The Z71 sits at the top of the Colorado range and adds a host of styling features over the LTZ model to make it stand out from lesser, run-of-the-mill dual-cab utes. As well as the black-out bonnet, the Z71 scores roof rails, Arsenal Grey 18-inch wheels, black door handles, tailgate handle and mirrors, unique front bumper and sports bar, and, of course, Z71 decals.
What is the 2018 Holden Colorado Z71?
Mechanically identical to any other Holden Colorado 4x4 dual-cab ute, the Z71 adds visual flare courtesy a bunch of styling additions, and equipment level is on a par with the high-spec Colorado LTZ, with a few minor additions. As such, it sits at the top of the Colorado price list and in dual-cab guise it costs $54,990; the auto as fitted to this test vehicle adds $2200 to bring the price to $57,190.
The Colorado is powered by a 2.8-litre DOHC four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (called Duramax). It makes an impressive 147kW at 3600rpm and 500Nm of torque at 2000rpm when mated to the six-speed auto. Colorado has a two-speed transfer case and part-time, shift-on-the-fly 4x4 system.
Chassis and suspension is standard for the class with separate body on chassis construction, independent double wishbone coil spring front suspension and a live-axle rear with leaf springs.
Standard equipment across the Colorado range includes Holden MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, seven-inch colour touchscreen and DAB+ radio. The LT model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, side steps, front fog lights and carpet. There’s a more substantial step up to the LTZ, which scores a larger eight-inch colour touchscreen, satnav, voice recognition, seven-speaker premium audio, 18-inch alloys, power folding and heated exterior mirrors, rain sensing wipers, LED tail lights, soft tonneau cover, alloy sports bar, climate control and six-way powered driver’s seat. The Colorado Z71 loses the LTZ’s heated exterior mirrors but gains 18-inch Arsenal Grey alloy wheels, black leather seat trim, heated front seats with embroidered Z71 headrests, Sailplane sports bar with side rails, unique soft tonneau cover and roof rails, along with black bits replacing a lot of the LTZ’s chrome bits.
What’s the interior like?
The interior of the Colorado Z71 provides a blend of basic functionality with a touch of sportiness. Despite the leather seats with embroidered ‘Z71 4x4’ logos, there’s no hiding this ute’s commercial-vehicle origins; the trim is predominantly grey, with a mix of hard and soft plastics and some silver highlights around the centre vents, on the steering wheel and down on the centre console. And the hard plastics are prone to marking such as on the glovebox lid, the centre console and the door trims.
The overall interior design is pleasing enough, with big switches and controls, and the bright 8-inch colour touchscreen, but there are a couple obvious blanked-out switches that lower the tone a little.
There’s plenty of space up front with loads of fore/aft adjustment, but the steering is adjustable for rake only, so the driving position won’t suit everyone, particularly taller drivers. The heated front seats are quite flat in the base; they’re not uncomfortable but could do with a bit more shape and bolstering for better support. There are auxiliary and USB ports in the small bin beneath the centre armrest, a couple of cup holders in the centre console, a cup holder in each door and a 12V power outlet on the dash.
The Colorado offers decent legroom for rear seat occupants but width could become an issue if you try to squeeze three adults across the back. When the centre position is unoccupied there’s a fold-down armrest, and those in the outer rear seats score door-pocket cup holders, pockets in the back of the front seats and a 12V power outlet, but no rear air vents.
The Z71’s generous tray is accessed via an awkward-to-use soft tonneau cover that’s rolled up and tied back with straps when not in use. The Sailplane sports bar’s side rails continue down each side of the tray, which might look neat but doesn’t help the load-carrying cause. It also hinders rearward visibility from the driver’s seat; I often found myself looking twice over my shoulder when lane changing, as the sports bar would catch my eye and make me think there was another vehicle beside me. There are four cargo tie-down hooks in the tray but none are located on the floor where they would be of most use.
What’s it like on the road?
The Colorado offers good on-road ride quality for a ute, even when unladen. Sure, it’s a little firm in the rear, but it’s reasonably compliant considering its one-tonne payload capacity. Even on crook roads it does a good job of soaking up bumps and potholes, and always manages to maintain its composure. The electrically assisted power steering offers a nice feel and well-weighted assistance and, for a high-riding 4x4 ute, body roll is well controlled.
The Colorado’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is a ripper. With loads of torque from low in the rev range, it’s perfectly suited to a vehicle that will occasionally haul heavy loads, as well as likely see some towing action (maximum braked towing capacity is 3500kg). Overall gearing is tall (1600rpm at 100km/h in top gear) and the engine handles it well; the Colorado will happily lope along up hill and down dale in top gear with as little as 1700rpm showing on the tacho.
Of course, if you want the engine to rev, it will. Put your boot into it and it’ll go to 4000rpm before the six-speed auto grabs another gear. If you want to examine the area between 4000rpm and the 4500rpm redline, you’ll have to shift the transmission across to the manual mode and hold it in gear.
While the six-speed auto isn’t the smoothest shifting transmission around, it does have a nice trait when off-throttle, enthusiastically downshifting on descents to help maintain a set speed. It’s particularly good when the cruise control is on and you don’t want speed to get away from you on long downhill sections of highway.
The Colorado offers good road noise isolation, wind noise suppression and a quiet engine, making the cabin a pleasant space when driving at highway speeds on the open road.
Average fuel consumption on test was 10.5L/100km, which results in a touring range in excess of 650km from the 76-litre fuel tank.
What’s it like off the road?
Off-road? The Colorado is not bad… but not great. Good low-rpm torque combines with a low-ish 36.8:1 overall first-gear ratio to deliver good climbing capability in steep country, but as track conditions deteriorate the Colorado is limited by a lack of ground clearance. The front-end bottoms out when the suspension is compressed, and ramp-over angle is compromised by the low-slung plastic side steps. Like most utes (they all have long rear overhangs), departure angle isn’t great, so care has to be taken when driving over drainage channels or when exiting gullies.
The Colorado offers class-competitive wheel travel, but once it’s been exceeded on particularly rough tracks the electronic traction control is called into action. Unfortunately, it’s not as effective as the TC on some other 4x4 utes and, without a rear diff lock, as fitted to many of its peers, the Colorado can struggle on gnarly climbs unless its driver carefully chooses a line that avoids big washouts.
On steep descents, engine braking has to be supplemented with judicial use of the brake pedal to maintain a safe speed. Sure, the Colorado has Hill Descent Control, but the target speed is too fast for very steep hills.
The Colorado really needs a rear diff lock to match it with its competitors off road; fortunately there are aftermarket options.
If you get stuck the Colorado Z71 has a couple of tow hooks at the front, but none at the rear, so fitting a towbar would be a good option for those who intend to spend a bit of time off the road.
What safety features does it get?
The Colorado Z71 is packed with safety features and has been awarded a five-star ANCAP rating.
The Z71 features seven airbags, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring system, front and rear park assist, reversing camera, ABS, EBD, roll-over mitigation, traction control, hill start assist, trailer sway control, hill descent control, three rear child seat anchor points and an ISOFIX child seat anchor point. It also scores and alarm, engine immobiliser, remote keyless entry, LED daytime running lights and front fog lights.
So, what do we think of the 2018 Holden Colorado Z71?
For those after a hero 4x4 ute, the Holden Colorado Z71 has certainly got the look, and since its late-2016 update, which introduced a host of chassis and suspension changes, as well as exterior and interior styling tweaks, it now offers the on-road style and performance to match it with the best in class. It’s lacking a little in off-road performance, but that’s nothing that can’t be remedied by the 4x4 aftermarket.
Safety: 5 star ANCAP
Engine: 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power: 147kW at 3600rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 2000-2200rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Drive: part-time four-wheel drive
Dimensions: 5361mm (L); 1874mm (W); 1800mm (H)
Turning Circle: 12.7m
Ground Clearance: 215mm Towing capacity 750/3500kg Payload 1007kg
Spare: Full size
Fuel Tank: 76L
Thirst: 8.7/100km (combined)
Service Intervals: 15,000km/9 months