Traxy the orange Holden Trax wins more friends as a likeable little runabout - but is it good enough to take on the newcomers in the segment?
A shade over a month in the family and ‘Traxy’, our orange Holden Trax LTZ long-termer, is fitting in just fine.
Buyers often cite ease of use and practicality as reasons for choosing a compact SUV, and the Trax has shown us just how true this is.
Working in a mixed role of office runabout and location support vehicle, the plucky little Holden has ticked all the boxes we need from a car like this.
Around town, the Holden Trax is zippy enough to handle our daily cross-city rushes. From meetings to shoots to more meetings and back again, its 103kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine is an improvement over the old 103kW/175Nm naturally aspirated 1.8-litre motor.
It’s punchier down low (where you really need it in an urban vehicle) and our average fuel economy is sharper at 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres (down from 9.8L/100km when we had the non-turbo through the garage last year).
The noise the Trax makes isn’t exactly inspiring, however. That typical four-cylinder rasp makes the Trax sound strained and over-worked when under load.
At cruising speeds, though, the Holden Trax is surprisingly quiet, registering just under 65dB at 80km/h on the freeway. For reference, we've recorded about 70dB in a Mazda CX-3 on the same stretch of road.
Dealing with the urban landscape, the Trax handles roundabouts and cobbled cross streets with ease. The ride isn’t particularly plush but it isn’t crashy either, and the steering is light and direct enough. With a 10.9-metre turning circle, it’s not super nimble (a Kia Sportage is bigger and has a 10.6m turning circle).
We have used the 60/40 split-fold rear seats a number of times and find the two-stage process of flipping up the seat cushions before folding the backrests a bit of a pain. Worth noting too is that the front seats need to be far enough forward (not an option if Paul ‘Business Class’ Maric has been in the car) or the rear headrests won’t fit when the seats are folded.
Also on the rear seats, the seatbelts and buckles can get stuck behind or under the cushions if you don’t physically hold them out of the way when resetting the car. Not a big deal, but something that has been addressed by way of clever placement in some other cars.
Something has fallen through a gap back there too, so we are treated to the occasional rattle of a mystery item (likely an AA battery) rolling around.
The coolest feature of Traxy, particularly as a location support car, has been the 240-volt power outlet between the front seats. It has come in very handy for charging camera batteries while in the field. We’re yet to test if it can run the coffee machine…
Storage is good: the triple gloveboxes are handy, as is the bucket under the passenger seat. There is always somewhere to throw a phone, coffee cup or camera lens thanks to the four centre cupholders and door pockets.
Christian from the CarAdvice video team in Sydney spent some time with the Trax when he made a trip to Melbourne with some friends. They managed to squeeze four people plus two tents, four sleeping bags, backpacks, food and bedding into the compact SUV.
“We never felt tight or squashed,” said Christian, “but four people is enough – putting three people across the back might create some tension.”
The basic functions of the MyLink infotainment system worked well, but Christian found the lack of navigation a bit frustrating, as was the requirement for a phone to be connected to USB in order to use the advanced music streaming functions.
For his circa-600km round trip, Christian found the Holden Trax comfortable and generally easy to live with. Pretty much echoing the thoughts of the rest of the Melbourne team.
Which leads us to how the Trax fits in with the newer players in the small SUV segment.
We’ll look at a more detailed comparison with the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Renault Captur in our next update, though with Traxy sharing some garage time with these newcomers recently, it's apparent the little Holden is dating. Fast.
The interior design is positively old-fashioned compared with the Honda HR-V, and even with the bright orange paint, the once-funky Trax is a bit dull next to the Mazda and Renault.
It’s a nice little car, and a likeable runabout, but the game has moved faster than the Trax has, which explains the recent deals (saving about 10 per cent off list price) and Trax Active special edition.
The little guy does a good job and is certainly working well in the multi-faceted role we require.
For the next update, we’ll compare some of the Holden Trax’s features with some other compact SUVs due through the garage, and put the hill descent control to the test.
At the time of writing, we’ve also just tipped over 11,000km and the Trax is suggesting an oil change. This will be done via our local Holden dealer, and we'll provide full detail on this service in our next report.
ODO now – 11,340km
Distance travelled - 2,262km
Av. fuel consumption - 8.7 L/100km
Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser and Christian Barbeitos