If the idea was to achieve a compromise between heavy-duty off-road ability and on-road comfort, the Colorado 7 is there.
Base price: $66,900
Powertrain and performance: 2.8-litre turbo diesel four, 132kW/470Nm, 6-speed automatic, part-time four-wheel drive with low-range transfer and limited-slip differential, combined economy 9.4 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4878mm long, 1847mm high, 2845mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 235/878/1830 litres, fuel tank 76 litres. Ground clearance 231mm, rampover angle 22 degrees, approach/departure angles 30/22 degrees. Tow rating 3000kg (braked).
We like: Tough nature, honest about its intentions, good third-row seating.
We don’t like: Styling awkward at the rear, cheap cabin materials, expensive.
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Once upon a time, sports utility vehicles were simply trucks with wagon bodies on top. They carried the family, but they could also tow boats/big trailers and venture into hard-core off-road territory.
There aren’t many around like that anymore. But Holden reckons there’s a market for such a vehicle and here it is: the Colorado 7, which is basically a Colorado ute that’s been reconfigured into a seven-seat wagon.
It’s not intended to be a rival for crossover-type vehicles. But it is intended to appeal to buyers who to really use their lifestyle vehicles in the great outdoors.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Being the dressed-up ute that it is, the Colorado 7 does not match the refinement of the modern crossover generation. It’s a big, noisy, strong and honest performer, with the six-speed automatic gearbox a good conduit for 4670Nm of torque.
However, Holden has done a fair bit of work in making the 7 more tarmac-friendly than its load-carrying cousin. The suspension has been retuned and while the live axle is retained at the back (necessary for maximum articulation off-road), the leaf springs have been replaced with more sophisticated coils.
If the idea was to achieve a compromise between heavy-duty off-road ability and on-road comfort, the Colorado 7 is there. The steering of our test car was prone to vibration in urban 90-degree corners, but overall the car points well at open-road speeds, is well-controlled and while the ride is always a little fidgety, it avoids the pitching so often associated with separate-chassis off-road vehicles.
It’s quiet than the Colorado ute too, which is surprising given that the cabin area is larger and therefore more prone to mechanical and road noise resonating. Holden has done its homework here as well.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
Touch truck it might be, but our top-specification Colorado 7 LTZ comes with a few luxuries. Over the entry model it boasts 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, chrome mirror caps, projector-type headlights, LED tail lights, climate air conditioning, leather upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat and eight-speaker stereo.
The cabin is nicely styled but the plastics are more light-commercial grade than luxury wagon. There’s a good range of adjustment for the driver’s seat, but no telescopic function for the steering column.
Cargo space is cavernous but the packaging is both good and bad. The centre row tumble-folds (the squab is hinged at the front) out of the way to give you a load space all the way to the floor. However, you can take advantage of the entire length/height of the load bay for large items because the third row is bolted to the floor – so while the seatbacks fold flat, the base can’t be moved.
Not ideal, but the plus side is that those third-row seats are a really good size, with decent head and legroom.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
You’ll immediately know if you want a Colorado 7 because vehicles of this type – hard-core off-road capability, seven seats, mighty tow rating – are dying breeds. It doesn’t stack up on-road compared with crossover vehicles, but it’s certainly much quieter and more capable on seal than the Colorado ute.
The closest thing on the market at the moment is the Mitsubishi Challenger and the Colorado 7 beats it hands-down. It might come into its own 10 years down the track as a tow/recreational wagon. At the moment, it’s still a very likeable, honest and unpretentious machine.
If all those stories about flash double-cab utes seldom carrying anything in their trays are true, something like the Colorado 7 presents as a good alternative.
Just don’t mistake it for a seven-seat crossover that puts comfort ahead of rock-climbing ability. That’s what the big-selling Holden Captiva is for.
Air conditioning: Single-zone climate
Audio: CD with auxiliary plug and mini-USB input
Automatic lights/wipers: No/no
Cruise control: Yes
Keyless entry/start: No/no
Leather upholstery: Yes
Parking radar: Rear with camera
Power seat adjustment: Driver only
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat heating/cooling: No/No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Split/folding rear seats: Centre row 60/40 tumble-folding; third row 50/50, folds but fixed to floor
Steering reach adjustment: No