The Chevy Trax is a different take on things. Chevrolet advertises it as “the perfect partner for your city adventures”. Is it?
Let’s talk some numbers first, and then we’ll get into the vehicle itself.
The Trax begins at the affordable end of the vehicle spectrum. They start at $18,495 – my LT trim with the optional sunroof comes in at $30,250 – everything in. You can still move up a notch to the completely loaded LTZ trim level.
The Trax looks bigger than it really is. To put it into perspective, it shares its platform with the diminutive Sonic.
It sits high off the ground, and the shape is top-heavy, giving it a bulky appearance. Speaking of appearance, the exterior styling is definitely the most polarizing aspect of the vehicle.
Some people absolutely love it. Some do not. Some hate it. It is an interesting looking thing, to be sure. It looks like the rear end got squished a bit as, visually-speaking, there is very little vehicle behind the rear wheels.
Chevy’s corporate snout can be found in the front, the horizontal trim bar splitting the grille. The rear flanks are pushed out to the sides a bit, so there’s some definition from the rear fenders and back.
I appreciate that Chevy kept the lines clean and relatively simple.
I have seen pictures of the larger wheels that come on the LTZ trim, and they definitely look better than the ones on this LT.
Overall, I didn’t find it an offensive shape, although I wasn’t particularly fond of it either.
If you like the general shape, but prefer different things styling-wise, you could also check out the Buick Encore. It’s built on the same platform, but is definitely upscale. I’ll be reviewing one soon.
Under the Hood
Here you’ll find a tiny 1.4L turbocharged inline-4. It almost looks lost in the engine bay. As in other GM applications, it puts out 138 horsepower at 4900 rpm and the torque comes on at a low 1850 RPM – 148 lb.-ft. of it.
All that terrifying power makes its way through a six-speed automatic and to an on-demand All-Wheel Drive system. Which means the Trax is front-wheel drive until you lose traction. So yeah, definitely more suited for those “city adventures” than the off-road ones.
Fuel economy is quite good. It is rated at 8.7 L/100 km (27 mpg) in the city and 6.5 L/100 km (36 mpg) on the highway. During my week with it, driving through rutted, icy, crappy roads, mostly slow commuting and not paying attention to being economical on the gas pedal, I saw the Trax return 9.8 L/100 km (24 mpg), which is reasonable. The fuel tank holds 53 Liters.
It’s no fly-weight, but it isn’t a porker either – in this trim, the heaviest it can be with automatic and all-wheel drive, it tips the scales at 3,254 pounds.
The first thing I noticed was how roomy and spacious the cabin feels. I found lots of headroom for my 5’10” frame.
Unfortunately, all that space is surrounded by cheap, textured hard plastics. It’s everywhere. The interior styling is kept clean and simple. I think fit and finish is appropriate for this class – it’s certainly not like the Cadillac ATS I just reviewed, but all in all, it was fine.
The seats, fabric (with a nice Tron-like pattern on them) and trimmed in leatherette, are very comfortable. They could benefit from some more bolstering, but they did a good job in the happy butt department. The driver’s side has power fore/aft and lumbar adjustments and tilts manually – they’ve also thrown in an armrest that flips down. The passenger seat is fully manual.
Ahead of you is a nice steering wheel – manually adjustable with an easy-to-drive-with small diameter – it has controls for media, cruise and handsfree/phone functions.
Behind it, in a hooded bin, sits a gauge cluster similar to the Sonic’s “motorcycle inspired” one. There’s an analog tach on left and a big, rectangular digital screen on right. As big as it is, it feels pretty crowded because it permanently displays a digital speedo, the fuel gauge, a compass and your odometer. The top right of the screen houses a driver information area, allowing you to flip between your fuel range, average fuel consumption, elapsed driving time and average speed.
You get automatic headlights, power everything (door locks, mirrors, windows and the tilt/slide sunroof) and GM’s OnStar system.
A bit of a throwback was having to start the Trax with a real key – luckily it does have remote lock/unlocking. Speaking of starting it, a remote starter comes as part of this trim level, which is a very nice touch.
At the top of the stack is the MyLink media system which uses a nice, responsive 7” touchscreen. It lets you access your music – from AM, FM, satellite, streaming Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary sources – as well as video, your phone functions, AND some smartphone apps – such as Stitcher. I found the user interface to be quite simple and clean, making it more effective than some of those that maybe try to do too much. The BOSE system sounds good.
Below the screen sits a three knob manual climate control system and there’s a 12V plug near the bottom.
The center console is home to the gear selector, FOUR different cupholders and a traditional parking brake.
The Trax provides three seats, three seatbelts and two headrests. I found the two outboard seats to be comfortable, but those rear seat cushions felt too short.
The headroom is alright, thanks to a scalloped ceiling panel, and legroom is OK but not great. I was able to sit back there, but anyone taller might be running into some legroom issues.
As we expect in most vehicles, the middle seating position is narrow and hard. The floor is mostly flat – there’s a small driveshaft tunnel on floor but it’s a useable place to sit in an emergency.
For convenience, there is something that every car should have – a 120V household plug on the back of the console. The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with two cupholders. You get two seatback pockets – one fabric, one mesh. There are also highly useable door bins, making it a pretty well thought out rear seating area.
Our three kids fit back there well, and seemed happy. There are two sets of LATCH anchors for kids’ seats.
I am happy to report that the interior storage situation in the Trax is simply fantastic. If you’re a regular reader, you know I care about this stuff. Because I use these spaces in my own vehicles.
You’ll find great door bins, with secondary door bins higher up on door panel. The left underside of dash houses a nice deep tilt-out bin.
Above the center stack, in the middle of the dash, there’s a pop-up lid – under it is a storage bin with a rubberized floor. On either side of that are little open stand-up slots, with a rubberized, recessed base – they didn’t make sense to me at first, but it turns out they’re absolutely perfect to stand your smartphone in.
The right side has a good-sized glove compartment, with a secondary bin above it. Once again, it’s rubberized and it has the auxiliary and USB plugs in it.
And finally, there’s a big open angled bin (rubberized, of course) at the bottom of center stack – great for throwing loose things into.
Oh you wanted some hidden storage too? No problem. How about the under seat storage tray on the passenger side? Or the storage tray under the load floor in the trunk?
Speaking of the trunk, it’s a good size for a small vehicle and has a useable shape. You start with 530 Liters (18.7 cubic feet) and there are a couple of little storage bins (one open, one closed) on the sides.
With the rear seats folded down (they split 60/40 and fold flat), the cargo area opens up to a generous 1371 Liters (48.4 cubic feet). For added flexibility, they’ve thrown in a fold-flat front passenger seat, allowing for long items to be transported.
To fold those rear seats down, the seat cushions have to flip forward first – an irritating extra step.
The tiny powerplant does OK here. I found that, during every day driving, the power is OK. It definitely feels pretty weak off the line and at low RPMS, but boost comes on quickly enough if you need the extra jam, and after 2500 RPM and higher, it picks up the pace noticeably. The drivetrain definitely gets noisy under load, so when you step on it, expect it to get buzzy over 3000 RPM – and you’ll feel that in the cabin. The sounds it makes are quite uninspiring.
The Trax rides pretty firm, but in a sporty way that I found acceptably comfortable. There was no harshness over most road irregularities. The handling is quite competent. Because it’s got some ground clearance, there is some body lean around corners but it never felt tippy or overly top-heavy. With that said, you can throw it into some curves and although it’s not a really fun vehicle to drive, it won’t complain when you TRY to have some fun.
The vehicle sits relatively high above the road and that affords you a good view of what’s ahead. Visibility is decent, except out of the back when the rear headrests are up – they constrict your rear view and your ability to shoulder check.
The brakes are decent, and compliant. Nothing spectacular, but then again, it doesn’t need to be here.
I was very impressed by the low noise levels at highway speeds. Wind and road noise were kept to a minimum, and the Trax stayed very composed and comfortable at higher speeds.
I didn’t have a lot to complain about. I was a tad put out that heated seats are only available in the top LTZ trim, and not even as an option in the lower trim levels. Frankly, heated seats mean way more to me living here on the edge of the Arctic, than a sunroof does.
Unfortunately there’s no 12V plug in the trunk, which is a bit of a downer. We use ours on every road trip, and would miss that feature.
This might sound stupid, but the hood is incredible heavy. I was shocked at how heavy it was, and I think it would catch some people by surprise if it slipped out of their grip.
The Trax comes bearing unique styling, and a lot of utility for the size of the vehicle.
It will fit four adults, and their stuff. It will handle those “city adventures” without a problem, including moving a bunch of goodies if you fold the rear seats flat.
It will work for small families.
So that’s a pretty functional vehicle if you ask me. The styling is not for me, but I didn’t hate it. But it’s tough to argue with what the Trax offers.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was quite high. She enjoyed driving it for a day, where she transported all three kids. She would have preferred a little more space to put a bag, etc, but she agreed that it’s a smart vehicle and it was great on the slippery roads. She also mentioned that the lit vanity mirrors were excellent. Because that matters.
So – tough to argue with everything we see in the Trax. Tough to argue with a reasonable driving machine. I would think this is a smart, honest vehicle to consider.
There is one thing I do take issue with though. And that’s the price. I liked most everything about the Trax when it comes to being a sensible vehicle. But it felt like I should get a little more vehicle, or that it should offer a little more, or do a little more for over 30 grand.
Am I being nitpicky? Maybe. But the competition is pretty fierce here. The Korean offerings are doing some solid interiors, and some very smooth drivetrains, and an insane warranty – all at this price level or less. And heck, at this price, you’re walking into CR-V and RAV4 territory too.
Hey, if this is your kind of ride, and you’ve got even more money to spend on a premium version, check out my review of the very nice up-level Buick Encore.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Don Wheaton Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out more of them under my vehicle reviews tab at the top of my blog.