2020 Holden Trax Range Review

The Holden Trax is a good-looking small SUV that does a lot with your smartphone, handles sweetly, and goes hard – thanks to turbo-petrol power. Every Trax has a reversing camera.

2017 Holden Trax LTZ
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Steering and handling
  •   Turbo engine
  •   Smartphone integration
Not so much
  •   Relatively thirsty

What stands out?

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.

The demise of Holden means you may be able to secure huge discounts on remaining models including the Trax. For more details, read: Holden slashes prices as final fire sales begin.

What might bug me?

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.

And of course, how Holden's demise could have an impact on resale values. The good news is there should be no negative impact on your rights as an owner when it comes to parts, servicing, warranties and recalls.

For more details about how Holden's closure will impact Acadia ownership, see the 'Is it safe to buy a new or used Trax with Holden shutting down?' section below.

What body styles are there?

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?

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.

Heated exterior mirrors, and 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 five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

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

The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, found in every Trax with a six-speed auto gearbox, is now the only engine available in a Trax since the 1.8-litre manual was deleted from the range.

The 1.4 litre consumes 6.7 litres/100km in the official test (city and country combined).

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.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

The least costly Trax, the LS, has cloth seats, and 16-inch wheels

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?

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 $580. Only two of the eight available colours, Summit White and Absolute Red, are not prestige colours and attract no extra charge.

How comfortable is the Holden Trax?

Ride comfort in small SUVs ranges from cushy – the Citroen C3 Aircross, 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?

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. The lack of autonomous emergency braking means it would be unlikely to receive five stars if tested today.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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

How is life in the rear seats?

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?

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?

The Holden Trax is manufactured in Korea.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

An all-wheel drive option, which is available with the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona, 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.

Autonomous emergency braking, which is available in the Citroen C3, CX-3, Kona, Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Seltos, 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.

Other similar small SUVs rivals you may want to consider include the Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, MG ZS, and Peugeot 2008.

Is it safe to buy a new or used Trax with Holden shutting down?

If you can get a good deal on a Trax as part of the Holden fire sale, there is good reason to feel confident that parts will be available and that servicing and the warranty will be covered.

Australian consumer law requires that a brand supports its products for at least seven years, while General Motors – the parent company of Holden who are behind the closure – have stated that it will extend warranty and service support for 10 years. The company says it will establish a national after sales network to support existing customers for at least the next 10 years. And remember, you don’t have to service your Trax at a Holden dealership to guarantee warranty coverage.

For more details, read: What does Holden's axing mean for its customers

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

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 . 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.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Steering and handling
  •   Turbo engine
  •   Smartphone integration
Not so much
  •   Relatively thirsty


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