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Holden Trax LTZ 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
6.5
Holden's Trax was one of the earlier entrants in the mini SUV segment, put together with the bones of an unsuspecting Barina.

Holden's Trax was one of the earlier entrants in the mini SUV segment, put together with the bones of an unsuspecting Barina.

It was boxy and chunky and we rubbed our chins and wondered if a front two-wheel drive Holden SUV would cut the mustard with Australian buyers.

Yeah, well, they have because that's what everyone buys. The Trax is a solid seller for Holden, with both sales and segment share growing in 2016 even with this refreshed machine on the way. With a new nose and a new interior, the updated Trax re-enters a completely different battlefield to the one it arrived on in 2013. Is it enough?

Holden Trax 2017: LTZ
Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$17,999

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

You've got a choice of three models in the MY17 Trax - LS (5 speed manual, $23,990), LT ($26,490-$28,990) and the LTZ we had at $30,490.

That buys you a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four cylinder with 18-inch alloys, a six speaker stereo, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, cruise control, front fog lamps, auto headlights and wipers, power windows and mirrors, real leather steering wheel, fake leather on the seats, and a sunroof.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen packs Holden's latest version of its MyLink media software which means Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The USB has come out of hiding in the glove box and is now proudly in the cabin above a handy tray where you can put your phone. A nice little surprise is the inclusion of DAB+ digital radio.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The new nose really works - the dubious double grille has been refashioned and looks much better. The new headlights are slimmer and lined with daytime running lights, and there is judicious use of chrome and black plastic to give it an unmistakable maw.

The front bumper is still very deep, meaning plenty of scraping noises from the rubber skirt underneath when you're negotiating driveways and intersections with deep gutters.

Not much has happened elsewhere, so the profile and rear view could be an MY13 if you're not paying much attention.

The interior is trimmed with a fake leather that has always been good, but instead of toothpaste blue stitching from the previous versions, it's a more restrained orange (no, really, it is restrained) to go with the much better-looking new dash design.

The old cabin architecture was pretty straightforward but lacking in visual weight and the wacky motorcycle instrument pack got tired pretty quickly. The new layout is more traditional with two small dials crammed into a tight space, with a decent-sized LCD information screen. It should age well and looks quite classy, much more mature than the Barina.

The 7.0-inch screen is in a good spot and in easy reach. It's also easy to use although the previously slick design of MyLink has disappeared, replaced by a less attractive layout. Holden is smart enough to know you'll plug your phone in and largely ignore their software, though, and the USB port has moved to outside the glove box and on to the central stack. Much better.

Apart from the top of the dash, the plastics aren't any better, though, which is a pity but the finish throughout is better than I remember the last Trax I drove (in 2014).

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

The Trax has a surprising six cupholders, four upfront (although two are square) and two in the centre rear armrest. The front door cards have two slim pockets, one large and one phone-sized, although I'm not sure I'd trust my large format iPhone to that slot.

For its compact dimensions, there is a reasonable amount of space inside but there won't be any Olympic swimming pool comparisons.

The boot is 356 litres with the seats up and 785 litres down, some way below most of its rivals apart from the CX-3. The seats fold flat, owing to the seat squabs flipping forward, but you can lose the seatbelt clasps when you put it all back, so you have to flip the seats up again to retrieve them.

Rear seat passengers sit very upright with acceptable knee and headroom but if you want three across the back, they'll have to be small. The tall body means plenty of headroom, even with the LTZ's sunroof. 

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

The 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder spins up a handy 103kW/200Nm to move the Trax's 1390kg (tare). The six-speed automatic delivers power to the front wheels only.

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

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Holden says the Trax will drink premium unleaded at the rate of 6.7L/100km, but the best we could manage was 9.8L/100km, which isn't terrible but it's a fair way off the official figure. I found myself going easy on the throttle to get the figure below the 10.3L/100km it had hovered over. There is no stop-start or other trickery to reduce city consumption.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Trax LTZ has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, reverse cross traffic alert, reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and three child seat anchors.

The Trax scored five ANCAP stars in August 2013, the highest available.

While rear cross traffic alert is a welcome addition, it's not a particularly effective execution. You have to come quite close to getting wiped out before you get the warning, so it seems geared more to the low-speed environment of the shopping centre car park than the speedway pensioners in old Pulsars think our street is.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

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

The Trax comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty and the first year comes with roadside assist.

Servicing is every twelve months or 15,000km and you'll benefit from lifetime capped-price servicing. 

The first few services cost $229 before rising to $289 and then jumping to $581 at the 120,000km mark, which is admittedly a few years away.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

The 1.4-litre turbo is quite a good engine and has been found in bigger cars, successfully so in the Cruze SRi-V (the first version) and even more successfully in the underrated and smaller Barina RS.

It's not quite so much fun in the Trax. With the extra weight and a seemingly tinnier shell, it's not as good an installation as the other two cars, although a lack of effective sound deadening might help explain the extra racket. It's certainly not ghastly like the 1.8-litre naturally aspirated engine in the base model LS (which is reason enough to avoid it) but at least it's still got a bit of go.

As far as the figures go, it's smack-bang where the rest of the segment is.

The six-speed auto is perfectly competent but this engine, in my experience, is better with the Barina RS's six-speed manual that nobody will buy. The ridiculous rocker switch on the side of the shifter to activate manual mode is probably best left alone.

Where it doesn't match most of the cars in the segment is in overall polish and driving quality. The suspension thunks away over just about any bump, and when you're underway there's a fair bit of tyre noise, again, relatively speaking. The ride isn't particularly composed, either, getting a bit lumpy over the bumps and dips.

The most frustrating thing about the Trax is its awkward driving position - the pedals are too close, made worse by the brake pedal being much higher than the accelerator. This is what happens when you jack up a Barina but can't fiddle with the pedal box position.

Having said all of that, the steering is quite good and is overall a better drive than the rapidly-ageing (but higher-selling) Mitsubishi ASX.

Verdict

Things have moved on somewhat in the mini-SUV world and Holden is struggling to keep up. 

The Trax is a good cheap mini SUV but the LTZ is a bit of a head-scratcher. You can have a well-specced Mazda CX-3 sTouring for $1500 less (yes, you'll lose CarPlay, Android Auto and some interior space), a Qashqai or an HR-V (still no smartphone stuff, but lots more space), all of which are better cars all-round. 

The Trax isn't bad, and with the styling updates inside and out, is looking better than ever, but perhaps the LT is a smarter buy - better value, not really missing the important things, and it's quite a bit cheaper.

Does the sleeker-looking Trax do it for you or do the Japanese brand's mini-SUVs have more to offer?

Pricing Guides

$18,880
Based on 291 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$13,998
Highest Price
$24,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LS 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $13,998 – 20,300 2017 HOLDEN TRAX 2017 LS Pricing and Specs
LS Active Pack 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $13,970 – 18,370 2017 HOLDEN TRAX 2017 LS Active Pack Pricing and Specs
LS Black Edition 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $13,750 – 18,040 2017 HOLDEN TRAX 2017 LS Black Edition Pricing and Specs
LT 1.4L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,880 – 20,914 2017 HOLDEN TRAX 2017 LT Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.5
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality6
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption6
Safety7
Ownership7
Driving6
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$17,999

Lowest price, based on 11 car listings in the last 6 months

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