferred the cloth trim. It feels more supportive, although the leather is handy for its cleanliness.
On the road
"Comfort" and "truck" has traditionally been an oxymoron but the dual cab LTZ now has a "comfort suspension" set-up.
Given LTZ buyers spend a fair amount of time on the bitumen, engineers have managed to smooth-out the rough and tumble by reducing front and rear spring rates and retuning dampers.
This means those in the back no longer need a kidney belt, with a much-improved ride, particularly over small and medium bumps.
The SUV unfortunately doesn't get the same treatment due to a different rear suspension set-up.
It doesn't deliver car-like handling, with the core values of the Colorado being tough and capable.
The hulking units certainly proved that during our trek, stepping off the bitumen onto some loose gravel, and then getting across the sandy tracks of the Cooloola National Park. Nothing posed a real challenge and, with the switch from two- to four-wheel drive via a console dial, the Colorados never looked like getting stuck.
What do you get?
All variants get the noise and vibration improvements, but the key changes come in the specification of the range-topping models.
LTZ trucks get the comfort suspension, improved piano black interior finishes, optional heated leather front seats, 17.7cm colour touch-screen with embedded apps and option for BringGo sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio, auxiliary and USB ports, climate controlled air con, and five-star safety with a rear view camera.
The Colorado 7 LTZ may not have the cushy suspension but they do receive the same specification, along with an automatic transmission and leather trim as standard.
Those suspension tweaks in the LTZ variants mean sacrifices in the payload. The crew cab pick ups can carry about 250kg less in the back, although that won't worry too many. Holden research has shown more than half of LTZ buyers don't put anything of substance in the back anyway.
Storage options abound; there is a dual glove box, small cubby for phones and MP3 players above the MyLink screen and a deep centre console.
Bottle holders are in each door, dual cup holders in the centre, pop-out cup holders on either side of the dash, and cup holders in the third row of the SUV.
For those carrying kids, accessing the tether strap point can be a challenge in the dual cab, requiring arms at full stretch to drop the seat-back.
Without towing or hefty loads, expect fuel consumption of about nine litres for every 100km. Holden proudly trumpets its capped price servicing offer, especially for those weighing up the Colorado against Isuzu offerings, while the lion badge has one of the best spreads of dealerships you'll find.
You won't spot a MY15 variant from the outside - they are identical.
Buyers do like their upgrades, and there are a heap of optional extras for some bling.
There is the black edition pack for $3995, which includes a hard tonneau cover and black sports bar and nudge bar, bonnet protector, weathershields and two iPad cradles for rear-seat passengers
Tweaked and massaged, the Colorado has received some minor modern-day manscaping.
Without losing the essence of truck, it becomes more likeable for day-to-day activities. While the softer LTZ suspension in the dual cab has the trade-off of less payload, this should pose no issue for buyers. The Colorado remains good value and likeable for those who follow through with their off-roading ambition.
What matters most
What we liked: Flashy black finishes, cabin improvements are noticeable, still loves it rough and tough.
What we'd like to see: More supple leather seat material, comfort suspension in the SUV.
Warranty and servicing: Three years/100km warranty with one year roadside assist. Servicing is at 15,000km or nine month intervals. Capped price servicing covers the first four services for the first three years or 60,000km - maximum price is $295 (first 3000km service is free).
Model: Holden MY15 RG Colorado.
Details: Four-wheel drive ute five-seat dual cab ute or seven-seat large SUV.
Engine: 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 147kW @ 3600rpm and peak torque of 500Nm @ 2000rpm (440Nm @ 2000rpm for manual models).
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Towing capacity: 3.5 tonnes on ute models, 3.0 tonnes on SUV. Tow ball load 350kg. One tonne payload on most utes, 175kg less on LTZ.
Consumption: Between 7.6-9.1 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: Crew-cab pick-up 4x4 LS $44,990, LT $45,990, LTZ $50,490. Colorado 7 4x4 $47,490 (a), LTZ $50,990 (a).