Holden’s tough updated Colarado can walk the talk
A BOTOX re-plump rather than any serious cosmetic enhancements mark the model-year updates to Holden's Colorado workhorse.
And the Colorado is going to have to keep working. The capable ute is the most popular Holden product by a mile, accounting for one in three sales so far this year.
There's good cause for that: the fundamentals of the Colorado are sound, which is why the ute - which was launched in late 2016 - is still a solid fourth in the sales charts.
Given there's no new engine or transmission to excite potential shoppers, Holden has opted to grow the line-up to extend the Colorado's appeal.
The LSX dual-cab four-wheel-drive version was a limited-edition version but is now a regular part of the line-up (replacing the LT), along with LTZ+ and Z71 versions now sold with a towbar and a re-rated payload of just under 1000kg to make them available to novated lease customers.
Changed mechanicals extend to a soft-drop tailgate on the top-spec Z71 model and heated front seats now standard on the LTZ dual-cab four-wheel-drive.
Beyond that, LTZ and Z71 pick-ups have a "premium" spray-on tub-liner as standard kit. Holden says more than 60 per cent of LTZ and Z71 buyers had been ticking the box for a tub-liner, so they made it standard.
Colorado marketing boss Andre Scott says the popularity of the LSX with young tradies - you effectively get the base LS ute with a sports bar and alloys - ensured it returned as a permanent model.
"We love the nickname 'affordable tough' for this one. You get the looks, you don't get all the bells and whistles but that's not what this version is about," Scott says.
The recommended retail price hasn't changed, though Holden is now quoting prices for the six-speed auto, which carries a $2200 premium over the standard six-speed manual.
Accordingly, the base car is a $31,690 two-wheel-drive LS cab-chassis. The four-door, 4WD line starts with the LS at $47,190, rises to $49,190 for the LSX, $52,690 for the LTZ and $57,190 for the Z71.
Holden has also crafted a series of accessory packs that bolt on to the Colorado. Prices start at $2950 for the Black pack with dull exterior finishes - "let's face it, black bits sell," Scott says - to the $19,550 Xtreme kit reserved exclusively for the Z71.
On the road, the Colorado's manners are better than average and improve as the head count aboard rises. A limited-slip diff doesn't sound as sexy as a diff lock but is more relevant for more people more of the time. Simply put, it gives better cornering control and that's always handy.
The Colorado's towing ability is well-established and it is only the interior fit-out - the Holden plastics and the infotainment system doesn't look as new as some newer utes - that indicates this is a three-year-old vehicle.
Suspension travel is more than up to the task on the rutted bush trails outside of Creswick, Victoria, though there were whispers - officially denied - that Holden may be working on a two-inch lift kit to elevate the Colorado's off-road prowess.
Progress is ultimately limited by the all-terrain tyres but with the ute in low-range four-wheel drive, there aren't too many obstacles it won't roll through or over.
There are few changes but few reasons to change our minds about the Holden Colorado. It remains a robust and respectably designed vehicle whose appeal won't diminish despite the absence of auto emergency braking.
Holden Colorado vitals
Price: $31,690-$57,190 plus on-roads
Warranty/servicing: 5 years/unlimited km; $2135 over 5 years
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 147kW/500Nm
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, rear sensors. LTZ spec and above add lane-departure and forward collision alert
Thirst: 7.9-8.7 litres/100km
Spare: Full size
Towing: Up to 3500kg
The sky appears to be the limit for cashed-up tradies and their utes, Holden sales head Peter Keeley says.
"You really can't make a pick-up truck that is too expensive these days. People are spending more and more money on these vehicles and that's not going to change."
Keeley says Holden plans to capitalise on that with a facelifted Colorado that provides the opportunity to appeal to novated lease customers buying top-end utes.
"What has changed among private buyers is the type of vehicle they're buying. What has gone ballistic are sales of top-spec versions. They've gone from fairly humble numbers of 4 per cent five years ago to around 18 per cent today. Having a novated lease vehicle in that space is huge."
The Colorado is a key plank of Holden's transition away from cars to SUVs and utes and the brand isn't concerned by sliding sales numbers. "We're over-investing to become a huge player in the SUV stage but that takes a bit of time to grow".