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Tim O'Brien | Nov 29, 2012 | 18 Comments


Vehicle style: Large heavy-duty 4WD Wagon
Power/Torque: 132kW/470Nm
Fuel consumption listed: 9.4 l/100km | on test: not recorded



Holden’s new Colorado 7 4WD won’t become the darling of Double Bay or Toorak – it’s got the kind of ‘rough-head’ looks only a mother could love.

But if you’ve got a boat or a horse float to pull, or you want to lose yourself deep down a mountain gorge, this might be your car.

The Colorado 7 is no ‘soft-roader’; it’s a genuine 4WD ready for heavy-duty work or the big off-road trek. And, as a bonus, with seven seats, you can take the family (and the neighbour’s sprogs) along for the ride.

Sure, it’s no picture plate – the ‘wagon’ back looks a bit ungainly, and the hip-line doesn’t disguise its twin-cab ute origins – but there’s a certain pugilistic charm about its tough-truck nose and high-riding stance.

On road, it performed as we expected: half-truck, half-wagon, it lurches when cornering, but the 470Nm in the nose can really haul.

Off-road, it surprised. It has no trouble soaking up big whacks on a broken track, has the articulation and clearance to pick its way over sump-hunting rocks and deep ruts, and has effortless torque for a long hard climb.

We put the LT and LTZ across some challenging fire-trails in the State Forest behind Marysville in Victoria. To add some challenge to the task, a morning storm ‘freshened-up’ the red clay on the steepest sections.



This is not the best interior on the planet. The three-tone grey/black plastic surfaces are a bit unrelenting and perhaps better-suited to a commercial vehicle.

While the dash is well laid-out, and the centre-stack has a modern look and feel, the rest of the interior doesn’t seem to integrate.

There are three or four ‘bitsy’ sections to the armrests in the doors; the metal surround to the gearshift seems to sit ‘on top’ rather than inset to the console; and the fit to the sections generally doesn’t have the tight alignments we now expect from modern cars.

In this, it’s not a patch on the Ranger interior (for instance).

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But the seats are fine; trimmed in leather (and vinyl) in the top-spec LTZ, they provide pretty good under-thigh support and proved reasonably comfortable, both front and back.

And, unlike the similar (but heavily out-gunned) Mitsubishi Challenger, the Colorado 7 seating is not compromised by the ladder chassis.

The footwells are deep and the seats set high enough above the floor to be able to comfortably plant your soles. (The low-set seating of the Challenger has your legs always set forward.)

There is no ‘reach’ to the steering wheel adjustment, it’s tilt only, but there are no problems getting set (even for my lanky co-driver).

For features, in both LT and LTZ models, there are no shortages.

The Colorado 7 packs in a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, a pretty good six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, USB and aux-in, air-con with roof-mounted rear controls and second and third-row air-vents, 60/40 tumble-fold removable second row seats, 50/50 folding third-row seats, and a rear auxiliary power outlet.

2013 holden colorado 7 australia 11

Side steps are also standard, as is – importantly – rear park assist and reversing camera.

The LTZ adds leather seat trim, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat, eight-speaker audio, 18-inch alloys, LED tail-lamps and additional trim and dress-up highlights.

The Colorado 7 also comes with a 5-Star ANCAP rating, and the full whack of safety features: ESC, ABS, front airbags and full-length curtain airbags, seat belt pretensioners, three rear-seat child anchor points, and three-point seat belts (across all seven seats).

(See our Colorado 7 launch article for a detailed feature list.)



On a tight winding bitumen road, the Colorado 7 is not in its favoured environment. There is more ‘truck’ than ‘wagon’ in its genes; this means a fair bit of body roll and lurching oversteer if you’re pressing on.

But it’s not uncomfortable. The 7’s suspension tuning isolates what’s happening down below reasonably well, and, while it’s no boulevard cruiser, the ride on highway sections and on secondary roads is ok.

I’d put it about on par with the Pajero here, although initial compliance would seem to be a little softer.

Holden's family-workhorse is free of jarring and that fore-aft jiggle that tends to be a feature of mixed-duty four-wheel-drives. In setting up a compromise suspension setting, Holden engineers have got things about right.

With coil springs front and rear, double wishbones up front and a five-link live-axle rear, and quite long suspension travel, you would happily point the Colorado 7 at anywhere on a map of Australia and get there in good shape.

The grunt-filled 2.8 litre diesel engine and six-speed auto is its ace though. It’s an impressive combo, effortless in its torque delivery, and impresses more each time behind the wheel.

With 470Nm and 132kW to call on, it’s a real beast of burden. But it’s also smooth and quiet from inside the cabin and goes about its toil seemingly effortlessly.

On road, it has no trouble getting quickly ‘out and around’ slower traffic. You can paddle it manually (but there’s no point) or let the six-speed auto take care of things.

2013 holden colorado 7 australian launch review 02

Off road, with a dual range transfer case effectively doubling the gear ratios, you’ll never find yourself caught wanting for more torque.

On the steepest climb of the day, one that stopped a few in our convoy, we picked our way up steadily in 2nd gear in low range (and traction control engaged). In nearly any other four-cylinder diesel 4WD I can think of, we would have been in the lowest low ratio.

The transfer case is selected via a 4H and 4L rotary dial at the console. Selecting low range requires a complete stop. Click it in and you can climb a wall.

Helping things off road is the Colorado 7’s very good wheel articulation and long wheel travel.

Being able to keep all wheels on the ground (where you kinda want them to be) over all but the deepest ruts – and using the auto to creep forward smoothly with the revs right in the meat of the torque band – means you can attack a slope without too much momentum and bouncing.

A ramp-over angle of 22-degrees is pretty useful in the rough, as is the 30-degree approach angle, and 22-degrees departure angle. It’s also got an effective hill descent control and limited slip diff.

2013 holden colorado 7 australian launch review 01

We’ll give it a longer and more challenging run around the back of the Thompson Dam over summer and report back.

But on this first foray in the Colorado 7, its off-road capabilities would seem to be pretty impressive.

On the run back, on a relatively smooth gravel logging track, it also performed well. The ESC allows enough slip to be able to tighten the line by sliding the rear, but it won’t let go completely.

There’s not the greatest feel to the power-assisted rack and pinion steering but there’s enough to keep you aware of what’s happening at the road.

If you have to tow something big, the Colorado 7 offers a 3000kg braked towing capacity – that’ll easily take care of a couple of neddies in tow.



If you’re looking for chic style, look somewhere else. This truck isn’t about looking pretty – the Colorado 7.

It’s got seven seats, so it can take a family; it’s got a 3.0-tonne towing capacity, so it won’t have any trouble with the horse float; and it’s got 470Nm nestling in the snout, so you’ll never feel like you’re dragging its guts out when you put it to work.

It’s also a very capable off-roader, one you’d happily plan the trip to the Cape or Simpson Desert around. Something you can’t do with ‘soft-roaders’ like the Santa Fe and Sorento.

The interior is a bit drab, the styling at the rear is a bit – well – lacking in style, and the $46,990 price of entry is a bit of a leap.

But line the Colorado 7 up against the Pajero, Challenger, FJ Cruiser and the like, and, pound for pound, it’s among the least expensive of the heavy-duty 4WD wagons.

It’s ok on road – not great – but we think it’s one that will grow on us the more off-road tracks we point it at.



  • Colorado 7 LT - 6-speed AT - $46,990
  • Colorado 7 LTZ - 6-speed AT - $50,490

Note: prices exclude on-road costs.

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