Holden Trax LS 2013 Review

Holden Trax LS 2013 Review

With people still lapping up SUVs when cars will do the same job often better, Holden has added a baby SUV to its range to pull people away from the Suzuki SX4 and Ford Kuga and get its share of the buying public’s hard-earned sovereigns.

Holden-Trax-LS-2013-rear-quarterThe South Korean-built compact SUV is available in other countries as the Chevrolet Trax or Opel Mokka, and it comes in two two-wheel drive versions, the LS and the LTZ. It’s based on the same platform as the Barina and takes its powertrain from the Cruze. That means you get a car that’s short and highly manoeuvrable that comes with a 103kW, 175Nm, 1.8-litre petrol engine and 6-speed automatic gearbox.

Holden-Trax-LS-2013-side103kW isn’t that much to produce for a 1.8-litre engine but you really have to work it to get decent acceleration and that causes the engine to scream. And, it still doesn’t exactly light up the tyres in a frenzy of acceleration. It’ll cruise happily at highways speeds and drinks 7.6l/100km on the combined cycle – around average for a car this size. You can’t tell this, though, because Holden has omitted a trip computer, which is a suspicious choice.

Holden-Trax-LS-2013-dashboardThe Trax’s MyLink multimedia system would not stay connected to my iPhone 5 via Bluetooth. I picked up a Holden Commodore SS immediately after the Trax and that stays connected all the time. Theoretically you can talk hands-free via Bluetooth and it also supports Siri Eyes Free on an Apple phone (ask Siri to call people, select and play music, hear and compose text messages, read notifications and add reminders). If you plug the iPhone or iPod touch into the USB port then you can also access the onboard apps which include Pandora, Tunein and Stitcher for streaming internet radio. In fact, Holden is so vested in this new way of listening to music that you won’t find a CD slot anywhere!

Holden-Trax-LS-2013-front-interior

The multimedia control centre displays on a 7-inch centrally mounted touchscreen which also displays the reversing camera image. Radio functions are easy to control. The volume buttons are touch-sensitive on the unit itself, and it’s easier to use the steering-wheel-mounted buttons to change the volume. Also mounted on the steering wheel are buttons for the cruise control.

Holden-Trax-LS-2013-glove-boxesThe Trax is a 5-seater with a narrow body. Three adults can fit in the back, but it’d be tight unless they’re all skinny, and there are no rear air vents.

It sits high on the road. This gives excellent forward visibility and, as per all the compact SUVs, some body roll in the corners. However, it does feel very solid on the road. The suspension is tuned to suit our local New Zealand roads, which are mostly bumpy and horrible. It is generally comfortable, but when you get to really uneven roads it fidgets around a bit and becomes bumpy, perhaps partly to do with the short wheelbase. However, it is quite quiet on the road.

It doesn’t feel cramped inside, and the boot is of moderate size at 356 litres. There are handy cubbyholes littered throughout the cabin, but you don’t get the useful hidden drawer under the passenger seat unless you plump for the LTZ. You can fold the rear seats down 60/40 to form a good-sized flat storage area.

The obvious competition is the Suzuki SX4, which it definitely eclipses. The SX4 is considerably cheaper in the base model, though ($25,990). You might also consider a Ford Kuga. The Kuga is a league above, and you’ll pay for it (almost $40,000), as you would with a Hyundai ix35. Perhaps the closest is the Mitsubishi ASX, although the base model is $36,690 and it’s got an anaemic CVT gearbox that whines away. Or you could try a Skoda Yeti which will put you in a rarefied group of owners.

So, the Trax occupies a little price niche of its own. It is a city car with off-road looks. It’s not going to get you out of the swamp, but that will never be asked of it. Given its meaty face but weedy price it’ll sell like hotcakes; in fact, it’ll probably sell like all the cakes combined.

Price: $32,990

Pros

  • Practical
  • Feels solid
  • Aggressive styling

Cons

  • Couldn’t get MyLink to stay connected to my iPhone 5
  • Wooden brake pedal feel
  • Coarse engine under acceleration – a stronger engine would really lift this to be a Kuga competitor

Words and photos:

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