Driving Holden’s Colorado Z71 Xtreme Through Australia’s Extremes

When you think of debuts, you usually picture stadiums full of cheering fans or stages with lights and pyrotechnics. But for the introduction of Holden’s special edition Colorado, they thought it would be a good idea to release it in one of the most remote places on the planet: Coober Pedy. Usually associated with opals found and souls bound, Coober Pedy also happens to have a unique and harsh landscape.

A combination of sand and siltstone scatter the desert with thousands of ant-like mounds and it’s no surprise that scenes from the original Mad Max series were shot here. Exploring such baron and unforgiving terrain is less about speed and more about survival. You need a car that’s equipped to the teeth and if you’re feeling slightly compassionate, prepared to help fellow travellers.

Holden thinks they have a candidate: The Colorado Z71 Xtreme.


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holden colorado z71 climbing hill

Usually the external modifications on a special edition vehicle are few and far between. A special paint job here… some extra fairings there… but Holden knew if they were going to give the Colorado such an ambitious title, it had to deliver the goods. On the front of the Xtreme you’ll notice a fully integrated winch, LED light bar, bonnet bulge and front suspension kit.

All are very impressive when parked out the front of the pub, but more importantly, functionally relevant in unknown terrain.

Oh yeah, back to the mods… Vehicle Recovery Kit, Towing Package, Roof Tray, Rear Steel Step, Fender Flares, Black Tubular Side Steps, Black Grille, Soft Tonneau cover, Bonnet Bulge, 18” Goodyear All Terrain Tyres, Black extended sports bar… if there was ever an accessory list that yelled ‘let’s go exploring! ‘, it would be this.

What you end up with is a vehicle that looks like it’s had a makeover from “Frontier Eye for the Beer Guy”… basically, a Bear Grylls survival kit.

holden colorado z71 on the road

With that in mind, the friendly folks at Holden thought we should load up the trucks and go give the Xtreme a baptism by fiery terrain. From the tarmac roads of Coober Pedy, to the dirt tracks of the painted desert, cruising at highway speeds in the Xtreme was surprisingly pleasant.

The integrated winch adds a few extra kilograms, but the Holden engineers have beefed up the front suspension to allow for a more pliable ride. Torque is still delivered by that faithful 2.8L turbo diesel Duramax engine found in the Colorado Z71 and its more than capable of towing a prospecting drill or two (that’s 500Nm in city speak).

holden colorado z71 front side

But what good is all that torque if you can’t use it effectively? Thankfully the Xtreme has a “switch on the fly” four-wheel drive system which, as the name suggests, allows you to go from “highway friendly” 2WD to “are you sure we should be driving here?” 4WD, at the turn of a dial.

Driving through an abandoned opal mine was not on my bucket list, however after resurfacing from the experience alive, I can recommend adding it to yours. Steep declines, even steeper inclines, beautiful rock formations: it was picturesque four-wheel driving meets meditation retreat.

You could probably attempt this exploration in a bunch of different four wheel drives, but few would give you the self-assurance of the Xtreme.

holden colorado z71 top view

Once we re-surfaced and I recovered from a mild dose of Cave Cough (the Zoolander equivalent of the black lung), we were invited to come and give the winch a crack. Truth be told, my winch history is a combination of pulling out tree stumps and watching fail compilations on YouTube. But when I found out that Holden had called on winch royalty, “Warn”, to make the block and tackle, I knew I was in safe hands.

Bonnets were popped, safeties were checked, and we managed to winch our damsel in distress out of her dusty prison. Even if your damsel is well fed, the Warn Magnum 10s is capable of pulling up to 4536kg via its 30 metres of safely synthetic fibre. Out of all the pragmatic accessories on the Xtreme, I found the Warn winch the most impressive. Not just for its functionality, but the fact that its factory engineered with a factory warranty to back it up.

If you’ve come to the Holden Colorado Z71 Xtreme looking for a luxury cabin or a desert racer, you’ll go home disappointed. This isn’t that kind of truck and it was never intended to be. This is an Australian designed and engineered, accessory showcasing, exploration machine. It takes a no nonsense approach to the outback and it has the best tool belt in its class.

Even if you think the Xtreme might be overkill for your needs, the base Colorado shares all the same DNA with its adventurous sibling. It’s no secret that Holden have had a difficult time transitioning from the “Commodore company”, but if it keeps engineering vehicles like the Colorado Z71 Xtreme, its future will be as unique and colourful as our Great Southern Land.

Check it out


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