Tuesday , October 17 2017

Tech Showdown: Holden’s Colorado Z71 vs Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak

If I was to sit down and compare two cars, you’d probably be wondering er… why? Just about anyone can compare cars, and reading about such a comparison on Ausdroid is probably like going to an Apple blog for balanced coverage of things that aren’t Apple. However, I’m not sure that’s quite the case (at least insofar as Ausdroid is concerned).

If you’re looking for a new car, you probably do what most people do. You pick a few that you like, go visit a few dealers, maybe test-drive a couple for a few minutes, then make a fairly significant financial decision based on what … a couple of minutes behind the wheel, and if you’re lucky, maybe a review or two that you read online.

So, to do something a little fun, we thought we’d compare a couple of cars for you. These aren’t cars that everyone would buy, but we acknowledge that utes are one of the fastest growing categories on the road. Equally, most people compare on things other than technology, but we care more about tech than anything else, so we’ll compare on tech first, and then compare some other motor-y things.

Without further ado, let’s take a light-hearted look at what’s inside Holden’s 2017 Colorado Z71, and Ford’s 2015 Ranger Wildtrak.

Why these two cars? They both showcase some fairly amazing technology.

Why the 2015 Ford against the 2017 Holden? Despite the naming, the two cars aren’t actually that far apart — as little as a few months, depending on the build date.

Comparing the in-car technology

Ford’s 2015 Ranger features the company’s Sync 2 platform, which is the same thing found in most of their 2015 (and even some early 2016) vehicles. Gone are the days when the technology in a car consisted of a radio or maybe even a CD player, and here are the days when the head-unit in your car is probably as capable as your mobile phone, sometimes more so.

Sync 2 features a heap of useful inclusions, including digital radio, navigation, phone integration and climate control.

Holden’s 2016 Colorado features My Link, which doesn’t come with a number. However, in 2016, My Link comes with a range of features, not the least of which are Apple’s Car Play and Android Auto.

Both platforms are capable, even enjoyable to use, but which one comes out ahead when you compare them side by side? Here’s my thoughts:

Talking Point Holden My Link Ford Sync 2 Winner
Digital Radio Digital Radio is included, built right into the platform. You can select from all the available DAB+ stations. Radio fades out rather than cutting out suddenly when signal drops. Finding new stations is rather intuitive. Digital DAB+ Radio is built right in here, too. Unlike Holden, Ford’s digital radio drops out and in without fading, making it a bit harsher. However, finding new stations is a bit easier. In this, and it doesn’t just apply to Digital Radio, I think Holden has the edge. Digital Radio does tend to drop out a bit in fringe coverage areas on both systems, and fading out (rather than a hard drop out) is a bit less jolting.
Navigation Holden’s platform gives you a choice of navigation (or rather, three choices). You can use the built-in maps, Android Auto can provide Google Maps, or you can use Apple’s Car Play to get Apple Maps. The built-in navigation is very capable in its own right, but doesn’t have any traffic integration.

A favourite feature was the ability to turn the right-hand menu knob to easily zoom in/out on the maps. I found this extremely useful.

Apple and Android maps work exactly the same as in every other car.

Sync 2 doesn’t feature Android Auto or Apple Car Play, so you’re left with Ford’s own maps integration.

That said, it is surprisingly good. I find myself actually preferring it over Holden’s built-in navigation, with my only gripe being you can’t punch in a destination while the vehicle is in motion (and nor can your passenger). You have to pull over.

I’m calling this kind of a draw.

Having Android Auto and Apple Car Play is great, but Ford’s built in navigation is good enough that I wouldn’t bother using the other two. With built-in Suna traffic, Ford’s navigation is almost as capable as a stand-alone GPS, and you can use it without having to have your phone plugged in.

On the other hand, though, Holden’s system lets you punch in directions on the go (assuming that it could be your passenger using it, for example). Ford’s refuses to let you do anything unless the wheels are stationary.

Sync 3, which as Android Auto and Car Play as well, will simply nail this category and could pull Ford ahead.

Phone Integration Holden MyLink integrates with your phone with either Bluetooth alone, or via Android Auto or Apple Car Play if connected by cable. Once paired with Android Auto or Car Play, your phone will also be connected via Bluetooth, which you can use by itself without using the cable if you can’t be bothered to hook it up.

Holden’s voice control integration is fantastic, adjusting the climate control to turn the fans down when you’re trying to issue a voice command, or when you make or take a call.

Sync 2 pairs easily (and very quickly) with your phone over Bluetooth, and with Apple phones at least, can play music from a connected iPhone or iPod.

In fact, Sync 2 is one of the fastest systems I’ve used, in that by the time my butt is in the driver’s chair, my phone is already connected to the system. I haven’t seen a car connect more quickly over Bluetooth than this.

Sync 2 doesn’t do any of the smart integration with your climate control system though, so it’s up to you to turn the fan down to be heard more easily.

Holden wins here, because let’s face it, this is a tech blog and we have to like Android Auto and Car Play.

Don’t we?

Yes, we do. However, if we were to take that out of the equation, we’d have to consider that Ford’s system is every bit the equal of Holden’s.

Except for the climate control integration. That’s really something that you probably subconsciously do yourself by hand, but Holden’s My Link system does it for you.

Climate Control Holden’s My Link system loosely integrates with the climate control system, in that you can see what the climate system is doing on the large touch-screen display, but interaction was somewhat limited.

On the plus side, Holden’s system for climate control was a bit easier to operate while driving, with a heat/cool knob on the right and a fan control on the left. I suppose you’d call it more traditional, though it do dual-zone climate control.

Holden’s added advantage of tweaking the climate control while you take a call or use voice control is rather intelligent.

Ford’s Sync 2 is much more closely integrated with the climate control, which offers dual-zone controls as well. You can set the climate control from the touch-screen interface, or by using the buttons/controls on the dash.

While it had dual-zone controls, it wasn’t as easy to use while driving. You really had to tweak it a bit more when stopped at lights.

This really comes down to personal preference and neither is really better; Ford’s is easier to control from the touch-screen, and Holden’s is great because it has traditional, easy to use controls.

However, Ford probably edges ahead because of the dual-zone system which makes things a bit more comfortable for a fussy passenger.

Holden’s system wins in usability stakes, though, because of its ability to turn the fan down when you’re on a call.

I’ll give it to Holden. Just.

Ease of Use Holden’s My Link system is broadly very easy to use. The main menu of icons runs across the top of the screen in most views, and allows you to readily switch between phone control, navigation, radio/entertainment and Android Auto / Car Play.

It really is rather intuitive, and I didn’t have to open the manual to figure out how to do anything.

The voice control system, outside of Android Auto, is about standard for what you’d find in voice control in other cars. It isn’t great, but it works well enough.

Ford’s Sync 2 is quite intuitive, once you work out their motif. The screen is broken into four quadrants, and through each quadrant, you can access a different system. On the top left is the phone, top right is navigation, bottom left is entertainment/radio/CD/etc, and bottom right is climate control.

When a sub-system is running, you can easily jump to one of the other three systems by tapping in the respective corner on the coloured bars.

This makes jumping between systems quite easy, and again, I didn’t find myself needing any manual to figure out how it works.

Voice control is about the same as Holden’s. It’s present, it works, but it isn’t marvellous.

I’m going to say that I find Ford’s Sync 2 system just a bit more user friendly than Holden’s.

Yes, the way it works is initially a little jarring, but once you figure it out, I believe it’s probably a superior system. It’s much quicker to do some things.

Probably the only part of Ford’s system that isn’t great is the navigation interface for entering addresses … it’s just not quite as intuitive as Holden’s.

As you can see, across these measures, Holden actually edges out the Ford in more categories, but I’m not entirely sure I’d say the Holden is the better car. Equally, I’m not entirely convinced that the comparison is a hundred percent fair, as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is a bit of an older vehicle (not by much, but enough that it may matter).

Comparing other aspects

There are other key measures, unrelated to technology, where I find myself feeling that — if given the choice between both cars to have as my own — I’d probably go with the Ranger. Some of those reasons include:

  • The Ford has a slightly smoother engine, and while it’s not quite as torquey as the Colorado (470nm vs 500nm when both are automatic), it certainly feels to be every bit as powerful, and the delivery of that power is smoother. The Colorado liked to surge, the Ranger laid it on a little more gently.
  • In terms of comfort, I found the Ranger seats nicer to sit in for longer periods, and much nicer to get into and out of. The Colorado in Z71 styling has leather seats with a join up the middle which was rather uncomfortable to slide over.
  • The rear seats in the Ranger were perhaps a touch more comfortable, and I found it much easier to install child seats in the Ranger; the Colorado required pulling two releases to get the rear seat to fold forward and expose the tether hooks. The Ranger required just one. Far easier when doing it by yourself.
  • Ford’s instrument panel (i.e. what’s behind the steering wheel) puts the speedo front and centre, with two digital displays one on either side. These are configurable to show a HEAP of different things, and I find this more useful than what Holden’s instrument panel offers.

Truth be told, if I was offered either car, I’d gladly take it. If I was offered both, I’d have to say I’m with the “blue circle mob” this time.

Bravo, Ford.

 

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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1 Comment on "Tech Showdown: Holden’s Colorado Z71 vs Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak"

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cjdacka
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cjdacka

I’m a Holden bloke (as you can tell by my profile picture) but I would have to agree with you. Also wait till Ford Sync 3 comes out, it will be really nice. GM MyLink is just inconsistent across all their models. The Barina and Cruze had one version, Astra and Insignia had another with the Commodore now running the oldest of the bunch without them even touching it when the VF Series II came out, with everyone expecting them to add Android Auto and CarPlay support.

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