The Holden Trax has filled the space of the light SUV in the showroom, between the Astra and the much larger Captiva.
With an all-new update for 2017, we tested the baby wagon of Holden’s range.
The new Holden Trax comes at a time when, more than ever; drivers are choosing to get in to high riding wagons over most other cars in the showrooms – especially if your budget is in $25,000 to $30,000 bracket.
However, the Trax has somehow missed out on the love of many buyers – not making waves to market leaders, due to a combination of lack of marketing and development that left it looking tired compared to competitors.
Thankfully, though, the 2017 Trax receives a full upgrade to compete on the road with a slew of new boys jockeying for buyers in a booming SUV segment.
From the outside, the new model loses the squat styling of its predecessor, instead plumping for a more modern, ‘swept up’ look with a split grille and rounder edges dominating the design, to make it more distinct from its previous ‘shrunken Captiva’ style.
Inside, the cabin layout gets a sophisticated makeover rather than radical plastic surgery. The myLink-enabled touchscreen is upgraded to feature Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and digital radio, while the climate controls and ventilation is much more integrated into the overall look of the dash – to give a more upmarket feel to the cabin.
Get out on to the road in a new Trax; you’ll immediately feel the benefit of the 1.4L turbo engine. The engine is comfortable and refined at cruising speeds, and easily loosens up around town so that you get smooth power delivery sitting in traffic, or trundling around the suburbs.
Go for a burst down the highway, and the Trax keeps itself pushing forward, with the punchy engine able to give the driver a spirited pop of acceleration to overtake, before settling back in to a stretching cruise.
Previously only available in the range-topping LTZ, the turbo engine has made its way to the masses – however it’s only compatible with the six-speed automatic transmission (optional on the LS, standard on the LT & LTZ.)
The automatic gearbox is obviously well suited to the engine, smoothly shifting through its gears with minimal fuss, without holding on to lower gears to deliver a pretty dynamic drive on the road. At slow speeds, the Trax gets around quickly and quietly – with no lurching forward to accelerate or under-performance when you’re buzzing along suburban streets.
Choose to shift gears for yourself, and you’re stuck with the 1.8L engine from the last model in the entry level LS. While the old engine isn’t a slouch, that won’t enthuse drivers more comfortable with a manual transmission who are limited to one model grade and one engine choice (although, the rising trend of automatic only cars suggest that carmakers know which side their bread is buttered on.)
The new model has updated itself to keep up with competitors, and it is a mostly successful experiment; with the turbo engine lending itself to making the Trax an easy cruiser wagon.
The Trax has much to live up to, with the Captiva above it delivering a benchmark for how versatile a family wagon can be and the relaunched, Euro-designed Astra below it reasserting itself as one of the more premium offerings in the small car segment.
Thankfully, then, the new model has also repackaged itself to stand out against competitors, who have charged onto the scene with sophisticated models that could boast a competitive advantage to the previous Trax, which received scant upgrades during its four year run.
The cabin has been rethought to make the most of the space available, which results in an interior fitout that enhances the Trax to be more adaptable, allowing a broader appeal from its traditional base of urban singles and couples, to young families who might be expanding into their first or second new car.
The Trax has increased its space inside the front of the cabin noticeably – the tidying up of the face of the dash has contributed to that immensely – while the rear seat gets upgrades in the form of increased head and legroom, which is abundantly evident if you’re over 6ft and jump in to the back, there’s less of a jostle with front seat passengers to get comfortable, and not have your knees splayed to the side.
Opt for the sunroof and you might find your hairdo slightly flattened in the back, thanks to the raked back roof – but only if you’re heading to a fancy dress party as Marge Simpson.
Safety systems are all up-to-date in the Trax, with blind spot alert and rear cross traffic alert in the LTZ, while front, side and full curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) and traction control are standard across the board. Convenience items like automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers are also standard, which chalk up some more ticks for the Trax on the shopping list.
The only drawback is that you have to option a spacesaver spare tyre – a tyre inflator kit with repairing is standard. Which is okay if you keep your driving to city streets where you might hit a nail, but you’ll be hard pressed to patch and pump up a wheel that’s just busted itself on a rock on a country road. Best to insist your sales person ticks that box on the option sheet.
The entry model LS starts at $23,990 for the manual 1.8L, rising to $26,490 for the auto with the turbo 1.4L engine. The top-of-the-line LTZ is available for $30,490, with all prices below on-road costs.
All colours except Summit White and Absolute Red are a $550 cost option.
Holden Lifetime Capped Price Servicing covers the Trax for any servicing requirements you may need, to avoid bill shock. Servicing intervals are set every 9 months or 15,000kms, at $229 for the first four (36 months/60,000kms), $289 for the next three (until 63 months/105,000kms) before a major service at 72 months/120,000kms at $581.
All in all, the 2017 is a welcome addition to the baby wagon in the Holden Range. With a sharp redesign both inside and out, the Trax has earned its way back up the shopping list for those shopping for a small SUV.