7 Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab

Off-road performance

HOLDENíS entrant may have a face that clearly links it to the family, and a Lion logo the size of a Frisbee, but it was developed by GM in Brazil, has an Italian engine, is built in Thailand, and shares chassis and body hardpoints with the Isuzu D-Max. The tuneable bits (springs, dampers and anti-roll bars) received attention from Holden, with a softer tune to make on-road dynamics more palatable for buyers used to unibody SUV comfort levels.

Before we get to that, though, we need to get past the lack of cabin ambience, the hard plastics, the flimsy storage compartment lids, the fussy and dated instruments, and the fact that even in this LTZ spec (a grade higher than much of the field here), any sort of service like navigation requires your smartphone and your data. Our test carís seats are finished in grey vinyl-look leather while the gloss black trim in the centre console and around the circular HVAC system does little to distract you from the obvious cost-cutting.

This could be overlooked if the powertrain was a model of refinement and efficiency, but itís not. The big fourpot Ė 2.8 litres, force-fed by a single turbo Ė comes from VM Motori, now owned by Fiat-Chrysler, which relieved GM of its 50 percent stake in 2013. It takes only minutes behind the wheel to realise why GM wanted out. Despite the addition of extra sound insulation as part of last yearís MY15 upgrades, itís still loud for this class and objects to being revved. And it only meets Euro 4 emissions, not the Euro 5 standard achieved by the others here.

On the road, the big Holden is passable provided you donít ask too much of it.

The engineís gruffness and noise is only intrusive beyond the peak power point, and GMís six-speed auto does a decent job of upshifting early to tap into the bottom of the solid, but narrow, torque spread to keep the big rig surfing along. Driven flatout itís even (just) quickest in class, though other issues make that inadvisable.

The move to softer chassis settings makes the Colorado less jarring and uncomfortable than before, but on any typically lumpy B-road thereís a problem with the relationship between the cabin and whatís going on down at road level.

The body wobbles on the chassis as though the two elements are connected with jelly pots rather than anything youíd find in the hardware department. Hit a bumpy section and the wheel shimmies in your hands, as the whole plot quivers and quakes.

On dirt, the ESC is deftly calibrated to quickly curb spinning wheels and gently restrict slides, but over corrugations the steering kickback reaches eye-widening levels. At least the fast-acting ABS allows you to quickly scrub off speed to something less likely to cause further affront from the steering.

Itís a shame the platform and engine are well short of whatís needed, but Holden is working on another round of upgrades (due later this year) aimed at addressing drivetrain NVH issues, and improving cabin quality and functionality. Weíre not expecting miracles, but if youíre wedded to the brand, it could be worth waiting to see what the updated model brings. For everyone else, keep reading. AW

Off-road performance

Like all the contenders here bar the Amarok, the Colorado offers a lowrange four-wheel-drive mode. But the lack of a rear diff lock does put it at a disadvantage when the going gets properly steep and snotty. Granted, most owners would not attempt the almost absurdly steep and deeply rutted trail used by our test team, but it was telling that more than half the field was able to make the climb. The Colorado didnít Ė only just Ė once the rear axle hit max articulation and traction headed south.

Specs

$53,190 Engine 2776cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, TD Power 147kW @ 3600rpm Torque 500Nm @ 2000-2200rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) 5347/1882/1780/3096mm Weight 2119kg Tray capacity 825kg Braked towing capacity 3500kg Unbraked towing capacity 750kg Ground clearance 210mm Tyres Bridgestone Dueler H/T 255/65R17 ADR81 fuel cons 9.1L/100km 0-100km/h 10.2sec 0-400m 17.4sec @ 130.6km/h 80-120km/h 7.9sec 3yr resale 59% . Large engine capacity so high torque; comparatively swift . Gruff engine; wobbly on-road dynamics; chintzy interior

5.0/10

@wheelsaustralia 111 Driven flat-out, the Colorado is quickest in class