Holden Colorado Z71 2016 new ute review

Holden has muscled its way in, bringing a quite aggressive upgrade to the Colorado.

Darren Cottingham
Darren Cottingham
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

For utes, the Hilux used to be king, but a few years ago Toyota relied too much on the kaizen (continuous incremental improvement) that it was famous for and let Ford create a higher luxe with a massive improvement.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 3.5 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Value , 4 out of 5

Overall score , 4.1 out of 5

The good
  • Intimidating looks
  • Towing and load carrying ability
The not-so-good
  • Not as good on-road as the market leader

Holden has muscled its way in, bringing a quite aggressive upgrade to the Colorado that lays a punch in the gut of the Ranger Wildtrack and an elbow to the jaw of the Hilux SR5. 

Holden has stopped referring to it as a ute and is now calling it a truck, just like ‘Murica does, where it would be mid-sized (even though it seems huge for NZ roads). The Colorado Z71 is top of the range.


It lives in the penthouse of the Colorado ute range, with fitments such as heated leather front seats, dark grey 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, nudge bar, chrome headlight surrounds, black door handles and Z71 decals on the tailgate and bonnet. 

There’s even a hard top fitted to our review vehicle’s cargo tray, making it what I can only imagine as less functional than a large SUV. It’s a lot more rugged in a chiselled, catalogue model kind of way.

I like the exterior a lot; the interior, on the other hand, could have done with a bit more work. Yes, it’s a truck and it has to maintain some functional utility, and it’s even got a substantial amount of legroom for a dual cab, but the instruments and dashboard are starting to show their age.

Grade braking

A lot of these Colorados are going to end up driving around the city, so how is it? The engine is a bit noisy when using grade braking (engine braking downhill) and when it blips the throttle on downshifts like a wannabe Maserati. I’m certain it’s better than before, though.

It wanders around on the road in the kind of bouncy way that unladen utes with leaf springs on the back do, but again it feels like an improvement, especially in the steering feel which is now similar to a car. The brakes are still a little spongy. Holden has worked a lot on making the Colorado drive more confidently on-road.

You can chuck it around a bit in the corners if you don’t mind the tyres protesting and you’re prepared to hang on because the seats are flat with very little side bolstering.

Fortunately for Holden’s engineers, there were a lot of areas that could be improved from the previous model, especially the refinement and safety aspects. Safety technology such as collision warning and lane departure warning are trickling down from the car range.

It’s got 7 airbags and a welcome reversing camera, and there’s trailer sway and descent control, hill hold, and electronic stability control.

Plastics quality is improved and it comes with extra functions like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

For a big truck, it’s got a good turn of speed off the line from its 147kW 2.8-litre turbocharged diesel engine. This is the same engine as before, and with 500Nm of torque it has a towing capacity of 3500kg on a braked trailer, matching its peers, and will take over a tonne in the tray. It’s also plenty of power for overtaking manoeuvres or motorway cruising.

The bronze medal

The Colorado range is in bronze medal place in New Zealand commercial vehicle sales market share with around 8%, behind the Ranger (19%) and the Hilux (14%), and ahead of the Mitsubishi Triton (7%). There are no figures for the top-of-the-line models on their own, though. 

At $66,990 it’s $2500 cheaper than the Ranger Wildtrak and $3,500 cheaper than the Hilux SR5. With these types of vehicles it’s more about the image of ruggedness as opposed to the actual capability. Hardcore users that value off-road capability are probably not going to buy the halo models; they’re more likely to be used for towing boats and horse floats.

While I don’t think this model is going to win the market share race, I do expect it to make up some ground.

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