As the dual-cab market attracts more family buyers, the expectation that it will be loaded with more features and provide a more passenger car-like driving experience also increases.More West Wheels:
And in the past six months we have seen the bar raised expediently in this area with the arrival of all-new products from Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen.
Now you can add the Holden Colorado to this new breed of family ute.
Without having the opportunity to drive these vehicles back-to-back, I am certainly not prepared to declare the Colorado the new benchmark but it goes pretty close.
At the national launch in Brisbane earlier this week I had the opportunity to drive a variety of variants in both manual and automatic configuration.
The only model not available to test was the entry-level DX Single Cab chassis with the 2.5-litre Duramax turbodiesel engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
But that model is the only one of the 26 variants with this engine and will account for only a small number of sales.
All other models are powered by the bigger 2.8-litre motor, with the option of the manual or a six-speed auto transmission.
It proved to be a quiet, refined powerplant that produced linear acceleration and plenty of grunt, even when towing a trailer with a 2.5-tonne mini steamroller or climbing steep, muddy tracks.
One of the most impressive aspects of the 2.8-litre engine was the single-digit fuel economy in every component of the test drive, which started in Brisbane, had us climbing Mt Glorious and also included a towing and off-road section.
For the most part the cars were fitted with the six-speed automatic, which did a good job of keeping the engine in the sweet spot - though it did hunt a little when cruise control was locked on 100km/h.
I got to sample the manual gearbox on the off-road leg and while the auto would have been better suited to some of the steep hill climbs, the manual was equally comfortable whether you left it in first or second.
I am not sure if the ride and handling is as good as the Ford Ranger but in the dual-cab pick-up, which will be the biggest seller, the ride was comfortable with little sign of body roll. The ride did get less comfortable, with noticeable pitching when towing.
Wind noise from the windscreen pillars is an issue at cruising speeds and was worse on models fitted with an optional snorkel.
Inside, the cabin was reasonably comfortable with good seat support but hard plastics were a constant reminder of its working- class background.
And it was disappointing to see features like steering-wheel reach adjustment, sat nav and reversing camera not available.
But there was plenty of storage, with four front-seat cupholders, three gloveboxes and a centre console locker.
Back-seat legroom was also class-leading.Holden is expecting big things from the Colorado and, after first impressions, the car maker has every right to be excited.
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