A small issue exists with the monthly breakdown of new vehicle sales data.
The stats show that SUV models dominate the New Zealand market, accounting for about one-in-three new vehicle sales, well ahead of any of the traditional passenger car segments.
The problem is the SUV segment has become so diverse that it seems unfair to bundle baby crossovers such as the Ford Ecosport or Holden Trax into the same category as full-size wagons and six-figure luxury and high-performance crossovers while continuing to separate cars into size categories.
The segments are outdated and belong to a time when a decent-sized chunk of the SUV category comprised vehicles like this Holden Colorado 7 — with a ladder chassis design, high ground clearance wagon, dual range 4x4 offroad competence and seven seats.
The big Holden Colorado 7 is old school. It’s ute based — hence the Colorado name check — with three-row seating, high torque diesel performance and a 3000kg braked towing capacity.
The wagon is an extension of the Colorado ute line-up that has established itself as number three in the New Zealand ute market behind the duelling Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.
Holden has found a sweet spot in the market with a leather trimmed and smartly appointed Colorado 7 LTZ variant at $66,990 that offers more grunt than a Mitsubishi Challenger or Toyota Land Cruiser Prado at a price point just above the Mitsi and well below the entry level of the Prado line-up.
It’s one of those vehicles where you feel you get plenty of metal for your money.
The Colorado 7 is based on the Colorado ute chassis with a switch to five-link coil spring rear suspension providing a more sophisticated ride than the ute’s leaf spring set-up.
The gruff and grunty 2.8 litre diesel is shared with the ute and the six-speed automatic transmission is the same as an increasing number of Colorado 4x4 ute buyers opt for.
Among the advantages of the ute under-pinnings are the full chassis, high-riding ground clearance and low ratio four-wheel drive capability for the rough stuff and heavy duty towing work.
The 2776cc Duramax turbocharged diesel develops 147kW at 3600rpm and gets most its hard-working muscle from the 500Nm of torque available from only 2000rpm.
Holden claims combined cycle fuel consumption of 9.2 litre per 100km and my road test bettered that with an average of 8.9 litre per 100km.
One of the important gains from a late-2014 upgrade has been some work on noise and vibration isolation to make the Colorado 7 noticeably quieter inside and more refined.
The Duramax has strong torque delivery and with the six-speed automatic the gearing makes use of the diesel muscle. At 100km/h the Colorado 7 runs at a relaxed 1600rpm in sixth gear or downshifts to 2000rpm in fifth and 2700rpm in fourth and on long uphill runs the 2.2 tonnes of Colorado 7 happily keeps its momentum.
There have also been some detail revisions to the suspension with what Holden calls a Comfort Suspension tune. It brings a more settled ride across corrugations and at lower speeds on uneven surfaces.
But the Colorado 7 remains a vehicle with a higher centre of gravity and substantial weight so when it’s hurried along the cornering stance relies mainly on the big Bridgestone 265/60 R18 Dueler H/T radials to provide plenty of grip.
The Colorado 7 LTZ has 231mm of ground clearance for work in the rough stuff along with dual range 4x4 capability. Safety and driver assist features include electronic stability and traction control along with hill start assist, descent control system and a trailer sway control function.
New Zealand gets the well appointed LTZ specification — you can place a special order for the cloth-trimmed and 16-inch alloy wheel LT model.
The LTZ specification includes a dual tone black/grey leather trim, rear air-conditioning controls and as part of the late-2014 upgrade heated front seats become part of the standard equipment.
The driver’s seat has power cushion height and slide/recline adjustments but gives away its ute origins with a steering column that is tilt — but not reach — adjustable.
There’s an alarm and immobiliser system, piano black centre fascia and gearshift finish and the MyLink touchscreen audio and entertainment system — but it doesn’t include navigation.
In terms of practicality the Colorado 7 has a useful dual glovebox layout, a dashtop storage box and small front door bins. USB and auxiliary connections are located in the centre console storage box.
The exterior of the big wagon is dressed up with front fog lamps, side steps, silver roof rails, six-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome mirrors with indicator repeaters and LED tail lights.
Seven-seater wagon space — in a 2-3-2 seating layout — is another appeal of the Colorado 7 and it’s just as likely to be used as a people mover as a 4x4 workhorse. The front seats are firm with plenty of cushion length and a little bit of side bolster support to accompany the power adjustment on the driver’s seat.
There’s good second row passenger headroom with generous footwell space and a slightly raised centre seat position. The second row seat is in a 60/40 split arrangement for both the backrest and cushion and tumbles forward for access into the third row. Two Isofix attachments and three tether points are provided for securing child seats in the second row.
It’s a 50/50 split folding third row arrangement where you sit up high with tight headroom and kneeroom.
There’s only 235 litres of load space when all three rows of seats are in use but that expands to 554 litres with the third row folded away and there’s a generous 1830 litres with the second row folded as well.
The Colorado 7 works as a mix of heavy-duty workhorse offering serious offroad capability and towing ability with family-friendly seven-seat wagon versatility.
HOLDEN COLORADO 7 LTZ $66,990
Engine 2776cc 16-valve four-cylinder direct injection turbocharged diesel Maximum output 147kW at 3600rpm Maximum torque 500Nm at 2000rpm Length 4878mm Width 1902mm Height 1845mm Wheelbase 2845mm Kerb weight 2210kg Fuel tank capacity 76 litres Wheels 18-inch alloy Tyres Bridgestone Dueler H/T 265/60 R18 radial
Dual front airbags Driver’s seat and side curtain airbags Front seatbelt pretensioners and load force limiters Front seatbelt reminders Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control Descent Control System Trailer Sway Control Anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist Reverse Camera Rear parking sensor Three point centre rear seat belt and third row seat belts 2 x ISOFIX child seat mountings 3 x child seat tether points Alarm and immobiliser security system Full size spare wheel (16-inch alloy)
CRASH TEST RATING Overall rating (2012 Australasian NCAP rating) ★★★★★
FUEL ECONOMY Combined (claimed) 9.2 litres per 100km