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Holden Trax 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
6.5
Holden's plucky little Trax was a bit of a trailblazer (ahem). Not only was it Holden's first compact SUV, it beat most of the manufacturers to the segment by almost 12 months.

Holden's plucky little Trax was a bit of a trailblazer (ahem). Not only was it Holden's first compact SUV, it beat most of the manufacturers to the segment by almost 12 months.

Those manufacturers includes Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai. Volkswagen is still months away. The Trax range had a small refresh for the 2018 model year, following a pretty big facelift in 2017. It isn't exactly an earth-shattering update but it gave the Trax a more Holden look while sorting out some of the issues of the launch car.

Holden Trax 2018: LT
Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$18,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The MY17 styling update is carried forward unchanged into the MY18 model year. The Trax is a global car, built in a few locations, but ours come from South Korea. That means we get the Chevy version of the styling (there is also an Opel, which is known as the Mokka). 

The newer face is much more contemporary than the old one, with finer detailing and a less chunky look. The deeper front bumper means a fairly bluff front end but with the less blocky headlights, doesn't look as heavy. The overall profile hasn't changed, but the rear has also been cleaned up. A black pack would certainly make the car look even tougher, but it's not on the options list. Some customers have found a nudge bar accessory, but that's not on the official Holden list.

  • The facelift the Trax scored late in 2016 vastly improved the look, inside and out. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The facelift the Trax scored late in 2016 vastly improved the look, inside and out. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • GM's engineers took what they had and jacked up the body but seemingly left everything else where it was. (image credit: Peter Anderson) GM's engineers took what they had and jacked up the body but seemingly left everything else where it was. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Inside also receieved some attention, with the old bitsy but individual layout turfed out in favour of a more traditional look. The instrument pack used to live in a motorbike-style pad it shared with the Barina. It was kind of cool but looked really cheap, so the pod made way for standard dials-under-a-hood. It's bit more mature but certainly not as cool. Perhaps as consolation, a number of the materials have improved, the awful glove box door is now more substantial-feeling (and it will still fit the owners manual).

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The Trax's small dimensions don't promise much but there's a decent amount of room inside. Front seat passengers are well accommodated and luxuriate with no less than four cupholders, while the rear passengers score two in the rear armrest.

Those rear passengers will feel the pinch if they're approaching 180cm, with marginal knee room but plenty of headroom. The upright seating position does help taller folks and you can get your feet under the front seats.

Rear passengers will feel the pinch if they're approaching 180cm, with marginal knee room but plenty of headroom. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Rear passengers will feel the pinch if they're approaching 180cm, with marginal knee room but plenty of headroom. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Boot space is a reasonable if not startling 356 litres. Flip up the seat bases, fold the backs forward and you'll see a useful increase in boot dimenions, the volume almost doubling to 785 litres.

LT and LTZ owners also score an underseat storage tray.

  • The Trax has 356 litres of boot space with the rear seats up. (2018 Holden Trax LT model shown) The Trax has 356 litres of boot space with the rear seats up. (2018 Holden Trax LT model shown)
  • With the seats down there is 785-litres of boot space. (2018 Holden Trax LT model shown) With the seats down there is 785-litres of boot space. (2018 Holden Trax LT model shown)

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

How much is a Holden Trax? Where is the Holden Trax built? What features and accessories are available? This review will provide you with a price list, all quoted as RRP, or MSRP as the manufacturers prefer to say.

Its main rival, the Mazda CX-3, has a bewildering number of models whereas the number of Holden Trax models is comparatively skinny, with just three on offer - the LS, LT and LTZ.

Standard on every Trax is Holden's 'MyLink' media system with Apple CarPlay an Android Auto. As a result, you won't see a GPS sat nav in the specs. MyLink powers a six speaker stereo with USB or Bluetooth for smartphone integration and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. A CD player is a thing of the past, so it's missing from Trax.

The new interior is far more integrated, with a traditional binnacle for the instrument pack. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The new interior is far more integrated, with a traditional binnacle for the instrument pack. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The LS manual starts the bidding at $23,990. It rolls on 16-inch alloy wheels, has air-conditioning, reversing camera, remote central locking, rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic headlights, powered heated mirrors, electric windows, cloth trim and a tyre repair kit. Twist your dealer's arm and you might get floor mats thrown in.

The $26,490 LS auto not only picks up a six-speed automatic but also the 1.4-litre turbo engine with the same power but improved torque. You also get four-wheel disc brakes as opposed to the manual's rear drum brakes.

The middle child is the $28,890 LT. Added to the LS specification are 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, leather steering wheel, colour instrument screen, fake leather seats, DAB+ digital radio, driver's middle armrest and a sunroof.

The six-speed auto LT comes with 18-inch alloys. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The six-speed auto LT comes with 18-inch alloys. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The price range is capped with the top of the range LTZ, starting at $30,490. Sharing the turbo engine and automatic transmission with the LT and LS auto, the LTZ's additions include 18-inch alloy wheels, auto wipers, blind spot monitoring and reverse cross traffic alert.

The Trax is available in eight colours. 'Mineral Black', 'Boracay Blue', 'Son of a Gun Grey', 'Burning Hot' (a vivid orange), 'Absolute Red', 'Nitrate' (silver) and 'Abalone White' which all come at a cost of $550. Only 'Summit White' is a freebie.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

If you're looking for a Trax 4WD, AWD or 4x4 you are going to be disappointed - the Trax's specs are plain - it is front-wheel drive only. There is also no diesel option.

The Trax's engine size depends on the specification you choose. The entry-level LS is the lone contender to persist with the 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated engine that launched the Trax four years ago. Developing 103kW/175Nm at 3800rpm. The 1.8 is paired with a six-speed manual transmission.

The LS auto, LT and LTZ all run the 1.4-litre turbo four cylinder paired with a six-speed automatic. The turbo engine develops an identical-to-the-1.8 103kW but brings another 25Nm to the party for a total of 200Nm developed at a more city-friendly 1850rpm.

The Trax LT comes with a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder producing 103kW/200Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The Trax LT comes with a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder producing 103kW/200Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The Trax's weight isn't particularly low, hovering around 1400kg tare, a bit of a heavyweight in the segment.

Towing capacity is rated at 500kg unbraked and 1200kg braked and a towbar is optional.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

According to the official figures, the 1.8 manual will consume 91RON at the rate of 7.1L/100km while emitting 165g/km of CO2.

Step up to the 1.4-litre turbo also means switching to premium unleaded, which it will drink at the rate of 6.7L/100km and emit 155g/km.

Real world fuel economy is somewhat different. We've measure fuel consumption in the 1.4-litre turbo well over 10.0L/100km. The fuel tank size is 53 litres. With that kind of fuel capacity, you'll cover just 500km in normal driving in either the 1.8 or 1.4.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

The view out of the Trax is impressive for such a small car. It feels high even though it isn't - pop the bonnet and you'll notice it's a long reach down to the engine, even the battery is kept low. The driving position is high and commanding but boy, is it awkward. The pedals are very close to the seat and despite a tilt and reach adjustable steering column, the taller you are, the harder it is to get away from a weird man-spreading arrangemnt for your legs.

The limited ground clearance of 158mm - a leftover from its Barina underpinnings - means the Trax isn't much of an off-roader despite its hill descent control inclusion and very camper-like addition of a 230V power supply in the rear seat. The front bumper is a scraper as it extends much lower than you would expect in an SUV, mostly to protect its low-riding underbits.

The sole 1.8 in the range is best avoided. The engine is a buzzing, vocal unit that needs to be worked hard to keep up with traffic. While the power and torque figures are fairly standard for the market segment, the power band is not easy to reach.

The view out of the Trax is impressive for such a small car. The view out of the Trax is impressive for such a small car.

Step up to the LS auto and the change to the 1.4-litre turbo is stark. While there are the same number of kilowatts and torque is up by about 15 percent, it's a far smoother, quieter unit. It will never be a quiet car, it just doesn't have the engineering for that (the Barina platform is cheap and old). The turbo does reduce the din but also exposes the Trax's taste for road and suspension noise.

Overall, the Trax is comfortable and a bit of fun to drive if you don't mind the body roll or you're on a bumpy country road where it all gets a bit lumpy messy. As a city car it's quite a good proposition but long trips will be tiring.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The Trax has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, reversing camera, three top-tether anchorages and brake assist.

The LTZ picks up reverse cross traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring, but there is no option for AEB, unlike the CX-3, C-HR or Kona.

The little Holden scored a five star ANCAP safety rating in August 2013. 

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

In the latter half of 2017, the Trax came with a seven-year/175,000km warranty, a big jump from the usual three-year/100,000km. The standard offer returns on January 1, 2018 unless Holden changes its mind. 

Roadside assist is offered for an initial twelve months and then extended at every service performed at a Holden dealer.

Servicing intervals for the Trax are nine months/15,000km. Lifetime capped price servicing applies, starting at $249 for the first two, jumping to $429 for the third service and then bouncing around between $249 and $399 until the seventh service.

Verdict

It's a close-run thing, but the best of the Trax range is the LS auto. There is little in the way of genuine improvement as you climb the range, with just the LTZ's rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring as genuinely useful. The rest is mostly cosmetic. 

As a contender in the segment, the Trax struggles when it comes to pricing - a Mazda CX-3 of comparable price is better-equipped and better to drive, with just a tighter rear seat to contend with. Other cars in the segment are newer and (generally) better-packaged for similar or little more money.

The Trax is an individual and Australians seem to like them - we're still buying them at a reasonable rate. In a segment that is grabbing yet more sales and is filling with yet more manufacturers, the Trax is the little engine that could.

Is it the Holden badge, individual looks or price that aTrax (I'm so sorry) you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$21,557
Based on 201 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,500
Highest Price
$29,540

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LS 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $19,888 – 19,998 2018 HOLDEN TRAX 2018 LS Pricing and Specs
LS (5YR) 1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,820 – 22,550 2018 HOLDEN TRAX 2018 LS (5YR) Pricing and Specs
LT 1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,990 – 25,990 2018 HOLDEN TRAX 2018 LT Pricing and Specs
LT (5YR) 1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,487 – 21,990 2018 HOLDEN TRAX 2018 LT (5YR) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.5
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features6
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption7
Driving6
Safety6
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$14,480

Lowest price, based on 127 car listings in the last 6 months

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