The small SUV market in Australia is growing rapidly every year so I was very intrigued to see how Holden’s new competitor into the market fared in day to day driving, over a two week period I got to try both the entry level LS and range topping LTZ models.
The Trax is built on the same Global GM Gamma platform as the Barina but as you can tell from the pics it doesn’t share much in common with the Barina on the outside. While the Trax is sold under the Opel and Chevrolet banners in other parts of the world Holden it seems has decided to go with the more muscular Chevrolet look albeit with the Holdenised grill and front and I quite it. Although of the two I really prefer the front end look of the LTZ model, the LS model looks slightly understated and a touch boring for me but the addition of the front fog lights and the chrome strip along the bottom edge of the front bar of the LTZ really sets the front end off nicely and breaks up the expense of black plastic on the LS. The high hip line and slightly slopping roof line along with the pumped guards really add to the muscular look at the back the LTZ is set apart from the LS via an alloy strip at the bottom of the bar which really makes the rear stand out more the LS.
Both the LS and LTZ get alloy rims as standard fit although the LS has to make do with 16 inch rims while the LTZ rides on much more attractive 18 inch alloy rims, both models do ride on Continental ContiPremiumContact Tyres.
While the outside of the Trax doesn’t look anything like a Barina the inside is a different story and slipping behind the wheel you can see the resemblances, Both models get a leather bound steering wheel which is rather comfortable to hold and has controls for the cruise control, audio system and voice recognition which means you don’t have to take hands off the wheel. The instrument panel is very similar to the Barina’s except for the fact it is set into the dash. I really like the setup of the instruments there’s a large round tacho on the left and a rectangular LCD screen on the right that contains the digital speedo and other information. LTZ does get a trip computer and a compass the LS model doesn’t which gives you a couple extra features available via the indicator stalk.
The dash is made up of a lot of hard plastic which some people might not like but doesn’t worry me a bit the, the centre of the dash is the domain of the Holden’s premium MyLink Infotainment system which is standard on both models and I cannot say enough good things about this system and how easy it is to use.
Holden Mylink features in the Trax:
- 7” full colour touch screen
- AM/FM radio with RDS display
- Audio and phone streaming via Bluetooth (compatible devices)
- View images, movies while vehicle is parked
- Phone integration
- Phone book support
- Pandora, TuneIn, BringGo navigation and Stitcher apps (compatible with iOS and Android devices, data streams via the phone’s 3G connection)
- USB and auxiliary input
- Voice control via Siri eyes free integration
I am totally in love with the Pandora app which uses your phones internet connection to stream music from the net, essentially it lets you create your own radio stations which only play music based on your selections if a song comes on you like then you give it the thumbs up and it will be played again sometime, however if something comes up you don’t want to hear all you have to do is give it the thumbs down and that song will be banished to the depths of hell and will never be played again on your station. I’ve been using it at home on my computer and on my phone for months and have some impressive playlists set up on my channels. The big bonus is that it doesn’t use much of your data allowance at all I used it quite abit during the two weeks I had the Trax and only used 300mb not bad at all considering I listened to it for hours.
The Trax comes with the BringGo sat nav app embedded into the Mylink which gives you a very low cost Sat Nav option, all you do is buy and install the app from the apple or google play stores install it onto your mobile device and your set, the thing I like the most is that you control the sat nav via the cars touch screen.
The LTZ gets some silver finishes around the centre stack which breaks up the dark grey dash and really looks good combined with the little chrome sourrounded storage spots on each side of the Mylink system. The Trax also has twin glove box arrangement the top one opens up to reveal the USB connection and connections for your iwhatever and has a handy spot for your phone lined with a rubber mat so your phone doesn’t move around. It also means that your phone is out of mind and sight so you won’t be tempted to play with it while your driving which is an extremely dangerous practice. Mind you with the Mylink system you don’t need to touch your phone while driving specially with the voice recognition.
The seats are raised off the floor which gives you a raised commanding view while driving the LS gets jet cloth trim while the LTZ gets jet black Sportec trim the LTZ also gets heated front seats, the seats in both models are comfortable and supportive but I did find the raised seating did make my bad knees a little sore after a few hours of driving but I have to take into account that the Trax doesn’t have the leg room of it’s bigger brother the Captive that I’m use to driving around in.
The back seat is comfortable and there is reasonable leg room you can fit 3 people in the back although the middle person might find it a touch squishy but my two teenages never had an issue. The boot space is quite good and will hold a decent shop the back seats will fold down increase you need extra room to carry something bigger.
Under the bonnet the Trax gets the same 1.8L naturally apsirated 4 cyl that the Holden Cruze gets considering the Trax weights a hundred or so kilos less then the Cruze it gets along rather nicely. Fuel economy was good I averaged 9.2L/100km in bumper to bumper traffic and the fuel economy got better once I got into more free flowing traffic in a mix of urban and freeway driving I averaged a very nice 7.9L/100km which was just shy of Holden’s figures and incidently better then what I averaged in the Barina.
The Holden engineers had big input into the suspension tune for the Trax and have done a great job tuning the suspension to suit local conditions, the Trax handles and rides great. I took it down some winding roads and found it was rather enjoyable I wouldn’t put it in the same league as the SRi Cruze but the Trax made a rewarding drive none the less.
The ride on the LS model was great very comfortable indeed it absorbed the bumps very nicely indeed and on the freeway it rode very smooth indeed, the LTZ was slightly more firmer I would attribute that to the 18 inch wheels and lower profile tyres but still offered a great ride. I got to take the LTZ down a bumoy dirt rode and found it rode the bumps well and never crashed through them or go close to hitting the bump stops.
The Holden engineers derserve a huge pat on the back for the work they have done on the electric power steering it is just superb it’s extremely well weighted, it’s very light and low speed which makes the Trax very easy to whip in and out of parking spots. The weigh increases as the speed does and at highway speeds it has a fantastic feel to it, the whole time I was driving the Trax I was confident it was going to go where ever i pointed it 100% of the time.
Safety levels are high as you would expect, the Trax has received a maximum 5 Star ANCAP rating, and is packed full of safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist, 6 airbags (driver, front passenger, front side and curtain), Break away brake pedal, Three-point seatbelts in all five seating positions, Seatbelts – energy management and pyrotechnic retractor and lower O/B Anchor Pretensioner, A collapsible pedal assembly, ISOFIX at two rear outboard seating positions.
What I really do love though is that even the entry LS model is equip with reserve sensors and rear view camera regular readers of 3 on The Tree would know how big i am on these features.
Ok so there was couple of things I didn’t like the NVH seemed a little loud for me specailly on rough surfaces but not enough to be off putting, the 2nd thing is the brakes while I did find they worked well I think the Trax could benefit from having disc’s all round instead of the front disc and rear drum brake set up it has, I though the brake pedal lacked feel
Really after spending two weeks driving around in both the LS and LTZ models I was certainly not expecting the Trax to impress me as much as it did, I found it had great economy, rode and handled well, had a decent amount of space. combine that with an impressive list of safety features plus the addition of the technology packed Mylink infotainment system I think Holden are on a winner specially when you see how well priced they are. The raised seating gives you a commanding view while driving and the lightness of the steering at low speeds means the Trax is very easy to handle around those tight shopping centre car parks.
If you are in the market for a small SUV then your local Holden dealers should be your first stop for sure, thanks to Holden for the loan of the LS and LTZ Trax for more info on the Trax visit Holden’s website http://www.holden.com,au