2017 Holden Trax Review

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2017 Holden Trax LTZ

Priced From $23,990Information

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

3 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProSteering and handling; turbo engine; smartphone integration.

  2. ConRelatively thirsty.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Holden Trax LS 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Holden Trax is a good-looking small SUV that does a lot with your smartphone, handles sweetly, and goes quite hard – with turbo-petrol power. Every Trax has a reversing camera, and all but one has an auto transmission.

What might bug me?

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The Sportec seat trim in the Trax LTZ: it is vinyl, and less appealing than the cloth found in the less costly Trax LS.

Paying for premium petrol. The turbo engine that drives most Traxes needs 95 RON, which costs more than the regular 91.

Getting to grips with the tyre-repair kit if you get a flat tyre – unless you have ordered the full-sized spare wheel, which is an extra-cost option.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door wagon only.

The Holden Trax drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features does every Holden Trax have?

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The Holden brand’s MyLink infotainment system, with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen interface. It has auxiliary and USB inputs, voice control, Bluetooth connectivity for voice and audio streaming, and six speakers.

Support for smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allows you to display some apps from compatible phones – for example, navigation – on the car’s touchscreen and control them from there.

Cruise control. A leather-wrapped steering wheel with buttons for operating the cruise, the sound system and Bluetooth, and for triggering voice-control mode.

A rear-view camera, and rear parking sensors, which tell you how close objects are to the bumper.

Headlights that switch on automatically when it’s getting dark, and daytime running lights illuminated by very long-lived LEDs.

Roof rails, which make it easier to fit rooftop luggage systems.

Hill-start assist, which helps you start from rest on an uphill slope by controlling the brakes automatically.

A 230-volt socket, for powering household electric appliances.

Wheels made from aluminium alloy, which are lighter and often more attractive than steel wheels with plastic covers, and a tyre inflator kit. (A full-sized steel spare wheel is available as an option at extra cost.)

A hill-descent control system aimed at light off-roading. It operates the brakes automatically to maintain a steady speed down inclines.

Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; and a curtain airbag on each side to protect the heads of front and rear occupants.

Every Holden Trax carries a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, found in every Trax with an auto gearbox, uses the least fuel, at 6.7 litres/100km in the official test (city and country combined).

Since only one Trax has a manual gearbox, most use this engine. It is a strong performer that responds well to your right foot and rarely needs to be worked hard.

In the real world it is relatively thirsty, however, and especially if you do enjoy the acceleration available. A turbo-engined Trax LTZ averaged 11.1 Litres/100km in comparison testing conducted for the May 2015 edition of Wheels magazine, ranking as the most prodigal of five small SUVs reviewed. (An accompanying Mazda CX-3 petrol used 9.3 litres/100km.)

The main reason you might not choose the turbo 1.4 is that you want to pay as little as possible for a Trax. To do so you would choose a Trax LS and specify the manual gearbox, which would mean you got a 1.8-litre non-turbo petrol four cylinder. It uses about as much fuel, but does not feel as lively.

The manual gearbox in the Trax LS is a five-speeder. The auto gearbox in every other Trax is a six-speeder.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Trax, the LS, has cloth seats, 16-inch wheels, the 1.8-litre non-turbo engine, and a five-speed manual gearbox.

Spend more for an LS auto and you get not only the six-speed automatic transmission but the more powerful, 1.4-litre, turbo engine as well. (And for better stopping, disc rear brakes replace the less precise drum brakes that come with the manual Trax.)

Coughing up for a Trax LT wins you a powered sunroof, and smart-key entry – which lets you unlock the car and drive away while leaving the key safe in a pocket or bag. The sound system has a receiver for digital radio. And the wheel diameter grows substantially to 18 inches, with tyres slightly wider and significantly lower in profile – an aesthetic change that also brings more dry-road grip.

The most expensive Trax is the LTZ, and the big change here is the introduction of Sportec artificial leather trim to the cabin, which brings heated front seats. Taillights use very long-lived LEDs. Windscreen wipers switch themselves on if they sense it is raining. And there are two active driving aids, both aimed at keeping you in touch with life behind your taillights: a blind-spot alert warns if you are about to change lanes into a nearby car’s path, and a rear cross-traffic alert does the same if you are about to reverse into traffic.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Around town, you will hear more thumps and bumps in a Trax LT or LTZ, with their 18-inch wheelrims, than in a Trax LS, which has 16s. (The bigger wheels mount lower-profile – read shallower – tyres, which can’t cushion you from the road as effectively.)

The turbo engine in the Trax LTZ must be run on premium fuel (95 RON), rather than the cheaper regular fuel that other Traxes run on.

The ‘Sportec’ seat trim in the Trax LTZ is vinyl, rather than leather, and is less appealing than the cloth trim in the LS.

Prestige paint colours come at an additional cost of about $550. Only two of the seven available colours, Summit White and Absolute Red, are not prestige colours and attract no extra charge.

How comfortable is the Holden Trax?

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Ride comfort in small SUVs ranges from cushy – the Renault Captur, for example – to firm, which is where the Holden Trax sits.

The well-controlled body makes the Trax comfortable in its own way, as well as making the handling more responsive. The taut suspension prevents the Trax from floating around on poorly surfaced roads. You do tend to feel everything that’s going on underneath, however.

While the Trax offers a terrific view of the road ahead from its elevated front seats, those seats have too few dimensions of adjustment (lumbar support, for example) to guarantee ache-free comfort over long distances. You also hear more engine, suspension and wind noise than in the best alternatives.

An exterior facelift about February 2017 brought a more moderate makeover inside, introducing a more pleasant, if also more conservative, dashboard treatment and clearer instruments. New too was an upgraded multimedia system with an improved version of Holden’s MyLink touchscreen operation, better sound, and full integration for Apple and Android smartphones.

The classier dashboard finish and general tidy-up lifted the look and feel of the Trax, but the rest of the interior remained identical to the previous car’s.

What about safety in a Holden Trax?

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Every Trax has a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, dusk-sensing headlights, voice control multimedia, the mandatory stability control, and six airbags.

LED daytime running lights on the Trax LT and LTZ make it easier for other drivers to see you.

The LTZ adds two active safety aids that help you when changing lanes, and when reversing out of car parks and driveways.

The former, which Holden calls Side Blind Zone Alert, in effect extends the range of your external mirrors, showing an image in the mirror when another car is out of view near your rear corner – and flashing the image if you indicate on that side.

The latter, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, looks behind and to either side after you select reverse gear. It sounds a warning if another vehicle is about to cross behind you.

No Trax offers autonomous emergency braking (which could brake the car automatically to prevent your distractedly rear-ending a car in front).

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Trax its maximum five stars for safety, in August 2013.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Provided you choose a Trax with the turbocharged engine, you will. Thus equipped, the Holden Trax is among the most responsive and enjoyable small SUVs you can buy.

Steering is precise, and the Trax is cooperative and entertaining to guide through corners. You sit up high, which in many SUVs exaggerates the feeling of the body rolling. But the Trax, with its firm ride, sits quite flat in turns.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that had powered only the Trax LTZ was extended in February 2017 to two other variants: the Trax LS auto, and the newly introduced Trax LT. The turbo engine offers much more immediate thrust than the 1.8 non-turbo that now powers only the Trax LS manual, responding strongly from when you first press the accelerator. A turbo Trax feels significantly quicker and more pleasant to drive than any Trax with the 1.8.

The six-speed auto gearbox is well calibrated too, combining well with that engine.

The manual is agreeable to shift, though it only has five forward gears. However, the engine that goes with it is neither especially powerful nor very engaging.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The Trax has a shorter wheelbase than most small SUVs – there is less space between the front and rear axles – and so its rear compartment is among the least roomy. Like the front part of the cabin, the back seat area is not luxuriously trimmed. However, rear seat comfort and support are good, as is the view from the back through the front and side windows. Head room is also excellent in the Trax, thanks to the tall body.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Trax is about average among small SUVs for its cargo capacity. It can carry 356 litres behind the rear seats – similar to a Corolla-sized small car – or 785 litres with the 60/40 seatbacks folded into a flat luggage floor.

Where does Holden make the Trax?

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The Holden Trax is manufactured in Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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An all-wheel drive option, which is available with the Mazda CX-3, Subaru XV and Suzuki Vitara, for example. This could be helpful if you want extra security for gravel or snowy roads, or other slippery surfaces.

Automatic emergency braking, which is available in the CX-3, Honda HR-V, and Toyota C-HR, for example.

Perhaps a diesel engine, for lower fuel consumption in country driving and a longer range between refills. The CX-3, Vitara and Nissan Qashqai are available in diesel form, for example.

Maybe more room inside. Among small SUVs, the Honda HR-V has the most space for cargo.

The Renault Captur, Mitsubishi ASX and Jeep Renegade have longer warranty periods than the Trax, at five years.

Are there plans to update the Trax soon?

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The current generation Holden Trax arrived in 2013, with a turbocharged engine for the more expensive Trax LTZ arriving in 2014. A second LTZ model, which had used the less powerful engine as fitted to the Trax LS, was dropped from the range in July 2015.

A facelift of February 2017 extended the turbo engine to the auto-gearbox LS, and added a mid-spec, turbo, LT variant between the LS and the LTZ. The facelift brought a fresh look front and rear, a revised centre console and dashboard, and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring. The LTZ gained two rear-focused driver aids.

A new-generation Trax is not expected before 2019.

I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?

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Sure. Unless you must have the sportier looking 18-inch wheels and a sunroof, the value sweet spot in a Trax is with the Trax LS auto. You get the turbo engine, disc rear brakes, and the great smartphone integration that every Trax has – and a ride around town that is smoother than if you paid more.