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Head to Head: Mitsubishi ASX vs Holden Trax

Here we are in the cheap(er) compact SUV seats with the seemingly evergreen Mitsubishi ASX Vs Holden Trax.

2017 Holden Trax

Price From $23,990+ORC Warranty seven years, 175,000 kilometres (until December 31) Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol; 1.4 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol (95 RON) Power/Torque 103kW at 6300rpm/175Nm at 3800rpm; 103kW at 3000rpm/200Nm at 1850rpm Transmission five-speed manual; 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 (combined)

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2017 Mitsubishi ASX

Pricing From $25,000+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited kilometres Safety five star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol; 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel Power/Torque 110kW at 6000rpm/197Nm at 4200rpm; 110kW at 3500rpm/360Nm from 1500rpm Transmission CVT, six-speed automatic or manual Drive 2WD; AWD Dimensions 4355mm (L); 1810mm (W); 1640mm (H) Clearance 180mm Boot Space 393 litres Fuel Tank 60L Thirst From 5.3-6.4L/100km (combined)

What are we testing?

The ASX and Trax are two bargain basement compact SUVs. There are several ASXes to choose from, the LS, LS ADAS and XLS. The number rises when you factor in the choice of front-wheel drive and AWD variants. The LS ADAS is really just an LS with a safety upgrade package. We’re looking at the entry-level LS auto, which kicks off at $27,000 for the MY18 update. Pushed along by a 2.0-litre engine, spec highlights include 18-inch alloys, seven airbags, reversing camera, cloth interior, cruise control, climate control and a space-saver spare.

Mitsubishi ASX

The Trax is one of GM’s global cars and has a few different names all over the world and even has slightly different styling. In the US it wears a Chevrolet Trax or Buick Encore nameplate and in Europe is called the Mokka, wearing either Opel or Vauxhall badges. 

2017 Holden Trax

Available since 2013, the Trax this year had a facelift to see it through to the end of its life. Also made of up three variants (LS, LT and LTZ, all front-wheel drive only), the smaller Holden Trax LS starts at $23,990 for the manual and $26,490 for the auto, the car we’re pitting against the ASX. Along with a fresh face, the awful 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated engine was turfed in favour of a 1.4-litre turbo. The LS rolls on 16-inch alloys, has six airbags, reversing camera, cruise control, air-conditioning and proper smartphone integration.

What’s the interior like?

Neither of these cars are award-winners when it comes to fit and finish but both are solid enough.

2017 Holden Trax

The updated Trax dash is light years ahead of the old one which was lifted from what we here call the Barina. It was fun, but the novelty quickly wore off, so this newer, more sensible looking dash is much better. Some of the hard plastics have softened and the cloth trim seems pretty hardy, probably better than the vinyl of the LTZ. The Trax is home to a few weird features, one of them being the number of cupholders – a slightly odd six. There are four circular units with an additional square pair.

The ASX also had a recent going over to make it look more like the rest of the ageing Mitsubishi range (the ASX itself is getting on). The interior is much-improved on the last ASX I drove and it’s now better-equipped. The media system is fairly old-school but includes DAB+ and Apple CarPlay. There’s also plenty of storage in the ASX’s markedly larger cabin with cupholders (four in total), bottle holders and pockets and slots. There’s what is technically a fifth cupholder but Mitsubishi has thoughtfully marked it as not capable of performing as one. My guess is that it’s a vestigial ashtray arrangement.

2017 Holden Trax

The Trax has Holden’s MyLink media system which is streets ahead of the fairly old-school unit in the ASX. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Trax also has two more speakers than the ASX and there is – bizarrely – a 230V power point in the back seat for devices that burn up to 140W, like a laptop.

The Trax wins on points for the better tech but is basically line-ball when you consider materials and build quality.

What’s the passenger space like?

The ASX takes an easy win here. Everyone will have a better time when cooped up in the Mitsubishi. There’s more room front and rear – I can sit behind my driving position with room to spare, at just under 180cm – and the driving position is way better than Trax. The front seats are also especially comfortable. 

The Trax’s front seats aren’t quite as good and when you factor in the awkward driving position caused by the pedals being too close, they verge on uncomfortable on long drives. The rear seats are nowhere near as roomy but both feature lofty headroom and a good view out for all passengers. The Trax will take moderately lanky teenagers but the ASX’s rear bench is more comfortable for them and there’s just more room everywhere in the Mitsubishi.

Both are fine for getting kids in and out of child seats, although the bigger door aperture of the ASX will certainly play well with parents of rugrats.

What’s the boot space like?

Another easy win for the ASX. The Trax has a good size boot, easily accessible and swallowing 356 litres with the seats up and 785L with them down. But the ASX is up by almost 40 litres to 393L with the seats up and when you fold them down, you crack on to 1193 litres across an almost flat floor.  Both are 60/40 split folds.

The Trax floor is also flat, but you  have to tip the seat squabs up before dropping the seatbacks, which robs space. The Holden scores for having that power outlet.

2017 Holden Trax

Neither have any electric trickery for the tailgate, so if you’re hands are full, you’re out of luck.

The ASX and Trax both feature a space-saver spare wheel but you can option a full-sizer in the Holden.

What are they like to drive?

Here the pair diverge markedly. Holden wisely flung the buzzy 1.8-litre of the manual, replacing it with the rather more versatile 1.4-litre. It doesn’t exactly transform the car, but driving the front wheels through a six-speed transmission, delivers 103kW, 200Nm and reasonable pace.

2017 Holden Trax

We’ve already covered the awkward driving position, so if you have managed to get yourself comfortable, the Trax isn’t at all bad fun. Get up some momentum and you can bounce around on its short wheelbase with not too much bodyroll or understeer (unless you’re being a little too ambitious). The ride is lumpy though and while it’s quieter than the 1.8, there’s still a fair amount of noise from the road, the wind and the engine.

The Trax claims a combined cycle average of 6.7L/100km but you’ll likely find it drinking closer to 10L/100km, and it’s the good stuff, too, the turbo engine insisting on 95RON.

The ASX is also fairly noisy and is lazy to go with it. The naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre drones out 110kW and 197Nm, driving the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). I am happily on record as saying I don’t like CVTs and I don’t like this one either, but you may not notice. 

It’s quite rubber-bandy, noisy (although the engine noise may overcome the gearbox’s whine) and a fair amount of tyre noise fills the cabin on all but the glassiest of surfaces. It is not terrible by any stretch – few cars are these days – but it does ride better than Trax and is a tidy if uninspiring handler. The steering gets a special mention for completely isolating you from reality, so much so it’s like being Donald Trump.

The ASX isn’t the fussy drinker that the turbo Trax is, with a combined cycle average of 7.6L/100km on the sticker while real-world figures are closer to 10L/100km. The ASX wins here. Neither are especially bad but nor are they particularly good.

What are the safety features like?

Both carry five-star safety ratings with airbags aplenty, ABS, stability and traction controls and reversing camera. The ASX has one extra airbag for the driver’s knees, though. Another victory for the ASX.

So, which one wins and why?

The ASX is a clear winner here. While it costs a couple of extra bucks, you get a lot more space, more comfort and a more pleasant experience all over. Both of these cars are fairly honest and workmanlike and both sell well for their respect makers. But in a world of Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Hyundai’s upcoming Kona, life is getting harder for these two.


Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson