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We Test Drive The 2017 Holden Colorado LTZ: A Tradie with Muscle!

We Test Drive The 2017 Holden Colorado LTZ: A Tradie with Muscle!

First impressions are important, right? They say it takes around four seconds to make a judgement when you encounter someone or something new, thirty seconds later judgement is usually final.

Four seconds is next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, yet you can see how important those four seconds are. Marketing and design departments are acutely aware of this, all trying to one-up each other to gain our attention. So why mention this?

When getting a first look at the 2017 Colorado LTZ, it had me thinking, man what a big bus but it sure looks tough. Big doesn't necessarily mean bad, it is a tradie-vehicle afterall and it comes with the territory and it wouldn't be much chop if it weren't. My 12-year-old summed it up nicely delivering real gold when he said, "Wow Dad, it looks like a muscle car". Taking a step back, I cast my eye over this bad boy and thought, bloody hell, he's right. There is definitely a hint of Camaro in the Colorado's lines and no doubt, the Colorado can flex.

Designed by GM, built by Isuzu in Thailand and clearly influenced by current Chevrolet design language, the Colorado's looks almost tread on new ground. They'd be better off calling it an MUV (Muscle Utility Vehicle) because amongst its competition it's the best looking. No matter which angle you look from, it punches you in the face. The daytime running lights look particularly sweet and the wheel arches make it look like a flexed body builder. The rear chrome sports bar is stamped boldly with the Colorado emblem it all suggests something a bit special. Is it too American? I don't think so. Even though it is sold globally, it looks and feels Aussie-Tough, more than able to cope with our harsh conditions.

The good stuff does not stop at the exterior. The LTZ version of this Colorado is a nice place to spend time. Comfort and class come to mind when entering the generously roomy cabin. I felt it was just too good to be used as a tradie's car. Fit, finish and presentation are very car-like. I'd literally cry if someone put his or her muddy work boots on the carpet. The LTZ is one model down from the top of the range Z71, which includes leather trim - Leather trim on a tradie? What the...? As it is, the seat trim on the LTZ is a combination of smart looking cloth and some sort of suede like material. Is it practical for a trade vehicle? Probably not, but it sure looks cultured. In fact, the Colorado as a whole is all-class, aimed more at the building supervisor or architect than say a carpenter or a brickie. You'll use it to check up on job progress and do the odd emergency delivery to site. When the day is over, you can pick up the significant other and take them to the theatre –it's unlikely the LTZ will be out of place.

Look, if you are a brickie, carpenter, plumber, etc. and you need a genuine five-seat crew cab with 4x4, you are probably better off going for the cheaper LS or LT which still have most of the driver tech and the same brilliant drive train. It will be easier to live with when the interior cops a shellacking from the rough and tumble of work abuse.

To be honest, I did not expect much from the Colorado LTZ. My idea of a tradesman's vehicle was boring, rough, agricultural, truck-like and not at all fun. This now, couldn't be further from the truth. When I first sat behind the wheel I thought, I don't remember work vehicles being like this. I go to adjust the driver seat expecting old school mechanical controls and nope, it's all-electric with two memory settings. This bent my perceptions out of shape - for around $58k drive away with all the fruit fitted, this is one seriously equipped machine. With seat and ancillaries adjusted, I look out of the vehicle to see a commanding panoramic view and you sit considerably higher than the rest of the traffic around you. Visibility over the left shoulder is very good, however, over the right shoulder, some care is required as the B-pillar is quite intrusive. Not to worry, though, the Colorado LTZ is fitted with a suite of safety features such as lane departure warning, forward collision alert with head up display, electronic stability control and traction control to name a few.

The dash presents well with four main gauges; fuel, temperature, speedometer and tachometer are all clear and legible. The graphics used are appealing. Directly between the speedo and tacho is a digital display which can be set to show various info like real-time fuel consumption, average speed and trip distance. I left it displaying the digital speedometer which I liked. The steering wheel itself is typical Holden fare. It's serviceable and feels good to the hands. Various car functions are available direct from the wheel and include Bluetooth with voice activation, stereo volume, station/song next/previous select and cruise control. The wheel controls are intuitive and straightforward to use. When first taking to the road, the steering wheel seems overly large and is one of the few reminders that you are driving a commercial vehicle. Once you have travelled some distance and encounter varied conditions, you realise the wheel is just the right size for this class of vehicle.

The next standout feature in the cabin is the 8" MyLink Infotainment system with Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto. GM/Holden have come a long way with infotainment tech and the current MyLink system clearly demonstrates this. It is a doddle to use. Even if you are not part of the Facebook generation, the user interface is clear, well sorted and logical. Unlike many similar systems, MyLink often gives you more than one avenue to get things done; be it via the responsive touch screen or the alternate dials and switches. I literally had my phone paired within two minutes and contacts synchronised - no manual required. The sound produced by the top of the range stereo system is clear and rich with six speakers and sub-woofer complimented to the LTZ. Audio fidelity is impressive and dare I say, superior to that of the SSV Redline we recently tested.

Cabin ergonomics are of a high standard, major controls are easy to use and fall readily to hand. Cabin presentation, fit and finish are good but the auto gear lever is a bit of a letdown - only because the plastic shroud and surrounding fake alloy do not fit the ambience. Speaking of controls, there is so much automation present in the LTZ that the manual controls are almost overkill. The LTZ is quite capable of looking after everything with little human intervention. Automatic lighting, rain sensing wipers, fully automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and engine start, 6-way electric adjustable driver's seat with two memory settings and even heated side mirrors! Nice.

The Colorado as a crew cab is a true five seater and rear passenger space is more than adequate. There is knee, shoulder and headroom to spare. My just under six-foot frame had no drama fitting into the rear compartment. The rear bench as with the front bucket seats are extremely comfortable but you sit on them rather than in them. This is not a problem, however - A stint of long distance driving left me without aches or pains and was a leisurely experience.

It is the driving experience where the Colorado LTZ really shines. The drive train is stellar and the fitted 2.8litre 4-cylinder Duramax 2 turbo diesel engine rocks! In our case, the LTZ is also equipped with the 6-speed automatic transmission with active select. The on-paper figures whilst healthy do not convey just how good the engine and drivetrain are. 147kW may not sound like much especially in such a big vehicle but pair it with the 500Nm of torque available from just 2000rpm and believe me, your brain at first will not accept the power delivery. For its class, it is the most un-diesel-like diesel I have driven – period! This is all our tested driving conditions, be it stop/start city traffic, highway cruising and twisty back roads. OK, it still sounds like a diesel, but it is not overtly loud. The engine note isn't anything to write home about even under full load but the Colorado does get up and boogie. It had me wishing for a sports exhaust to match the muscular performance.

Not that I'm advocating, but traffic light drags would be a snap. It could embarrass XR6 Falcons and SV6 Commodores. No one-trick-pony, it possesses car like road dynamics and points and steers better than it has a right to. It is also incredible how the Colorado's cabin shrinks around you; you soon forget its commercial origins.

The six-speed auto under normal driving is a peach and selects the right gear at the right time. Power delivery is seamless and the changes are slick. I do feel however that the transmission software calibration in full auto mode is somewhat conservative - with your foot flat to the floor, upshifts kick in too early and as impressive as it is, it feels like the engine has a lot more to give. The upshifts occur somewhere between 3500-3700rpm under full acceleration, well under the 4500rpm redline.

Put the Colorado into active select mitigates the issue and the extra power delivery available in the pseudo-manual mode is awesome. Unfortunately, it does not feel natural - paddle shifters could fix that. Full auto mode needs calibrating for upshifts which are more aggressive. A software update is all that it requires.

My main criticism of the Colorado, which is not really a criticism is that it could get you into trouble. I kept forgetting that it is not a regular car. My brain was convinced that it was and I wanted levels of grip and dynamics, which as a commercial vehicle it ultimately could not deliver. I'm thankful for the typical 4x4 whine from the chunky semi-off-road tyres; it was the one thing that reminded me to back off when I was getting too excited in the twisty bits.

Highway cruising and city stop/start traffic are no problem for the Colorado, it is very refined and outside noise is reasonably muted. The suspension and ride setup is extraordinarily compliant for its class. It can be a bit bouncy at times but you have to remember heavy loads and towing are the Colorado's forte. No doubt with a loaded tray or a trailer attached, the ride will settle. Steering is direct and well weighted, feedback through the wheel and chassis is such that you know where the Colorado is sitting on the road and you know what it is doing at all times.

Some journos have been complaining about brake feel and response and I am left wondering again if that's because the Colorado feels so much like a regular road car. The expectations of the brakes then become the same. I found them to be great and repeated emergency stops, whilst not the same as a car were very similar. The Colorado suffered no brake fade or pedal drop during stints of full-on driving.

If it's coming across that I really like the Colorado, well... it's because I do. It just keeps giving even after I gave it a solid hiding. Fuel economy wasn't on my radar and yet it returned better than 9.0L per 100km. Another reason to give it a big thumbs up.

If you are in the market for a crew cab and it has to double as a family car, then the Colorado LTZ will handle both with ease. I highly recommend it, especially to those in supervisory or managerial roles who wouldn't normally consider such a vehicle. You'll look good driving it and it offers real practicality when needed.

So... you could use the LTZ if you are a regular tradie but would you? For the price bracket and the luxury, it just seems too good for the job – crazy, right! As we mentioned, the base model LS or LT would serve just as well and would be considerably cheaper, but hey – go ahead and spoil yourself.

In a word, the new 2017 Holden Colorado range is bloody brilliant. Ok fine, two words.

Thanks to Rob and Louis from City Holden Adelaide who provided the Colorado LTZ to us. If you are in the market for a new trade utility vehicle, go see the boys at City Holden, I guarantee you, you'll be well looked after.


2017 Holden Colorado LTZ

ENGINE: 2.8litre double overhead cam 4-cylinder common rail injection Duramax Diesel with 4 valves per cylinder

MAX POWER: 147kW @ 3600rpm

MAX TORQUE: 440Nm @ 2000rpm – manual 500Nm @ 2000rpm – automatic

TRANSMISSION: 6 speed automatic with active select

SUSPENSION: Independent double wishbone, coil spring front suspension Leaf spring rear suspension

BRAKES: Front disc, rear drum brakes

WHEELS: 18" alloy wheels shod with 265/60R18 Bridgestone Dueler tyres

2006-2009 Holden Astra SRi Turbo
2016 Paris Motor Show Highlights

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