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Holden Trax 2019 LS auto: Adventure review

Small or compact four-door SUVs have found favour with those who might usually climb into a hatch but, for whatever reasons, are now looking to a vehicle with the ability, actual or otherwise, of being sporty and even a little bit outdoorsy. The reality is most of these vehicles will spend their time on city and suburban streets, which perfectly suits them, and their owners’ lifestyles.

However, some of these diminutive SUVs are better at their intended purpose – and do it with much more style – than others.

How does the base-spec turbocharged Holden Trax, the LS, hold up in a bustling market segment? To find out, read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Trax is a front-wheel drive small SUV and the LS is the base-spec variant. 

Our tester – a MY19 LS with a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission – has a listed price of $24,490 drive away. The Trax LS is available with a five-speed manual gearbox, but it’s matched to a 1.8-litre non-turbo petrol four-cylinder engine. The turbocharged LS is the way to go, I reckon.

The LS has a stack of standard features for the price, including Holden’s MyLink multimedia system, with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and power socket up front, cruise control, rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, as well as hill-start assist, hill-descent control, and more. No Trax has AEB.

Our test vehicle has 17-inch alloy wheels with a space-saver spare.

The Trax wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The Trax wears 17-inch alloy wheels.

It has an Absolute Red paint exterior; prestige paint colours are available – including Mineral Black, Burning Hot and Abalone White – but they cost an extra $550.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Our test vehicle has the 1.4-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder iTi petrol engine – producing 103kW at 3000rpm and 200Nm at 1850rpm – matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 1.4-litre four-cylinder makes 103kW /200Nm. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder makes 103kW /200Nm.

The turbo gives the Trax a welcome kick in the automotive pants, making the turbo-equipped variant the pick of the bunch.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

It’s a small SUV and it looks sporty and outdoorsy enough in a generic sort of way. A nuggety stance, short-wheelbase and roof rails add to this Trax’s activity-friendly demeanour, without promising too much. Take a look and make up your own mind if it’s your cup of tea; I’m not your life coach so decide for yourself whether it’s cool or plain.

The Trax looks sporty and outdoorsy enough in a generic sort of way. The Trax looks sporty and outdoorsy enough in a generic sort of way.

How practical is the space inside?

Its interior is plain, but practical. The LS has cloth trim and expanses of plastic, which make it a bit ordinary to look at but very easy to live with in the real world because day-to-day life involves liquid spills, crumbs and dirt – lots of dirt.

  • The LS comes with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen and Holden’s MyLink multimedia system. The LS comes with a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen and Holden’s MyLink multimedia system.
  • The LS has cloth trim and expanses of plastic. The LS has cloth trim and expanses of plastic.
  • Its interior is plain, but practical. Its interior is plain, but practical.

Storage spaces include a narrow glovebox, narrow plastic door pockets, four cupholders in centre console (no lidded bin here) plus two in the rear centre armrest, and driver and front passenger seat-back pockets.

The rear cargo area is a 356-litre space with the rear seats in use and the cargo cover in place), or a 785-litre space with the 60/40 rear seats folded into the floor. For this to happen, the rear-seat bases flip forward into a vertical position and the seat-backs fold forward to make the ‘new’ flat floor.

  • With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 356-litres. With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 356-litres.
  • Fold the rear seats down and that number grows to 785-litres. Fold the rear seats down and that number grows to 785-litres.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Driving position is high, steering is quite sharp and handling is tight and controlled, so there’s plenty of welcome driver involvement from the get-go. 

The turbocharged engine makes for a lively and responsive drive and, combined well with the six-speed auto, this 1376kg Trax offers up plenty of zip from stop-starts and oodles of oomph for smooth overtaking.

The turbocharged LS is the way to go, I reckon. The turbocharged LS is the way to go, I reckon.

Ride is very firm, bordering on harsh, with rear-seat passengers* especially feeling the lumps and bumps of irregular road surfaces by way of the tight suspension. (*I believe my children.) 

Interior space is not an issue though as everyone can manage head and shoulders nicely in the tall cabin. The seats are lacking in full support though, making long trips not such an appealing proposition, and in-cabin noise builds early and becomes quite hard on your ears.

What's it like for touring?

The front-wheel drive Trax is not designed or engineered for anything beyond the absolute lightest of light off-roading*, such as well-maintained gravel roads in dry weather. (*We’ve given it a one-tree Adventure Guide rank only because that’s the lowest icon we can give it – we’d go even lower that that as a rating but we don’t have an icon for that.)

The Trax is 1670mm, 4250mm long and 1770mm wide so it is highly manoeuvrable on city and suburban streets, as well as on tight bush tracks though you’d only take it on those at a pinch. 

It has 158mm of ground clearance so enough to get over very minor obstacles.

This Trax has a braked towing capacity of 1200kg and unbraked towing capacity of 500kg.

For the Trax to be considered a real touring prospect it’d need more space, more capability (AWD would be welcome) and there’d have to be a diesel-engined option.

How much fuel does it consume?

This Trax has a claimed fuel consumption of 6.7L/100km (combined). We clocked up more than 300km of highway and back-roads driving, with a smattering of gravel-road driving thrown in. We recorded 10.7L/100km, which is much thirstier than claimed. 

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Trax has a five-star ANCAP rating as a result of testing in August 2013.

The LS has six airbags (including full-length curtain airbags), dusk-sensing headlights, reversing camera, rear-parking sensors, hill-start assist and hill descent control.

No Trax variant has AEB.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Holden Trax looks nice enough and is pleasant enough to live with day to day. Like many others of its ilk, the Trax may be marketed as an SUV but that catch-call moniker, which has come to be accepted to mean that a vehicle is actually sporty and off-road capable, is misleading.

As an adventure vehicle the Trax falls well short – it needs a diesel engine and much improved capability (AWD) and space – but as a lively daily driver for a young starter, or a one-child family, then it’s perfectly adequate.

If you’ve got your heart set on a Trax and you’re patient, perhaps you’ll wait until 2020 when the next-generation Trax is due here.

$26,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.3/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'