2012 Holden Colorado LT And LTZ First Drive Review

Tim O'Brien | 33 Comments


Things have suddenly gotten hotter among LCVs - that light commercial vehicle sector where the robust and rampant Toyota HiLux reigns supreme.

Holden's new Colorado, which hits showrooms this week and where its bruising tough-truck styling will do it no harm at all, is one fine 'fourby' ute.

It's not perfect, but vastly improved on the stolid but reliable and hard-working model it replaces.

Diesel only, the 2.8 litre crew-cabs we sampled at launch - LT and LTZ models - pulled like a train.

And, with a range starting at $26,990 for the cab-chassis DX, Holden has the Colorado range sharply priced.

The top-spec LTZ, at $51,990 with six-speed auto and 3.5 tonne towing capacity, slides in under Ford's top-spec (but better equipped) $55,390 Ranger XLT by a significant $3400.

In a single bound, from behind the pack, the Colorado has lept Nissan's 2.5 litre Navara, the Triton, VW Amarok and HiLux for capability, workhorse grunt and style.

Only the benchmark Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 cousins have it bested, but the Colorado wins on price over the Ranger, and shades both for muscular lines and on-road presence.

The interior

The gawky style and primeval layout of the previous Colorado's interior have gone. The new one is a thousand years more evolved and better-featured, and looks quite sharp.

Its commercial origins are evident, it doesn't have the quality surfacing or subtle sense of fashion of a modern passenger car interior, but trim materials and tactile surfaces are generally good.

The leather-bound sports multi-function wheel is very appealing; the right size, a good rim and nicely 'square-on'.

It's adjustable for rake only (not reach), but there's ample adjustment to the driver's seat (for height, backrest and squab) and it's easy to get set at the wheel.

Seats themselves are good, front and rear. Trimmed in appealing durable fabrics, in both LT and LTZ models, they are supportive although not deeply scalloped, and offer reasonable under-thigh support for comfortable travel.

The rear is particularly roomy - ample kneeroom there with a Collingwood six-footer (5'11") at the wheel - and easily accessed through the wide-opening doors.

2012 holden colorado launch event 23

Seat-backs in the rear are not too upright (a failing with most twin-cabs) and not too short in the squab. Just two rear passengers get head rests, but each get proper lap-sash belts.

But there are some things we didn't like. The automatic shifter feels really low-rent, flimsy even, and the linear gate is un-illuminated - the shift information on the display ahead of the driver.

Also un-illuminated are the multi-function controls on the wheel (which kind-of defeats the purpose).

Some of the interior trim panels were also poorly aligned in one of the four cars we drove, leaving a hanging lip on the centre-stack and a gap to the left of the gear shift. You can expect these early-build peccadillos to disappear as the model matures.

That aside, the LT and LTZ models we drove come quite well-featured.

2013 holden colorado australia 11

Standard fit is cruise control, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, air-con, power windows, Bluetooth, aux-in, six-speaker audio system with USB and iPod connectivity (eight-speakers in the LTZ), power windows, two 12V auxiliary power outlets.

There is also an alarm, and various dress-up features like body-coloured exterior mirrors with integrated side-turn signals, and, in the LTZ, side steps, fog-lamps, projector headlamps, and chrome exterior and interior door handles.

Holden is waiting on ANCAP test results, but the Colorado also comes well-featured for safety with four airbags (driver, front passenger, and full-length side curtain airbags), along with electronic stability control and ABS.

It misses out however on features like hill-descent control and 'trailer sway control' that list among the up-spec Ranger's safety armoury.

On The Road

Let's start with the engine: a 2.8 litre DOHC Duramax turbo-diesel producing 132kW and 440Nm of torque with the manual and 470Nm with the auto - the latter bettering the 3.0 litre diesel it replaces.

It's a modern and very muscular unit. At idle it's settled and free of the lumpy shudder that typifies some. It becomes a little intrusive when accelerating from rest, but softens to a gruff rounded hum on the highway.

The six-speed auto could be a little crisper on changes (we've not yet driven the five-speed manual), especially around town through the first couple of ratios, but, once up to speed it performs very well.

We like, in particular, the transmission's settled nature when on the move. It holds onto higher gears, using the masses of torque to keep things bowling along, rather than fidgeting around looking for ratios.

That potent diesel means the Colorado is completely untroubled by hills and quite responsive when asked to overtake or if needing to hustle along.

2012 holden colorado launch event 20

The ride is best described as a compromise.

A leaf-sprung rear under a large empty tub (for our testing) plus a 3.5 tonne towing capacity, mean that it's pointless to expect 'car-like' comfort and handling.

But don't infer from that that the ride is expressly poor or a handful at the wheel on broken roads - it's not.

With coil springs with independent double wishbones up front, the Colorado tracks quite well.

It's not in the Ranger's or Amarok's class - each of which are really very good - but while there is some bounce and jiggle without a load, there is reasonable compliance at the front end and the ride is adequately isolated and not uncomfortable.

Towing And Off-Road

Of course, it's built for a load. Put a wheelbarrow, some builder's clobber and work tools in that tub, or an off-road bike, and the ride will be transformed.

We had a 3.0 tonne load hitched behind for one leg of the launch: a mini-excavator and trailer, plus three passengers in the cab. The Colorado hauled it with relative ease.

Overtaking (of course) was out of the question, and progress away from the line was considerably dampened, but we were surprised at how capably it performed.

This is a truck for a big job - it is the segment leader for towing capacity. The crew cab offers 1552mm tub length and 1532mm width (with 1122mm between the wheel arches).

Off-road, although the circuit was not especially challenging, the Colorado performed very well. Low range provides good crawling ability to pick a line up and over obstacles, and, held into first or second for descents, engine braking performance is very good.

Approach angles are very good, and ramp-over angles are excellent. However, the tow bar fitted to our test vehicle for this part of the drive fouled a couple of times when climbing out of washouts.

Moving between vehicles meant that it wasn't possible to take a meaningful fuel consumption reading, but Holden is claiming 9.1 l/100km combined fuel use.

First Drive Verdict

As we noted at the outset, Holden's new Colorado is one fine 'fourby' ute. A longer test, and a look at the five-speed manual models, will give us some better insights into its strengths and weaknesses.

But, on the basis of this drive of the LT and LTZ, we would confidently recommend that you place the Colorado high on your short list. Especially if shopping for a tough workhorse that can also be comfortably pressed into use as a versatile family car.

At the moment, in the light commercial vehicle sector, it's a battle for the minor placings: you need more than a better ute to beat the HiLux.

But the Navara is vulnerable, and it's been galloping out of Nissan showrooms. Vulnerable too is the Triton, which is suddenly looking a little tired and underdone. And the Amarok is nobbled with a manual-only drivetrain (for the moment) and a hard-working 2.0 litre diesel.

So there's a lot of opportunity there for the Colorado.

We'd put it behind the Ranger and BT-50 for all-round value and capability, but it has them both shot to bits for bruising, tough-truck style.


4x2 SINGLE CAB Body Engine Transmission RRP
DX Cab Chassis 2.5L TD MT $26,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD MT $27,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD AT $29,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD MT $33,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD AT $35,990
LX Pickup 2.8L TD MT $35,490
LX Pickup 2.8L TD AT $37,490
LT Pickup 2.8L TD MT $36,490
LT Pickup 2.8L TD AT $38,490
LTZ Pickup 2.8L TD MT $40,990
LTZ Pickup 2.8L TD AT $42,990
DX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD MT $34,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD MT $35,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD AT $37,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD MT $40,490
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD AT $42,490
LTZ Pickup 2.8L TD MT $47,490
LTZ Pickup 2.8L TD AT $49,490
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD MT $42,990
LX Cab Chassis 2.8L TD AT $44,990
LX Pickup 2.8L TD MT $44,490
LX Pickup 2.8L TD AT $46,490
LT Pickup 2.8L TD MT $45,490
LT Pickup 2.8L TD AT $47,490
LTZ Pickup 2.8L TD MT $49,990
LTZ Pickup 2.8L TD AT $51,990

Note: pricing excludes on-road costs.

Filed under: Featured, review, Holden, diesel, colorado, 2012, ute, 4wd, 4x4, commercial, cab chassis, lcv, automatic, crew cab, Manual, utility, pickup, light commercial, holden colorado, Advice, special-featured, 2door, 4door, 6a, 5m, tim o'brien, 4x2

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  • Roger says,
    3 years ago
    I would suggest your style comment is subjective, I rate the Ranger a better looking vehicle. I rate Colorado with BT50, a bit on the ugly side. I think the Ranger is worth the $4K more, particularly with its benchmark roadholding. These utes spend most of their time on road, and thats a significant passive safety advantage. From prior comments by buyers it was the deciding factor in the BT50/Ranger question, with buyers spending the extra for notably better handling without compromise of off road ability. Well done Ford on that one. The HiLux question still baffles me, but it is what it is. It reminds me of kids in the schoolground, gotta have what he has smile
    I wonder how these compare also with Nissans $42K drive away for the Navara dual cab ST + nudge and towbar....puts a whole new slant on the value proposition.
  • OutbackOZ
    OutbackOZ says,
    3 years ago
    I agree Roger on the styling. The Ranger is a much better looking and I think more "bruising, tough-truck style" then this. How ever it is better looking the the BT-50. I noticed that TMR didn't give a depth for the tub. It would be the only ute not to run the door window line through to the top of the tub. You look ate most utes out there, the bottom window line is the it same as the top of the tub. There is 50-60mm lost. Yeah through a hard cover on it and the they line up but you have lost a far bit of room. I would like to see a comparison test between the LCV, eg have them all do the same test, off road, towing and place some performance figures with it. It's all good these cars are "rated" to tow but how well do they tow that weight. All in all if was in the market for a ute I would pay the extra and buy the Ranger
    • Straddie says,
      3 years ago
      I think the Hilux is the same Windowline above the tray
  • Straddie says,
    3 years ago
    You will pay more every year for rego in Queensland for the Ranger and BT50
  • Aleks says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    How hard is to seriously take a picture of the dashboard. Mega fail guys. mad
    • roll over says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      All you so called Auto buffs are so up your self .As There is not one on the road till next week so where do you bone heads get off
    • craig says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      You don't want to see the dash.
    • craig says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      The colorado which is basically a captiva with a ute body is a poorly made vehicle very flimsy and not finished of to standards of the ranger and bt50.
      It is priced lower than the other two for a good reason it's cheaply made.
      • fhmillymac says,
        2 years ago
        Ford Ranger drivers you need to look at the problems rangers have, suspension that bottoms out under modest loads, exposed wires under the front guards, electrical issues when towing or when fitting any extra electrics you cant just fit extras because of wiring constraints, diff and gear box oil leaks, all thing a mate has experienced with his Ranger whilst I have had no problems with my Colorado which was bought at the same time.
  • K! says,
    3 years ago
    Ford Ranger and BT-50 use a 5 cylinder engine (6 cylinder rego in QLD) whereas toyota and holden, plus most of the others, have kept the 4's which is something to consider in running costs.
  • TTT says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    I have driven both Manual and Auto versions of the new Colorado they both drive really well plenty of go. Suspension though is another thing for all these new vehicles. None of them are super stars in this department until you fit a decent set of Bilstein Shocks to them at the very least then they start to shine in the handling department and yes this is all Brands including the Ranger.
    The new styling of the Colorado is Tough looking and the tub depth is great, at least you can fit an 80 Litre fridge in it and shut the hard lid unlike some of the others.
  • David says,
    3 years ago
    I will put my money on the new Colorado being a flop
  • Peter says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    Very good publicity blurb. But how about some real facts. Like the GCM. That is either going to reduce the tow weight or the tug load substantially. This bigger towing weight war is going to come back and bite someone on the rectum.
  • jill says,
    3 years ago
    I have a 2x4 LTZ on order, and I can't wait to receive it. It is going to be my UTE.Could you please tell me what GMC is.
    • Tim O'Brien says,
      3 years ago
      Yo Jill, we've made the comment recently in another review, but the maximum towing capacity of a vehicle is compromised by any load you have in the tub, and/or sitting in the cabin.

      As Peter has commented correctly, for any quoted maximum towing capacity you need to be a little cautious in interpreting manufacturer's claims at face value.

      Their claims are not wrong, or intended to mislead, but there are other variables at work that will drag quoted figures back.

      If, for instance, you have half-a-tonne of sand and stone in the tub, plus the ample frames of Lenny, Knackers and Gino strapped in next to you, you have to consider their total combined weights, plus the sand and stone, before hitching up a 3.0 tonne trailer - despite a stated maximum towing capacity of 3.5 tonne (the Colorado's maximum).

      GCM is the Gross Combination Mass, that is, the maximum weight of the vehicle and trailer combined. This is calculated by adding the gross vehicle mass (GVM) and maximum towing capacity. (GVM = the maximum allowable laden mass of a vehicle, ie. the tare weight plus the payload.)

      I can't put my hand on the GCM figure for the new model (I'll update this comment once I locate it), but the quoted GCM for the just-superseded Colorado was 5900kg. The new model reviewed here will have a higher figure (as its towing capacity is considerably higher).

      Another variable that needs to be considered in the context of how you intend to use the vehicle is the allowable downball capacity, ie. the maximum 'down-weight' the towball can manage.

      Because trailers vary (a well-balanced caravan will likely have considerably less downball weight than an extended bed trailer with a backhoe sitting on top), and because you will have your own plans for how you will use your Colorado, it's best you talk to your Holden dealer to get the precise information that's relevant to you.

      BTW Peter, I think you're right. It sure makes me uncomfortable following some of the loads I see on trade trailers (and at the highway speeds I commonly see them doing).

      I'm not sure that the endless pursuit of maxed-out tow capacity for dual-cabs (commonly, tipping the scales at around 2.0 tonne kerb-weight and thus quite a bit less than what you'll commonly see being towed behind) is either sensible or safe.

      Good contributions.


    • charles pollard says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      I HAVE A Colorado 4x2 ltz dual cab n just love it had a hilux n power wise it shifts on hilux n hilux d4d is a dud has lots of issues with the injectors
    • charles pollard says,
      3 years ago
      I love my Colorado 4x2 ltz dual cab drives great nice body style interior beats any other in style n looks n the power would give any other utility a run for their money and win the race great aussie utility and the price is good why pay more for less i say
  • Jp says,
    3 years ago
    Give me the ranger any day over the Colorado..... Those looks are very subjective an the bull nose split grill Rates at the bottom of all the colorados opposition for me!
  • Bill says,
    3 years ago
    The Aussies get all the good stuff.We here in the US must accept all the vehicles that they make the big -bucks.The Colorado in the US is a wheezey 5cyl under powered,gas thirsty clunker.The Aussie Colorado looks like my Equinox SUV.I sure wish we could get something like the new Colorado here in the US.We cant even gat a diesel powered small orr mid sized truck.....can only dream
  • John Standfort says,
    3 years ago
    Colorado 2012 is fantastic! Done fuel consumption Sydney to Canberra 7.8 L/100kms at 110 kms/ph in Sydney 9.7 L/100kms. Going gold prospecting in the outback without problems. The back seats are wide enough to make my bed and sleep well. My new Nissan X-Trail was doing 12 L/100kms service every 10000 kms and not cheap, while with the Holden Colorado only every 15000 kms for a fix amount,and my first free 3000 kms service was excellent.smilesmile
  • joanne says,
    3 years ago
    dryHolden 2012 Colorado LTZ ..a simple weight equation...LTZ's g.v.m is 3100 + towing capacity is 3500 kg = 6600 But the Colorado g.c.m. is 6000 kg. The ture facts are.

    G.C.M. 6000 kg
    towing -3500 kg
    = 2500 kg
    curb weight - 2000 kg
    = 500 kg
    5 passengers - 350 kg
    = 150 kg
    bullbar &
    tow hitch - 100 kg
    = 50 kg
    total LTZ payload is 50 kg in the rear tray.. correct ratio for LTZ is 1100 kg payload and 2900 kg towing = G.C.M 6000 kg ....other wise you cant put anything in the rear..
  • Paul says,
    3 years ago
    Why would you pay more for a Hilux when you will never take any these vehicles anywhere close to there capabilities. Be honest with yourself, your ego will keep you broke if you let it. I was a tradesman that towed a lot of gear all the time and Rodeos were more than adequate and the New Colorado is a far cry from them, so it will do me just fine. Carry on discussing irrelevant issues, I'll spend my extra money on holidays.
  • Vanessa says,
    3 years ago
    How does the colorado compare to the Isuzu D-Max?
  • Matt finch says,
    3 years ago
    I drive a range rover sport as my daily and have a navara ST D40. A ride in my mates LX colarado saw me head to the dealer. The diesel is exceptionally quiet in the cabin and glides silently at 120 on freeway as my reps spend time doing. 1000km to a tank! The interior is well laced out and appointed. You ranger snobs should take a closer look
    • XLT says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      You drive an RR sport daily, yet you think the colorado rates over the Ranger? Clearly you haven't driven/ridden in a ranger, considering the engine is better, the ride is better, the handling is better, the interior is better, and the Ranger also gets 1000km to a tank. And that's around town.
  • John Standfort says,
    3 years ago
    biggrin% Five months ago I posted about my new 2012 Colorado how happy I was with it. After 15,000 kms I am more than happy, average fuel usage is low, power excellent and gone in the outback in creeks and rocks and mud and love it. Fully load with sluice, pumps, hoses, fridge and all gears, not forget my bed across the back seats.rolleyes
  • ROBERT says,
    3 years ago
    Have had my colorado since july 2012
    only have 7000k on clock.
    Drove it to Qld in the rain for the first time and had to put up with the wipers grabbing the glass and chattering not giving a clean silent swipe.
    Everything we tried didnt make any difference.
    Has anyone had the same problem with this model.
    • GK says,
      2 years ago
      It's not the car model. I had new wipers fitted on my last service at Holden for my VE SS. They grabbed the glass just like you have described. Changed them out for another set and they work properly.
      • Jimbob says,
        2 years ago
        My wipers have started grabing aswell, went to have a look at supercheap and they don't have the wipers. Where did you get yours from?
  • Frog says,
    2 years ago
    Test drove the auto ltz. What a beast. Put a 2 ton van on the back and drove up mt buninyong. Top speed with van was 105. Did the Same drive with my 2008 ranger and struggled to hit 75km. Thought there was a bit of body roll but at the same time it was very smooth and comfortable. Would be more than happy on a long trip. The auto was smooth. I could hardly notice the gear changes. Have driven most other duel cabs and have decided this is the pick. I was although very impressed with the amrok however the price scared me away. It looks like I might be getting the Colorado and yes I have tested the new ranger however this vehicles auto was not as good as the Colorado. There was still a bit of an agi feel with the gear changes in the ranger. I have always been a ford fan. Now converted.
  • Richard says,
    2 years ago
    I have had my Colorado LTZ since January of this year. The car has been fairly good all round and pretty well lives up to the above review. The only issue I have is the potential inability of Holden to keep it on the road. The wait time for a replacement bumper 4 months, replacement reversing sensor (warranty fix) 1 + months, replacement interior dome light assembley (warranty fix) 1 + months. The response from Holden has been very ordinary. Holden is not keeping basic parts for this model and I have the feeling that if anything should go wrong that would render the car inoperable it would be off the road for at least a month and possibly much longer. As these are mainly sold as work vehicles the situation is totallu unacceptable.
    • Andrew says,
      2 years ago
      Richard, I took possession of my Colorado in july2012, the Drivers seat belt connecter had a faulty sensor causing it to "ting" at me constantly after the first 2months, 7 months it took to get a new one replaced!! pulled the plug on the sensor to avoid going insane. I had the same problem getting the floor mats for front and rear, but only 3 months for them to arrive from purchase, other than that, the Ute drove like a dream, I am a Sales Rep in Central NSW and did 97k KM in the first year and it has never missed a beatbiggrin.
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