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Ute

2019 Holden Colorado LTZ

Holden‘s Colorado is a solid competitor in the 2 and 4 wheel drive ute market, Up against the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Nissan Navara it provides a worthy alternative, especially in the three key areas: payload, torque, and towing. We drive the four door 4WD capable LTZ and visit a hidden secret in the massive and beautiful Megalong Valley.The Colorado has a 2.8L diesel engine. Badged Duramax it has a peak power output of 147kW at 3600rpm, but it’s the 500 torques from the twin cam four valve engine that’s the appeal.That’s an an eminently useable 2000rpm for the auto, with 440Nm available for the manual versions. Tank capacity is 76L and unfortunately it’s needed. The 5361mm long machine is no lightweight with a gross vehicle mass of 3150kg and a kerb weight of 2128kg with economy finishing on a surprisingly high 11.1L/100km.Being a smallish diesel that 500Nm is pretty impressive. Consider the 3.2L diesel in Ford’s Ranger, that’s 470Nm and the same kilowattage. Nissan’s Navara produces 450Nm across the range of 1500-2500rpm. The smoothness of the drive-train is also impressive, with only a few hints of indecisiveness under way, and it holds gears on long downhill runs. It’s a reasonable puller on and off road, with tarmac drive manners subtle, restrained, and perhaps just a little slower than likeable off the line. Mid-range drive is understandably better and there’s a smooth progression though the gears, albeit with more noise up front than some others.Take it off road, onto some unsettled and rutted limestone style tracks, with gravel and marble sized coverings such as that found on the entry road to the beautifully located Dryridge Estate. This is at the far southern end of the Megalong Valley road, a twenty or so minute drive from Blackheath in the western fringes of the Blue Mountains. It’s a surface that needs the Colorado in 4WD to alleviate a loose tail end as in 2WD a loss of traction was not uncommon. 4WD High Range solved that and instantly the confidence level of the LTZ Colorado improved. Blind, tight, turns in 2WD had the pucker factor dialed up, but in 4WD the grip level hauled the big machine around and with nary a hint of fuss. For low range work a centre console dial is all that is needed. As there’s a proper mechanical transfer case on board the Colorado must be stationary before engaging 4WD low range though.The Colorado LTZ has the typical spongy ride of a 4WD capable ute, not least in part thanks to the big rubber underneath. Bridgestone and Holden have had a long relationship and the Dueler H/T 235/60/18 is no stranger to the brand. The relatively high sidewall and softish compound add extra bounce and also does aid absorption of some of the smaller ruts and ripples found on tarmac and these gravelly surfaces.The steering ratio and the feel itself are better tuned than some others. Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport stands out as one with a more rubber cord twisted feel left to right and back. The Colorado is more agile and nuanced in its feel. On the run down to Dryridge Estate the need for a tighter ratio and feedback is crucial. The road is shrouded in shadow for most of the day and some of those coat the more difficult to negotiate turns downhill. Here that response time and need to have a communicative steering is important and the Colorado LTZ delivers. On the gravel into Dryridge Estate the steering provided plenty of feedback too, with some of the ruts grabbing the front tyres and with the lack of freeplay the steering lets the driver know.Sadly it’s inside where it doesn’t. It’s generic GM and it’s frankly boring. The switchgear, the texture to the plastics, the reflection of the upper dash into the windscreen, and the driver’s binnacle are all without appeal. A word in certain levels that suits is “meh”. The seats are covered in cloth and the weave is a dullish dark grey print. The steering wheel is slabby and isn’t helped by the muted tones of the rest of the interior trim. The dual zone climate control controls look the same as any in the GM family, but there are a couple of upsides. There’s Digital Audio Broadcast radio, otherwise known as DAB. The tuner in the LTZ performed well compared to others, with its sensitivity to the digital signal quite high. Sound quality was also good and the equalf of of some more expensive vehicles through the multi-speaker system. There’s also a plus for the amount of leg/head/shoulder room, app connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the embedded apps too.There’s a soft tonneau cover fitted to the test car, and it’s a simple hook and loop system to remove or fit. The tub itself is huge and at 1790mm long, 1122mm wide between the arches, it’ll be capable of holding enough cargo to suit many applications. Towing is also class leading at 3500kg. Colour range is reasonable with the test car clad in Absolute Red, with silver, black, blue, white, silver, and a brown called Auburn Brown available.

Safety isn’t overlooked and it’s a solid list from the Colorado LTZ. Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, seven airbags including drivers knee kick it off. Tyre pressure monitoring is here as is the full traction control suite of electronic assistance programs plus front and rear park assist. Reverse camera at the rear and LED driving lights up front add to the safety factor. It’s family friendly with ISOFIX seat mounts too. Other family items such as a rear seat passenger friendly 12V socket, driver’s foot rest, and keyless remote start are welcome additions.

At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing Holden are offering a drive-away price of $49,990 for the Colorado LTZ. That’s for the manual version. It’s $51,990 for the auto version as tested. There’s also a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty to back that up. Five years worth of roadside assistance is included. The first seven services are set at a capped price. There’s some serious incentives to get into the Colorado range and the LTZ in particular. It’s a good enough drive, a tad thirstier than expected, and is seriously let down by the interior. Being a world car it has to appeal to many different markets and here is where Holden is up against getting the interior to look more appropriate for our tastes. Check it out for yourself by going to the Colorado info page

Why We Shouldn’t Phase Out ICE Vehicles Yet

 

Hello, I’m a mule – the very first hybrid form of transport.

In certain parts of the world – Europe, to be specific – governments have pledge to stop the sales of new cars that are powered by internal combustion engines only (aka ICE vehicles, where ICE stands for internal combustion engine).  This means that any new cars sold in these countries will be hybrids or pure electrics.

First, before we all panic and start stockpiling petrol and diesel because we aren’t ready to ditch our favourite sets of wheels yet, let’s clarify a few things.   Firstly, Australia hasn’t made any such pledge yet, although certain political parties are starting to talk about it.  Secondly, what will be phased out is the sale of NEW cars only.  Presumably, second-hand car dealers will still have ICE vehicles sitting out in the yards (possibly quite a few of them if all the ones that have been kicked off UK roads make it over here).  And they’ll still have to sell petrol and diesel to run (a) the older cars, (b) the diesel or petrol parts of the hybrids and (c) things like motorbikes that haven’t really caught onto the whole electric thing yet.

Nevertheless, I don’t really want to jump on the “let’s phase out ICE cars” bandwagon.  I don’t think we’re quite ready for that yet.

First of all, there’s the issue of range in pure EVs.  Mercifully, we now have enough charging points along the A1 highway so you won’t get stranded in the middle of the Nullabor, but even so, it takes at least half an hour to fully charge an EV.  This means that your Great Australian Road Trip is going to take even longer than it would otherwise.  Plan accordingly.  However, although the main highways around the perimeter are pretty well provided with charging points, there are bits of the country where the charging points are spaced out further than the typical range of an EV.  This is not good news for, say, park rangers, farmers and rural nurses.  The developers are going to have to really, really work hard to get better range for EVs before these groups are going to even think about buying one.  I keep getting this mental picture of some rural midwife trying to head out to some rural woman going into labour but being held up by (a) detouring to the nearest charging point and (b) waiting for half an hour to charge her vehicle.  Don’t even think about what would happen with emergency service vehicles.

I kind of hope that the Powers That Be who are going to make the decisions about our national vehicle fleet go out and spend a day riding shotgun with some of the folk in our rural communities to get an idea of the distances they drive… and at least put in a few more charging points before they decide to kit out all the nurses with EVs.  Not sure what they’ll be able to do for the park rangers.  Carrying about a diesel generator to power up a vehicle in the middle of nowhere kind of seems to defeat the purpose of promoting EVs in the first place.

Anyway, there’s another issue, and it’s one that affect those in cities as well.  Now, the majority of EVs and hybrids are smaller vehicles.  When it comes to practical commercial vehicles that your typical tradie can use, it’s a different story.  Yes, there are some great hybrid SUVs available, such as the Volvo XC90  and the BMW X5 , but these aren’t your typical choice for a tradie.  As for the Tesla X SUV…  I, for one, would start wondering how much my plumber or electrician charges per hour if I saw him/her driving around in a high-end SUV.  At least Mitsubishi and Nissan have some offerings, including a 2WD version of the Nissan Pathfinder  and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV  (which is reported to be the most popular hybrid/EV in Australia).

Your typical electrician, plumber, builder or landscape gardener usually prefers to drive a ute or van, preferably one with lots of torque to tow a massive trailer as well as lots of load space.  I know this all too well, as the other half is a landscape gardener and I’ve seen the amount of gear he carries in the trailer and carts around in various bits of the trusty dual-cab Navara ute.  Given what your typical tradie charges per hour – which has to be affordable in order to be competitive – new cars aren’t usually on the cards.  A phase-out of ICE vehicles would mean that second-hand vehicles would still be an option for your tradies… but what happens further down the track?  If nobody’s bought brand new hybrid/EV utes and vans then there won’t be any second-hand ones for your small-scale tradies to purchase.  Let’s hope that if the phase-out happens, larger operators will get themselves a fleet of hybrid utes and vans that can then go on down the line.  Either that or the banks are going to have to be nicer to owner-operator tradies so they can finance something brand new.

Tradies also clock up quite a few kilometres just around town, which means that even if pure EV commercial vehicles were available yet, your tradies would have to spend ages charging up possibly at least once a day. This means that you could be left waiting for the plumber (assuming he or she does emergency call-outs) for that little bit longer while your toilet refuses to flush and/or overflows.  Half an hour can be a long time when you’re waiting for the dunny…

At the moment, there aren’t a whole lot of hybrid or electric vans and utes out there on the roads – at least not yet.  Renault  has one electric van that’s going to arrive very soon, Haval has plans for a hybrid ute and there’s even talk about a hybrid version of my favourite tradie’s beloved Nissan Navara.  But they’re still in the future (we’ll let you know when they arrive). Even if a big construction company wanted to kit all of its builders out with hybrid or electric commercial vehicles as soon as they hit these shores, this would still be some way off.

There’s also the issue of all the investment and research into biofuels, but that’s worth taking another whole post to discuss.

In short, it’s too soon to talk seriously about phasing out ICE vehicles in Australia simply because we don’t have enough suitable new replacements for the current vehicle fleet that have the range and the practical ability of the petrol and diesel units currently available.  Although your Green Party members living in the city could probably make the switch to purely electric vehicles tomorrow and not be affected (and I hope they’ve already made the switch and put their money where their mouth is), there’s a significant proportion of typical Aussies who can’t make the switch yet and will have to stick with ICE vehicles for a while yet.  Be patient, folks.  Although there may come a day when hybrid vehicles and EVs triumph, today is not that day.

Utes are Great

What makes a good ute?

The word “ute” has its roots in Australian slang vocabulary and is a short word that describes a utility vehicle.  Utes can be single or double cabs; the single cab has just the two seats or a bench seat to cater for the driver and front passenger/s, though the bench seat is less common these days.  The added practicality of having an extra three seats in the rear of the double cab ute is often the reason why people prefer the double cab over the single cab.  The single cab with a large tray allows you to throw all your tools in the back, and a spacious double cab ensures the whole family can come along for the ride.

Practicality is probably the number one reason many people buy themselves a ute.  Being able to throw some rubbish, posts or firewood onto the deck is really easy when you have yourself a ute.  The tray out the back is capable of carrying way more than you ever could in your sedan, hatchback or wagon and you’re often in hot demand when your mates are shifting house.  You can often buy 2WD or 4WD models – as is the case with many of the utes you’ll find on sale.  Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Great Wall, Mitsubishi Triton are just some of the utes you’ll find on sale that can provide you with 2WD or 4WD alternatives.

Utes are also built tougher than your usual sedans and wagons.  Designed and built to work hard reliably, the chassis has been built tough to withstand heavier loads and provide strong towing capabilities.  Obviously, the 4WD option will be offering a little more protection under the ute, mud plug tyres and a raised ride height – many 4WD utes can end up going some pretty way-out-there places.  It’s very common to see a 4×4 ute towing the boat to the lake or a trailer full of kayacks.  4WD traction means that getting the boat down to the water and away again in slippery conditions is a breeze.

Many people opt for the dual cab ute because it can double as a work and family vehicle.  Having the extra seats for the kids at school or on holidays is always going to be handy.  A couple of decades ago, the ute was pretty basic and they had interiors that you could clean out using a bucket and a broom.  Land Rover’s Defender still has this ability, and even some of the bog standard Japanes utes are rugged enough to be able to handle a slosh of water from the bucket and a broom to clean out the muddy interior.  Most modern utes, whilst relatively tough on the inside, are actually very comfortable to drive and offer many luxuries and plenty of electronic gadgets like leather seats, fancy audio systems, satellite navigation and Bluetooth communications.  Come cleaning time, these modern higher spec models need a little more care than just a slosh with a bucket of water and a broom!

I also see the ute as an asset in the safety arena.  The modern ute is well equipped with safety equipment – some makes are better than others – but most provide airbags, ESC and ABS.  Having a higher ride height – particularly in the 4×4 utes – is also advantageous.

The best utes are built tough while continuing to be comfortable to drive.  It’s hard to go past a new Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok or Ford Ranger, as these are some of the best in the business when it comes to ruggedness and comfort.

Having plenty of torque under the hood to tow some heavy metal is a big plus.  Holden’s Colorado, Ford’s Ranger and Nissan’s Navara are plenty powerful.

Choosing a new ute isn’t always an easy decision to make.  In many ways, it’s tougher than picking out your average, everyday car.  Not only do ute buyers want something big enough to carry their livestock, weekend gear or tools, they’re after a vehicle that’s reliable and functional enough to keep up with weighty lifestyle demands of work and play.  Farmers and tradies will place a lot of trust in their utes –they are after all a workhorse.

The new Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Toyota HiLux and Volkswagen Amarok are the main rivals vying for top spot.  Foton, Great Wall and Mahindra are also handy utes worth considering.  Ford’s Falcon ute and Holden’s Commodore ute are immensely comfortable and powerful low profile RWD utes with a car-like drive for the long haul.