2018 Holden Trax LT Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Holden Trax LT Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Updated Trax adds some extra kit, is bigger inside than it looks but its driving dynamics are disappointing.
2018 Holden Trax LT
Price From $23,990+ORC Warranty three-years, 100,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol (95 RON) Power 103kW at 3000rpm Torque 200Nm at 1850rpm Transmission six-speed auto (standard) Drive 2WD Body 4248mm (L); 1766mm (W); 1674mm (H) Clearance 158mm Boot Space 356L Weight 1371kg Fuel Tank 53L Thirst 6.9L-7.0L/100km (claimed combined)
THE CURRENT HOLDEN TRAX was launched here early last year and is one of GM’s global cars. This means, depending on where you live it’ll go by the name of everything from, Buick Encore to Opel Mokka.
What is the Holden Trax?
As mentioned, it’s a GM global vehicle, but it’s not on the same page as, say, the Ford Ranger, which is also a global vehicle. It’s available here in LS, LT and LTZ variants; our test car is the mid-spec LT which was added to the original two-car line-up to add some variety. All variants run a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 103kW at 3000rpm and 200Nm of torque from 1850rpm and are mated to a six-speed automatic.
The Trax fights in the compact SUV segment and our test car is priced at $28,990+ORC which puts it on-par against key rivals, like the Honda HR-V VTi-S ($27,990+ORC) and Hyundai Kona Elite ($28,500+ORC).
With the update, the Trax copped exterior design tweaks including new front and rear bumpers, LED daytime running lights, and on the inside a new dashboard, and sundry other minor tweaks. There’s no doubting the changes have made the Trax more attractive and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is great, and was a USP when this thing was updated early in 2017, it’s now nothing out of the ordinary with most competitors also offering smartphone mirroring.
Key features for the Holden Trax, including the NEW bits added for the update:
Holden Trax LS feature highlights
- NEW 1.4L Turbo Engine (AT)
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- NEW Front and rear disc brakes (AT)
- Cloth interior trim
- 6 speakers audio
- NEW Projection Headlamps with DRLs
- NEW Apple CarPlay / Android Auto phone projection technology
- Rear Park Assist and Rear View Camera
- Cruise control
- Leather steering wheel
Holden Trax LT* feature highlights above LS
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- NEW Interior trim
- NEW Sunroof
- Front fog lamps
- Front seat driver armrest
- NEW Passive Entry and Push Button Start
- Driver’s armrest
- NEW DAB – Digital Radio
*NEW features in comparison to outgoing MY16 LTZ
What’s the interior like?
The updated Trax is light years ahead of the rubbish interior on the old one, but you’d call it conservative and honest, rather than ‘premium’ as Holden refers to it. The materials chosen were clearly for their longevity rather than their touch feel, with a lot of hard plastics around the cabin.
The design of the dashboard is serviceable in that it’s easy to spot the controls you need and reach them easily enough. There’s no native sat-nav via the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit, so the fact that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included is a plus. In our week with the system, it synced easily and quickly, although the screen is slow to respond to inputs with multiple taps at the screen needed to pause a track or podcast. The volume control also seemed a little out of whack, and you would have to turn the knob right up to 30 to hear music streaming from my iPhone; disconnect the phone and return to the radio and the volume would be deafening. Weird.
There’s only single zone climate control and it works fine with the vents well positioned to cool down the front and back of the cabin quickly. However, cranked to its top notch the fan noise is deafening as a gale force wind blows onto you, turn it down, though, and it drops to a breeze, there isn’t a middle ground, if you get my meaning. First world problems.
The front seats initially feel flat and unsupportive but as the journey goes on you realise they’re quite comfortable. That said, you do tend to perch quite upright in the Trax in an almost people-mover esque driving position; this however helps give the impression you’re higher than you are.
Vision right around the Trax from the driver’s seat is good, and there’s enough adjustment on the steering and seat to get comfortable behind the wheel whether you’re short or tall. One of the nice surprises about the Trax was the head room; even with a sunroof fitted I had heaps of headroom, giving the whole cabin a nice airy feel.
Over in the back things are a little tighter for room. I could sit reasonably comfortably behind the driver’s seat which I’d adjusted to suit me, but there wasn’t a lot of room to spare with my knees just sitting off the back of the front seat. You would only get two passengers in the back. I fitted my daughter’s booster seat which fitted easily, although I had to remove the head rest to get the seat to sit properly.
There are no rear air vents in the Trax, but the cabin is only small and the front vents are big and so the car cools down quite quickly. There are USB outlets at the back of the centre console and pouches on the backs of the front seats for storage. There’s room for water bottles in the door bins.
Over in the boot there’s 356 litres of storage space with the back seats in place and the opening its wide and the space reasonably practical, there are sturdy looking tie-down hooks. Drop the back seats, and you must tilt the seat base forwards before folding down the back seats, and you get 785 litres of storage space. The Trax comes standard with a space saver spare beneath the boot floor but you can cost-option a full-size spare.
What’s it like on the road?
The Trax LT runs a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 103kW at 3000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 1850rpm, this is mated to a six-speed automatic. The Trax is only available as a two-wheel drive. The fuel consumption is a claimed combined 6.7L/100km but in my week, I went through two tanks of petrol across 600km of driving. And Holden specifies 95RON or higher for the turbocharged engine and, at 53L, the fuel tank is quite small.
On paper this reads like it should be a nippy little package but that’s unfortunately not the case. The engine feels willing enough but despite all the noise it makes and its fondness to rev, despite all its grunt being made early in the rev range, the transmission feels less like a six-speeder and more like a four-speed automatic of yore. The shift is clumsy and it’ll hunt in corners and on hills.
On hills, with more than one person on board, you need to ring the thing’s neck to keep it churning along with traffic. It gets better if you drop the transmission into Manual mode and change gears via the plus and minus button on the shifter itself, but this feels very odd and the ergonomics are such that taller drivers will feel like they’re having to lean over slightly to change gears…it’s best left in D for Drive and suffering the awkwardness of the transmission when called on to do more than just cruise at a constant speed. Unless it’s being leaned on the engine is pretty quiet and even at highway speed wind noise is only a whisper, which is impressive.
The steering is slow and lacks feel which doesn’t help the ride quality…you don’t tend to notice it from the front, but those in the back were constantly complaining of feeling sick when driving along a road with very few corners at about 80km/h. And it can also be quite hard to hear what passengers in the back seat are saying which is odd for such a small car.
The short wheelbase and tallish stance counts against the car as it rolls through corners. This is exacerbated by the dull steering which sees you wind on more or less lock; you get a slightly jerky cornering stance. Beyond corners, the general ride isn’t too bad.
What about safety?
The Trax gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating but there’s no autonomous emergency braking, something that’s creeping into this car’s competitors. It gets the usual complement of airbags and traction and stability controls as well as a reversing camera with rear parking sensors, projection-style headlights with daytime running lights and front and rear disc brakes on automatic variants; the manual-equipped 1.8L variant still gets rear drum brakes.
Step up to the LTZ and the safety story improves with turn signals on the wing mirrors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, but still no AEB.
So, what do we think?
The Trax LT we tested isn’t exactly cheap at $28k and isn’t at the cutting edge where active safety is concerned, nor is it particularly dynamic to drive. But it’s an attractive little thing with enough room for a family. There are better vehicles for similar money.