Is $69,990 drive away too much to pay for a Holden Colorado? Well, no – its makers certainly don’t think so. The Colorado is the latest pickup-style ute to jump towards premium pricing with the addition of a new halo variant named the Xtreme – a moniker directed to this vehicle’s extended off-roading capability. In the same vein as the Toyota HiLux Rugged X that came to market in autumn, Holden’s new Colorado Xtreme arrives fitted with an extensive catalogue of off-roading accessories. But unlike the HiLux, which liberally integrates ARB kit, the Colorado Xtreme uses its makers own toys. As much as anything else, the Colorado Xtreme is a showcase of $19,000-worth of Holden genuine accessories, which range from an integrated winch in the front to a heavy-duty steel bar in the back, with plenty in between.
What the Colorado Xtreme doesn’t seek to do is to go to the extremes of the Ford Ranger Raptor – the flagship of Ford’s local ute range that, with a focus on high-speed baja off-roading, is more capable and more expensive again, at $74,990 plus on-road costs.
By contrast, the Holden – like the Toyota – is a convenient ‘starter pack’ that adds a higher level of off-roading capability and aesthetic cool factor to the creature comforts of the Z71 model. It kits out the Colorado with all the gear you could reasonably need, without the time-consuming factor of doing it yourself.
We drove the the nigh-on-$70k Xtreme around Coober Pedy in early spring, with temperatures pogoing between 8ºC overnight and 40ºC during hot, windy days. Our testing included a 600km return trip on the rutted and undulating Oodnadatta Track to sample the famous burgers at the Pink Roadhouse, plus winching and off-roading exercises around Coober Pedy, the mostly-underground town at the centre of Australia’s opal mining industry. All up, it was about three days of moderate, if not difficult, all-terrain use.
The initial impressions off that back of that experience are pretty positive.
First things first – kerb appeal. A top-end ute really has to look the business, and we think the Colorado is one of the more handsome pickups out there, even in rather anonymous LTZ trim. In Z71 form the ante is upped with distinctive bonnet stripes, but the Xtreme turns the dial way up with a nicely finished, not-too-shouty aesthetic. The new steel front bar – with integrated winch and LED light bar – adds a more determined stance, the roof shelf looks cool, as do the the tubular side rails and oversize rear-end Colorado decal. And we like the roof shelf, even though it kicks up some wind noise. A dowdy wheel design – just a black repaint of the LTZ’s multispoke – could have been improved. All up, Holden say there is $19,000 of accessory catalogue kit here, sold for $15,000 over a Z71.
The same gamut of paint colours available on the $54,990 Z71 carry over to the Xtreme. The halo colour is a fiery Orange Crush metallic, though fans of the sleeper aesthetic will appreciate the availability of the quieter Mineral Black or the handsome Dark Shadow grey.
Inside, there are no changes from the Z71 grade, but that’s no major issue. The Colorado has one of the better cabins among pick-ups thanks to the major, Holden-led facelift of late 2016. The dash layout is chunky and slabby with a modern industrial aesthetic, with clear and nicely damped dials and some soft touch material across the breadth of the fascia. There’s a large 8-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a decent trip computer in front of the driver. Practicality is good – there is a very large central bin between the seats, big cupholders and decent-sized bottle holders in the doors.
The seats leave a little to be desired – a fact recognised by Holden product managers. Flat and lacking in lateral support, the seats struggle to hold you in place once you take the Xtreme into the really rough stuff. Also, the grade of leather used on the surfacing is a bit cheap – the supportive cloth units in the LTZ grade actually feel more premium.
Fitting people in the back is one of the Colorado’s strong points. Unlike other utes like the Volkswagen Amarok, there’s both adequate room – and airbags – in the second row. The backrest isn’t too upright, and six-foot passengers will find the outboard rear seats accommodating enough. We just wish there were air vents back there, too.
That’s the basics taken care of – so what’s the Xtreme like to drive, on road and off?
Holden are clear that the Colorado Xtreme isn’t to be taken as a refined blacktop cruiser – this is a properly-equipped track bruiser, and we’ll come to that. Undoubtedly, most Xtremes will live the majority of their lives on tarmac, and here, their road manners aren’t bad. The Colorado has the equal torquiest four-cylinder engine among utes: the 2.8-litre ‘Duramax’ turbo diesel unit makes 147kW/500Nm, a particularly stout figure that looks especially impressive next to six-cylinder utes like the 165kW/550Nm Volkswagen Amarok. That said, the Ford Ranger is now available with an optional 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel making 157kW/500Nm.
The engine isn’t the quietest but it does deliver respectable performance, getting up to speed smartly, with a 9.5 secod 0-100km/h time – a second quicker than the Ranger Raptor. The Colorado’s handling and ride are equally respectable, having copped substantial local input and Holden engineering know-how. Like all utes, the Colorado is still very agricultural compared to SUVs but there is a certain connectedness to the steering, and the urban ride is acceptable. Front-end compliance remains essentially the same as the standard Colorado thanks to beefed-up springs to cope with the additional 65kg that sits over the front end. The Xtreme’s total mass increase over a Z71 is 150kg, reducing payload from 1000kg to 850kg.
Head off the beaten track, though, and it’s clear that there is a gulf between utes like the Colorado Xtreme, and the admittedly more expensive Ranger Raptor. The Holden is very impressive on gravel, loose dirt, in articulating, and in difficult climb and descent situations, but it all has to be taken at a more gentle pace than the balls-out Ford, which loves attacking all manner of obstacles at pace thanks to far more sophisticated baja-suited shocks, dampers and BFGoodrich tyres.
By contrast, the Colorado Xtreme is more of a conventional off-roading utes with some additional goodness included over the Z71 grade. The tyres are indeed upgraded – from highway terrain Bridgestone Duelers hoops to all-terrain 265/60 Goodyear Wranglers. These do make a difference, especially on our higher-speed gravel run to Oodnadatta, where the AT tyres gave the rear end more bite than the HTs, leading to less gulp-inducing tail-wagging.
Equally, the Xtreme’s bolder front-end treatment includes distinct corner cut-outs in the steel winch bar, which improve approach angles by 5º on the straight angle and 8º when cornering at full lock – not bad. Aside from more capable obstacle entry, a good deal of focus is placed on that winch bar, which will also be available as a circa-$6,000 option on other Colorado grades. The winch is hidden cleverly behind the articulating number plate fitting and contains a 30-metre inelastic nylon rope that can take 10,000 pounds of pressure. This reviewer, hardly accustomed to winching bogged Holden Trailblazers out of opal mine dust, stepped up to the challenge and found the whole process remarkably easy and safe.
Another heavy-duty steel bar at the rear end and similar blacked-out tubular steel side bars give some extra confidence that you won’t be ripping plastic parts off when the going gets rough, though Holden didn’t give us a chance to attack the Colorado’s rock rails like we were able to on the new Toyota HiLux Rugged X – with some ferocity, no less. We trust they work well in practice. Also in contrast to the Toyota is the lack of a snorkel on the Holden, with engineers offering a logical explanation in that once the snorkel hole is cut, there’s no going back. You can add one to the Xtreme, of course – but it’s your decision.
Otherwise, the off-roading goodness equals that of the already quite capable Z71. That includes the shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system that offers nearly instant switching between 2WD high and 4WD high. Engaging low range – something we never had to do, even on a tough low-speed off-roading course – does require a brief halted pause. The Xtreme also benefits from the Colorado’s rear limited-slip differential which allows low-traction cornering shenanigans to be hauled under control by gently adding throttle. An Australian stability control tune does a nice job of avoiding rotation of the car without completely killing fun.
Ownership-wise, the Colorado requires servicing every nine months or 15,000 kilometres, and Holden’s capped price servicing programme covers about the first five years – really 63 months – and 105,000 kilometres of ownership, transferrable to a new owner. Over that period of five years the Colorado costs $2,953 to service – not the cheapest but at least the costs are known up front. Holden’s standard five year, unlimited kilometre warranty applies to the Colorado Xtreme.
So, $69,990 driveaway is certainly a pricey Colorado. That said, we think it’s better value than the $63,990 – $69,266 driveaway – Toyota HiLux Rugged X, which is in some ways similarly kitted out, but misses the Holden’s integrated winch (worth about $6,000) and is also considerably less refined. On the other side, the Ford Ranger Raptor is way more capable again, and much tougher looking, but its $74,990 sticker price blows out to $80,867 driveaway – one very expensive ute.
Thinking about it that way, the Colorado – a relatively refined, locally tuned, handsome and spacious ute – strikes a nice middle ground. If it were our money, we’d probably buy a $49,990 driveaway LTZ grade and add a few accessories the Xtreme shares, but the beauty of this segment is substantial choice. Either way, the Xtreme stacks up quite nicely, with a smart array of genuine accessories making this a perfect ‘starter pack’ to get you onto the road with a distinctive, off-road ready ute without even having to think about it. And that’s a pretty convincing way to do a flagship grade, we reckon.
Key specs (as tested)
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