New & Used Chevrolet Trax: In Depth
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The Chevrolet Trax occupies the space of a subcompact car, but it's a bit taller to accommodate more cargo and provide better room for passengers.
The subcompact crossover joined Chevrolet's lineup in early 2015, and it gets an early midcycle update for the 2017 model year that includes revised styling, an updated interior, and new safety features.
Essentially a mechanical twin of the Buick Encore, the Trax is more value-oriented while the Encore appeals to buyers looking for a bit more refinement. Like the Encore, the Trax provides the higher seating position that makes some folks feel more secure when driving among big trucks and SUVs.
The Trax competes with a growing list of rivals that include the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, and the MINI Countryman.
MORE: Read our 2017 Chevrolet Trax review
The Trax fits right in with the rest of the Chevrolet small-car lineup, with a rather tall hoodline and blunt snout, showcasing the Chevrolet dual-port grille and bowtie design. That tall nose meets a body that otherwise looks like an elevated hatchback, with some body-side sculpting helping to avoid too much of a slab-sided look. Yet faux skid plates and rubberized wheel-well liners hint at a more rugged side that really isn't there.
For 2017, the front fascia, grille, and headlamps take on the look of recent vehicles, such as the Cruze, Volt, and Malibu. The rear fascia is new, too, and LED signature lighting and taillamps are available on higher-end models. However, the base model still has budget-grade black door-mirror pedestals, and it lacks roof rails and some chrome trim. Inside, the instrument panel and dashboard have been redesigned for 2017, trading a motorcycle-style instrument display with digital readouts for a more flowing dashboard design with analog gauges, extra bits of chrome trim, and available dashboard contrast stitching.
Somewhat surprisingly, the U.S.-market Trax benefits from some of the so-called Quiet Tuning that went into making the Encore a bit more refined than your average small crossover SUV. Among these measures are thicker window glass and added sound deadening in the dash.
Five seating positions are available, and four adults can fit comfortably in the Trax. It also has hatchback/crossover versatility. In back, you get 60/40-split folding seats that lay flat, and even the front passenger seat will fold flat to accommodate longer items. Cargo space expands from 18.7 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up, to 48.4 cubic feet with them folded forward, and there are plenty of cubbies for smaller items.
The Trax feels confident but not lively or particularly fun in its handling. Suspension underpinnings are pretty typical for this type of vehicle. A column-mounted electric power steering unit provides maneuverability and responsiveness.
A 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the Trax. It makes 148 pound-feet of peak torque at just 1,850 rpm and is hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel-economy ratings are 26 mpg city, 34 highway for the front-drive model and 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive version. It should be noted that all ratings beat those of an Encore with the same powertrain by 1 mpg, likely due to the Buick's greater weight.
For the U.S. market, the Trax includes ten standard airbags and a rearview camera system, as well as an electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist. For 2017, it is available with blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning.
The Trax has received a top five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and earns good scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The addition of forward collision alert for 2017 should earn it a Top Safety Pick+ rating.
The Trax was originally offered with LS, LT, and LTZ models, but for 2017 the LTZ gives way to the Premier. All models come with OnStar telematics services and MyLink connectivity, which includes a 7-inch color touchscreen system, a USB port, and SiriusXM satellite radio services.
MyLink is compatible with Siri Eyes Free connectivity for iPhone models, and with the BringGo navigation app, which allows smartphone users with the installed app to project maps and directions to the vehicle’s display screen. For 2017, it also compatible with Apply Car Play and Android Auto. Chevrolet’s OnStar 4G LTE embedded vehicle data system is also offered in the Trax, potentially turning the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot when needed.