THE facelifted Holden Colorado looks like a ute, carries like a ute and drives like a ute. But don’t call it ute a ute.
Nope, it’s a truck – apparently. Just without the big Mack or Freightliner badge on the nose.
It seems Holden is shying away from using the ute name that was associated with Ford’s 1934 invention that married a passenger car with a large load-carrying tray. It took almost two decades, but in 1951 Holden followed with the first of its utes, creating what is arguably the most iconic Australian car ever.
But it appears the ute is on borrowed time, at least in name.
In a presentation detailing the heavily updated version of a car that’s been underwhelming in recent years Holden went out of its way never to use the “u” word for its Colorado.
“It will be different from the truck you would drive in Brazil or Thailand,” explained the lead engineer on the project, Amelinda Watt.
“We … firmly believe the new Colorado is the most compelling package in the truck segment at the moment,” said product marketing general manager Ben Lasry.
And, it seems, Holden thinks the Colorado is closer to a truck than a car.
“… show everything the car could be … the truck could be, sorry,” said the group manager for accessories, Joe Basile.
“Ford can get away with it, why not us?” said one executive.
And that is a big part of the reason for Holden wanting to create a truck rather than a ute.
The Ford Ranger is the current darling of an increasingly competitive ute market, and a car Holden would desperately love to beat, having been thrashed by it in recent years. And Ford calls the Ranger a truck, in line with its American heritage where utes are known as pick-up trucks.
“We purposely want to call it a truck,” said Lasry. “It’s all about the repositioning [of Colorado] … General Motors has a proud heritage in trucks … we want to leverage it.”
Lasry suggested it was also about separating the Colorado from the Holden Ute, the latter based on the Commodore and due to cease production late in 2017.
“We see a ute really as an Australian body style.
“All our [marketing] material will call it a truck. It tows three-and-a-half tonnes, it goes off-road, it’s rugged and big - a bit more than a ute. At the end of the day it looks a bit like a smaller version of a full-sized truck.
“We really want to get people thinking about Colorado differently.”
So, is the reposition of the Colorado all about leaving the door open for a new-generation Holden Ute – one based on a car – in future?
“No, I don’t think so,” said Lasry. “There’s certainly nothing I know of in that space.”