For the beaten tracks

The Advertiser - Motoring - - USED CAR | HOLDEN TRAX - with Gra­ham Smith

NEW

For most of us, the SUV has re­de­fined mo­tor­ing. Once there were only big tough wag­ons but now we have medium-sized mod­els, com­pacts and, with the Trax and its ilk, we have sub­com­pacts.

Fall­ing within the broad def­i­ni­tion of a SUV, the Trax is re­ally a high-rid­ing hatch aimed at city dwellers, whose in­ter­ests do not lie in ex­plor­ing the bush.

The Trax, based on the Ba­rina hatch plat­form, em­ployed engines from the Cruze. There were two mod­els, the LS en­try-level and the LTZ with all the fruit.

De­spite its com­pact di­men­sions it didn’t feel small in the front seats where there was sur­pris­ing legroom and, thanks to the high stance, plenty of head­room, even for tall peo­ple.

The high stance also meant good all-round vi­sion, which is one of the fea­tures that so ap­pealed to those in city traf­fic where this is so cru­cial to safety. It also meant that it was easy to get in and out for older folks want­ing to down­size.

Room in the rear wasn’t so gen­er­ous but was ac­cept­able for oc­ca­sional use with good head­room mak­ing up for re­stricted leg space.

The story was bet­ter in the boot, par­tic­u­larly with the fold­ing rear seats that pro­vided flex­i­ble load op­tions.

There was also an ar­ray of stor­age op­tions for small bits and pieces, with door pock­ets and some un­der­floor stor­age, and a quar­tet of cup hold­ers.

Grey plas­tics used in­side were hard but were easy to clean for par­ents with messy kids.

Ini­tially, power came from a 1.8-litre four-cylin­der, which was ad­e­quate for the task with­out set­ting the world on fire. In 2014 it was joined by a 1.4-litre turbo four, fit­ted only in the LTZ.

Trans­mis­sion op­tions were a five-speed man­ual or six-speed auto in the LS. The LTZ had only the six-speeder.

On the road the Trax was light and easy to drive. Its small size and tight turn­ing cir­cle meant it was easy to ma­noeu­vre and park.

The ride was fir­mish, par­tic­u­larly for those in the rear, who would have had a bumpy ride over speed humps.

NOW

Trax own­ers are warm in their praise for the car. It does what they ex­pect of it and so far isn’t letting them down.

It’s im­por­tant, how­ever, to un­der­stand its lim­i­ta­tions and don’t buy one if it doesn’t fit your needs. It’s best around town where its size and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity come into their own, mak­ing it a great sec­ond car for the fam­ily — but don’t buy one if you have more than a cou­ple of kids.

Cer­tainly don’t buy one if you have ideas of tour­ing the coun­try and go­ing off-road. It’s a front-drive hatch, not a bush­basher.

Own­ers are happy with the build qual­ity and the re­li­a­bil­ity. They are also happy with the ser­vic­ing costs — with capped price ser­vic­ing you’re up for only $185 per visit, which is ev­ery nine months or 15,000km.

When choos­ing your se­cond­hand Trax make sure it has an up-to-date ser­vice his­tory.

It’s early days yet in the Trax’s life (on av­er­age a 2013 model will have 80,000km100,000km on the clock) but be aware a tim­ing belt change is due at 150,000km.

It’s worth check­ing with a Holden dealer to en­sure re­call works have been done.

OWN­ERS SAY

Noel All­sop My wife wanted a small SUV, some­thing that was nim­ble, easy to drive and park. We chose the 1.8-litre LTZ. It has plenty of power and good fuel econ­omy, the cabin is nice and you can load heaps with the seats folded flat. Ken Petersen I love the Trax’s high seat­ing po­si­tion. It has good all-round vi­sion and is easy to park with the re­vers­ing cam­era. It’s quiet and com­fort­able, the cabin is nice and the per­for­mance is quite good. So far it has been re­li­able. Al­lan Thomas My wife loves her 1.8-litre man­ual LS. It goes well, it’s easy to drive and is com­fort­able. The capped price ser­vic­ing and five-year war­ranty are bonuses. Kathy Ge­orge I bought my LTZ be­cause it was good value for the money and great for a sec­ond fam­ily car. It’s com­fort­able and has been good for us with two kids.

SMITHY SAYS

Small, roomy and re­li­able city car for the com­muter, cou­ples or small fam­ily.

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