BUYERS GUIDE
HOLDEN COLORADO
The Rodeo successor scores more power and space

Although the post-2012 Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max are structurally similar the powertrains aren’t: Colorados have different engines and transmissions from D-Maxs.

Holden Colorado

It may seem odd that the post-2012 Colorado is down on engine displacement in comparison with its 3-litre predecessor and 2012 D-Max competitor, but the Duramax 2.5-litre and 2.8-litre engines are signs of the times.

The Duramax branding is well known in the USA, where GM’s lack of diesel expertise has been boosted by Isuzu-made V8 diesels for US-market pickups and V6s for SUVs.

However, the four-cylinder Duramax engines used to power the new Colorado are not from Isuzu but are Italian VM Motori designs, similar to those used in some Chrysler products. A version of the 2.5-litre is used to power the latest London taxi.

Holden Colorado

 GM bought a 50-percent equity in VM Motori from Penske Corporation in 2007. We’d love to know how much money Roger Penske made directly and indirectly out of General Motors since he bought the company’s large diesel engine business for a song in the 1990s - subsequently selling it to Daimler in 2000 – but retaining control of its subsidiary, VM Motori that he’d bought in 1995.

Penske Corporation sold its remaining equity in VM Motori to Fiat in 2011. In late 2012 Fiat acquired all of VM motori, making the Dirmax line uncertain for GM's future.

Some major Colorado Duramax engine components are produced in Italy and shipped to Thailand for assembly, although there’s a schedule for total Thai production in the near-term. Colorado transmissions are GM-sourced five-speed manual and six-speed automatic.

Colorado pricing seems a tad on the high side for a vehicle range that lacks the safety credentials and technical inclusions of the Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 and VW Amarok line-ups: $26,990 for a Colorado 4x2 DX up to $49,990 for a 4x4 LTZ crew cab.

In June 2013 Holden increased the appeal of the Colorado range with the release of a special edition Thunder pack.

Colorado Thunder included nudge bar, towing package, soft tonneau cover, front carpet floor mats, one-piece rear carpet floor mat, bonnet protector, slimline weather shields and Thunder badging.

The Colorado Thunder pack is available on LX 4x4 Crew Cab Chassis and Pick Up, and LT and LTZ 4x4 Crew Cab Pick Up models.

colorado thunderHolden offered the Thunder pack at no additional cost on Colorado 4x4 LT Crew Cab with special drive away pricing of $39,990. 

In late 2013 more Colorado upgrades were announced. The Duramax was upgraded to 500Nm, when mated with the optional automatic transmission. A new six-speed manual was introduced, replacing the five-speed, but torque remains at 440Nm with this box.

Model Year 2014 Colorado also introduced Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist across the entire Colorado  range, as well as a Descent Control System on all  Colorado models except Colorado DX. 

holden coloradoIn November 2014 The Holden Colorado was given a number of model year 2015 updates.

There was ‘Comfort Suspension’ on the Colorado LTZ ute, an optional premium interior upgrade for the LTZ Crew Cab ute and a new acoustic package to improve powertrain noise across the entire range. All variants retained 2014 pricing.

The new Comfort Suspension had revised spring rates and damper valving, plus a stiffer front stabiliser bar. The changes were said to improve ride balance and road isolation, resulting in a smoother, more comfortable ride, particularly on urban roads.

There was also an upgraded instrument panel and centre console, and soft touch door trims and armrest.

The entire Colorado range also benefitted from wind-noise improvements after intensive testing and development, including work done at the Monash wind tunnel facility.  There were also refinements to Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA).

A new acoustic package was said to reduce powertrain airborne noise, making highway and urban driving quieter and a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

 

On and Off-road in the New Colorado

We didn’t have an issue getting comfortable behind the different models’ steering wheels, but some of the testers felt that telescopic steering, in addition to standard tilt adjustment, would be useful.

Ergonomics were very good, with audio and phone buttons on the left steering wheel spoke and cruise control on the right; well-placed gear levers; centrally-positioned temperature controls; and power window and mirror controls near the driver’s right hand.

Holden Colorado

Top-shelf models score a centrally-positioned, circular climate control centre and, while to us it jarred somewhat with the rest of the interior layout, scored well in customer assessment tests, according to Colorado’s interior designer, Kirsty Lindsay.

As expected, the GM six-speed automatic box shifted almost imperceptibly and, with a healthy 470Nm on tap, provided a smooth flow of torque through the driveline under all on and off road conditions.

All the test vehicles were unladen, until it came time for tow-testing, so performance was sparkling. Rodeo/Colorado ride and handling has always been ahead of most of the competition and the new model continues that tradition.

The manual transmission has a torque limitation and so the engine in front of the stick-shift box is ‘de-torqued’ to 440Nm, which is still a very respectable figure. There was ample torque to cover the gaps between the ratios and progress on and off road was excellent. We’ve become used to the ‘hill hold’ function that’s available on an increasing number of new vehicles, including Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger manual-transmission utes, but it wasn't available on pre MY 2014 Colorados.

Holden ColoradoAnother itemsthat 4x4 enthusiasts may miss is an optional rear differential lock. However, electronic traction and stability control are standard inclusions.

We checked out the traction aids and found the traction control system prevented wild wheelspin and stability control kept 4x4 models pointed in the right direction, even when we provoked errant behaviour.

Having played with the manual and auto boxes we were curious to see how the manual box would handle the Colorado’s class-leading towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

Holden provided trailers loaded to 2.5 tonnes gross for this evaluation and the test route was over hilly ground, on secondary roads, with some town driving thrown in.

As expected the six-speed auto made very light work of this course and we were very impressed with the automated downshift program that gave useful engine braking as we washed off speed on descents and when approaching corners.

Although the auto version was our preferred towing vehicle the manual model was no slouch.

Given the torque restriction on manual-box models and the lack of additional traction aids we feared that off-road ability might be somewhat compromised in comparison with other market-leadership aspirants - Ford/Mazda and VW – but the Colorado proved to be very useful on work sites and off-road.

The manual-transmission model had excellent engine braking in high and low range and the automatic transmission’s clever downshift program made it surefooted on steep downgrades as well.

In some off-road conditions it’s desirable to cancel stability control and that’s easily done with a push on the control button. By holding that button down it’s possible to cancel traction control as well, leaving the rear axle limited-slip differential to control wheelspin.

In extreme off road conditions the Colorado’s lack of a rear diff-lock option and hill descent control might see it disadvantaged alongside some of its competitors.

The new rear suspension arrangement – leaf springs slung over the axle, not under it as previously – has done wonders for belly clearance and the new coil-spring front end has reasonable under-wishbone ground clearance as well.

In summary, the post-2012 Holden Colorado is a worthy successor to its predecessor and brand-loyalty-inspiring Rodeo ancestors, but doesn’t have the goodies list of its competitors.Changes made throughout 2013 should keep it competitive.

 

Previous Models

Holden Rodeo 2001

The 2001 Holden Rodeo Range included an LT Sport Space Cab in petrol and diesel variants, Auto V6 Crew Cabs and immobiliser security. The top-of-the-range LT Sport Space Cab had two-tone paint treatment, chrome sports bar, wheel arch flares, multi-reflector headlamps, side steps, matching chrome-finished mirrors and door handles,16 x 7 five-spoke aluminium wheels and 245/70R tyres. The Rodeo LX 4x4 Diesel cab/chassis model had its bucket seats replaced by a squeezy three-seat bench.

Interior appointments on LT Sport models included a leather wrap steering wheel.

The three-litre Rodeo diesel range arrived in 2002 with a new iTD engine generating maximum power of 96kW at 3800rpm and peak torque of 275Nm at 2000rpm (automatic transmission models) and 265Nm at 2000rpm (manual transmission models) – 30 percent more power and up to 18 percent more torque than the outgoing 2.8 engine.

These power and fuel efficiency improvements were achieved through a high-pressure Bosch VP44 fuel injection system and a top-mounted intercooler.

Holden Rodeo 2002

 

Holden claimed a nine percent improvement in fuel economy on a mixed city/highway cycle over the 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine, which was already recognised as the 4WD ute fuel economy leader.

The new engine could be coupled to an automatic transmission option in Crew Cab models. The giveaway on Rodeos powered by the 3.0-litre turbo diesel was a bonnet-mounted air intake.

 

The early-2003 RA Rodeo was wider than its direct competitors, with the longest cab/chassis wheelbase and the widest track. Rear trays were deeper and wider than any competitor's. Polyethylene 76-litre fuel tanks were standard across the range.

Holden Rodeo 2006

 

 

 

 

Rodeo performance was boosted with the introduction of two new petrol engines - a class-leading 3.5-litre (147 kW of power at 5400rpm and 280Nm of torque at 3000rpm) V6 and a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, with 94kW at 4800rpm and 207Nm of torque at 3200rpm.. Rodeo's proved 3.0-litre intercooled turbo diesel had increased torque of 291Nm at 2000 rpm (auto) and 280Nm (manual).

Rodeo was also the only ute in its class to offer rack and pinion power steering as standard. Braking performance was improved, LT models were equipped with ABS and remote central locking and CD players were standard on LX and LT models. Electronic 'shift on the fly' was standard on all 4WD Rodeos.

Towing capacity across the Rodeo range was 2000kg. The new cabins provided 42mm more leg room, 40mm more shoulder space and 34mm more head room than before. Seats were taller and deeper, and front seat slide was increased by 40mm to 200mm. Rear doors on Crew Cab models had increased opening angles and rear legroom was extended by 60mm. LT Space Cab offered two rear jump seats, with seat belts.

Holden Rodeo Alloytec engineIn 2006 Holden installed its Global V6 3.6-litre Alloytec engine in place of the previous 3.5-litre V6 engine. The new engine produced 157kW at 5300rpm, an increase of 10 kilowatts over the previous engine and peak torque of 313Nm at 2800rpm, an increase of 33Nm. The new engine warranted a trailer towing rating of up to 2500 kilograms, with automatic or manual transmission.

LT Rodeo scored a new wheel design, indicators on door mirrors and new interior trim. The GM Holden Colorado ute and cab/chassis lineup was released in July 2008, replacing the previous Rodeo range.

The 2008 Colorado was launched a few months ahead of the mechanically identical Isuzu Ute D-Max. Both vehicles replaced the former Holden-badged Rodeo, causing some confusion in the ute marketplace. Here’s why it happened.

The Isuzu D-Max and the Holden Colorado are badge-engineered utes, in much the same manner that Mazda’s BT-50 and Ford’s Ranger are mechanically identical, but aesthetically different. However, while Ford has a controlling interest in Mazda, making that arrangement quite tidy, the D-Max/Colorado pairing is messier.

Isuzu’s four-cylinder KB ute range that was badged ‘Rodeo’ from the 1980s was originally produced in Japan and exported globally, including into Thailand. By the 1980s Isuzu had light and heavy truck production and marketing agreements with GM that eventually culminated in GM control of Isuzu. The Asian meltdown of the 1990s saw GM relinquish its control of Isuzu, but some production and marketing agreements remained in place.

Isuzu utes have been selling in Thailand from 1957 and local production by Isuzu Operations Thailand (IOT) began in 1974, in parallel with Japanese production. In 2002, the remainder of Isuzu Rodeo ute production was transferred from Japan to Thailand. In 2004 GM began production of the Chevrolet-badged Rodeo vehicle design in Thailand.

The IOT-owned D-Max brand is built in Samrong and the GM-owned Colorado is built by GM Thailand in Rayong. GM pursued this new-plant initiative in 2004 to bolster its flagging market shares around the world.

Once its Thai plant was in full swing it was logical for GM to sell the Colorado in Australia, through Holden dealers, but that move cut IOT‘s former product channel into Australia – one of the largest ute markets in the world. Hence, the birth of Isuzu UTE Australia Pty Ltd (IUA), to bring in the IOT-built D-Max. The outcome is Holden dealers selling the GM-built Colorado and 40+ newly appointed IUA dealers selling the IOT-built D-Max. Both companies have previewed 2012 models that have no common componentry and are built in different plants.

Holden Colorado 2012

The 2008 Holden Colorado line-up was well specified, with driver and passenger airbags on the entire range and ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) standard on LT-R and all LX 4WD variants.

Diesel power came from a 3.0-litre four-cylinder common rail turbo engine, with peak torque of 360Nm at 1800rpm and maximum power of 120kW at 3600rpm and all 4WD variants had three-tonnes towing capacity.

A sports variant, the LT-R, featured sports bars, soft tonneau cover, side steps, front fog lamps, 16-inch aluminium wheels and sports interior trim.  The LT-R 4WD had Bluetooth capability and Rear Park Assist.

Bush Modifications

Holden Rodeo

Our extensive solo-vehicle and tow-testing of Holden Colorado utes shows that they need very little in the way of bush mods to go virtually anywhere.

We’d suggest a long-range replacement fuel tank, a snorkel and a suspension lift similar to the one we evaluated on the mechanically similar D-Max. A front-end diff lock would be nice, for severe trails.

 



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