Well rounded Holden Colorado takes on the competition
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Big vehicles in your line-up mean big business for car companies in New Zealand this year - with sales of commercial vehicles the highest in years. Two big players, Holden and Ford, have had tremendous success this year with their light commercial vehicles, the Colorado and Ranger, with both models taking hits at veteran top seller, Toyota's Hilux.
Taking a knife to a gunfight is never a good idea, but this is the prospect that Holden New Zealand has faced with its Colorado.
While the GM truck and its Colorado 7 SUV stablemate have been under-specced compared to a lot of the competition - most notably Ford's Ranger, the Navara and the Toyota Hilux - both have performed well.
But a recent mid-cycle upgrade to the Colorados has seen Holden's potential fortunes improve markedly.
The Duramax 2 engine has been given a real boost with reworked internals and a new turbocharger punting its power up to 147kW and 440Nm for the 2.8L diesel version of the manual, and up to 500Nm for the six-speed automatic.
Driveability and safety features have also been given a new lease - there's hill start, trailer sway control and downhill descent control, and interior technology has been bumped up with a MyLink infotainment system available on all bar the billy-basic DX version, which is targeted at farmers and other heavy-duty buyers.
The best news is pricing sits in the same place, running from $44,490 to $61,990 depending on the flavour, and its spec now lets it punch above its weight against its many rivals.
As for how the Colorado and Colorado 7 drive now with the host of tweaks, it's good news again.
The interior of the 2014 Holden Colorado.
Its off-road characteristics have markedly improved with the engine now giving a whopping spread of torque across the range. On a very grubby launch in the backblocks of Victoria we put both body styles through the mill, in auto and manual form.
Undoubtedly the auto is the easiest option off the beaten track, with low-range action almost relaxing it takes so little work.
Hill descent control worked brilliantly, even on slippery rocky surfaces and loose, dry, dusty bits on very steep grades.
Off-road enthusiasts might dismiss modern trickery as not being the real deal, but the rest of us do prefer to come out of the bush unscathed.
On the road the Colorados' manners are still very much of the big four-by-four beasts that they are - there's a reasonable amount of road noise and it's not exactly a passing-lane missile, but it has undoubtedly improved.
With most buyers of this type of vehicle breaking away from the "work truck" and looking for a more versatile machine to do the Monday to Friday hard yards and then be a family wagon at the weekend, Holden can certainly tick a few more boxes.
As Holden boss Jeff Murray pointed out: "People who are buying commercials are using them for much more than just carrying bags of cement around."
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