If you’ve got kids, or have to commute to work around school drop-off time, you know how it can be driving through a school zone clogged by obnoxious soft-roaders. They’re big, they’re impassable and tough to get in and out of tight spots when you’re the one in the driver’s seat, especially in the city. When it came to getting behind the wheel of the Holden Trax LTZ, however, we were pleasantly surprised by its departure from class.
What Is It?
A big soft-roader from Holden which comes in two specifications.
- Engine: 1.8L 4-cyl (LS) / 1.4L 4-cyl turbo (LTZ)
- Gearbox: Manual or Auto (LS) / Auto (LTZ)
- Entertainment System: MyLink 7-inch Touchscreen
- Bluetooth: Yes (Phone & media streaming)
- Fuel consumption: 7.0L/100km (combined, LS) / 7.6L/100km (combined, LTZ)
- Safety: 5-Star ANCAP Rating
There’s the entry-level Trax LS with its 1.8L 4-cylinder petrol engine, five-speed manual transmission, electronic stability control program and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The LTZ model which we tested adds the option of a 1.4L turbo engine, additional leather trim around the interior, chrome accents on the exterior, heated front seats, front fog lamps, trip computer and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Trax LTZ is also an automatic-only (with “Active Select” gear switching) model as opposed to the LS with its optional auto gearbox.
Entertainment-wise, both the LS and LTZ models pack in the 7-inch MyLink infotainment system, featuring Bluetooth for your phone and audio streaming, a 3.5mm Auxilary input, USB input with iPod connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls.
The Trax LS starts at $27,726, while the LTZ upgrade we tested will run you $32,361.
Honestly, I got into the Trax expecting it to be unimpressive. I expected a gutless tank that felt like it rolled around the city streets with a turning circle that would make the QEII look nimble. Boy, was I wrong.
The Trax is just about the zippiest soft-roader we’ve tested around the city. It handles like it’s a much smaller vehicle, getting in and out of tight streets and tighter parking spaces like a dream.
Despite the small car feel in the wheel, it’s insanely spacious on the inside with a sizable back seat and massive boot. You’re also up much higher than you expect to be when you jump in, meaning visibility around the vehicle is also fatastic. On top of all that, it’s wickedly comfortable. The LTZ’s soft, heated leather seats were a welcome respite from Sydney’s ongoing rain-pocalypse.
Holden’s MyLink system is still fantastic and wonderfully simple to use. It’s a touchscreen system, meaning that you’re not left fiddling with hard keys underneath it to get stuff done. Just click, tap and scroll your way through an easy-to-read and easy-to-use system that lets you do a whole myriad of functions.
Streaming your Bluetooth audio is a cinch, and integrating either your iOS or Android phone is a breeze, with MyLink managing contacts for you and providing an on-screen dialpad for you to make calls in the car. The sound system is also bangin’ considering it’s a bit of a mumsy car.
Plus, if you’re a user of apps like Pandora or Stitcher, you get great integration into your vehicle that lets you manage everything from the big, bright 7-inch touchscreen.
The Trax also handles better than other cars in its class like the Nissan Juke, Ford EcoSport of Ford Kuga, and a five-star ANCAP safety rating gives you peace of mind on the road.
That safety rating means you get an electronic stability control system, ABS, a system that mitigates slides with electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and airbags freaking everywhere.
To make driving around town easier, you get a hill start assistant which grabs the car on its hold point on a rise so you don’t roll back for a good while when you lift your foot off the brake when in gear. It means take-offs are smooth and simple. There’s also a Descent Control System is baked in to give you a modicum of off-road confidence.
Trax purchases from Holden dealerships also get you access to capped price servicing. The capped-price for log book services could go for a longer period (right now it’s only for the first four log-book services), but it still offers peace of mind at $185 per service.
It seems a waste of a big, beautiful touchscreen not to have satellite navigation. I know you can pair your phone with it and use it as a linked option, but it requires a lot of fiddling.
Just on the apps, there needs to be more of them on the MyLink platform. Spotify and Rdio are two notable absentees that a lot of Aussies use on their smartphones. Pandora Radio is great to have, but you have to cater to everyone with your apps, otherwise you become the Windows Phone of car-baesd app platforms.
While Descent Control and Hill Start Assist are both great, this is still a car I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking off-road. Especially given that it’s a front-wheel drive only car with a laggy automatic gearbox.
Plus, that giant front bumper (which actually looks quite handsome) means that you’re going to collect just about every rock and shrub in your way if you decide to go where the road stops simply due to the minimal road clearance.
If you want off-road prowess in a similar shape and spec, look upwards in the Holden range at the Captiva 7 LT. You’ll get a larger car with a more seats and a bigger engine and an all-wheel drive system -- great for off-roading at roughly $8000 more.
If you just want a bigger car to get about in the ‘burbs with, however, none of that will matter to you: the Trax is great.
Should You Buy It?
If you want a safe car with a commanding road presence that doesn’t feel like you’re rolling a Panzer down the street, the Holden Trax is something you should pay serious attention to.
Honestly, for the money you spend, I wouldn’t go with the LTZ model. you can get everything that makes this car great on the $27,000 LS model and save yourself $6000. You get the fully-capble MyLink system, reversing camera for safety and parking assistance, more saftey features than you can shake your keys at and a reasonably efficient 1.8L petrol engine.
Either way, the Trax is a great car that families and singles alike should take a look at when considering a larger, more sensible vehicle.