DAVE MOORE: Colorado Z71 - Holden's gentrified work ute

24/02/2017
Poshed-up utes are big business, and a Z71 paint job might make Holden’s top ute look like a Camaro, but it’s a great drive and you can see why the Colorado line-up outsells the Commodore range on both sides of the Tasman, says DAVE MOORE.

I don't wear shorts very often, but with Canterbury's great weather - sorry, Auckland and Wellington - it seemed rude not to. The biggest drawback of course is the searing hair-removing pain I used to get when jumping into old vinyl-seated cars during the time when I always wore shorts - say 40 years ago.

I thought of this when leaping back into my Holden Colorado ute last week. In mid-air I was wincing in preparation for the expectation of thigh-on-seat torture. I was almost disappointed to find slightly warmed hide under me instead - no wincing matter at all. The ute had the Z71 package which includes uprated suspension, high connectivity and entertainment specs, big wheels, roof rails, a neat load area lid - and leather seats.

The Z71 you see is Holden's take on the trend towards gentrified poshed-up Utes, and I must say I approve of said trend. In the slow, slow return towards normal conditions in Christchurch, driving something with room, a view and good suspension is a must.

Not to mention a decent set of equipment, a sound system that links with your phone and some home comforts if it's to be your only vehicle, one that's used at weekends for pleasure as well as spending weekdays on site.

When the Thai-built Colorado was facelifted a lot of work was done to the car’s underpinnings and powertrain, as since the model’s launch in 2011 the opposition has been hard at work, while the ute in general has leapfrogged the hatches, SUVs and sedans of this world and become the largest single slot in the market, dominating showrooms and parking spots throughout the country. A mark of the Colorado’s importance is that it outsells the doomed Commodore on both sides of the Tasman - a story that Commodore fans treat as fake news.

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The Colorado Z71 sits at the top of the Colorado castle and at $66,990 auto and $64,990 manual it’s just $5500 more than the Colorado LTZ 4x4 Crew-Cab that sits below it in a range that starts at $46,990. The Z71 gets heated leather front seats, 18-inch alloys coated in Arsenal Grey, nudge bar, roof rails, dark chrome headlight surrounds, a gloss black finish to the wing mirrors and tailgate handle, black door handles and door mouldings, plus Z71 decals on the bonnet and tailgate.

There's also a bar and tray cover with fin-like side blades that extend from the roof to the load area’s flanks. It may look more like a surf club rescue vehicle than a work ute, but I like it and so did the dog - important when you’re in the posh ute set!

Big changes were wrought to the cabin at facelift time and the well-shaped, cosy leather seats dominate, while a much more modern dash and bigger dials and screens have been included, and I reckon it’s a nicer, more modern place to sit than just about any other vehicle in the Holden line-up. The eight-inch touch screen is delightful and the GM/Holden and the MylInk media system's ease of use and common sense is palpable.

As I said, Christhurch’s pock-marked streets are a test for any truck’s underpinnings and the updated Z71 suspension is well-nigh perfect while the truck’s body control is much improved and you feel confident in the way the Colorado goes where it’s supposed to - believe me not all pickup trucks do this. Meaty, talkative steering means you always feel well apprised of things occurring at ground level and this shows up nicely when you’re on riverbeds, shingle banks and dirt tracks when you’re always aware of which way the wheels are pointing and how much purchase they have.

The 484mm x 1534mm load area can take 1086kg and with good secure locators for bungies and ropes . The Z71 has a five star ANCAP crash rating like all Colorados and there’s traction and stability control, ABS, EBD, hill hold function, trailer sway and descent control.

The Z71 is the best in the model’s line-up and it also best demonstrates how much the Colorado has caught up with and in some cases passed the pickup pack in New Zealand. I like the way it looks, and while it takes some effort and fingernails to remove the posh, hinged load lid for serious loads, practice makes the process easier and quicker. With excellent road manners a simple twist 2H, 4H and 4L drive selector and the latest MyLink set-up the Z71 is a cracking good work and play ute. And while you don’t need to wear shorts to do it justice, you won’t burn your thighs if you choose to. A win-win then!

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2.8L Colorado Z71 Crew Cab Diesel

Auto $66,990, manual $64,990 - other Colorados from $46,490.
Fuel consumption: 216g/km CO2 Tank 76L
Safety: 5-star ANCAP
Seats: 5
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service Interval: 9 months/15,000km
Engine: 2.8-litre turbo 4-cyl diesel, 147kW/440Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or auto, 4WD
Spare: Full sized
Turning circle: 12.7m diameter
Dimensions: 5347mm (L), 1882mm (W), 1780mm (H)

Equipment:

MyLink 8" Infotainment system with reversing camera and parking sensors, Apple CarPlay® and Android® Auto, Embedded Satellite Navigation, 18" Arsenal Grey Metallic Wheels. Heated leather seats, Z71 decals and bodykit.