New & Used Chevrolet Trax: In Depth
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The Chevrolet 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 Trax's corporate sibling, the Buick Encore.
The Trax is similar in size to the brand's Sonic on which it's based, but has a higher ride and, more importantly, offers all-wheel-drive. The subcompact crossover joined the brand's lineup in early 2015 and is essentially a mechanical twin of the Buick Encore. But where the Encore appeals to buyers looking for a bit more refinement, the Trax is more value-oriented.
MORE: read our 2016 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. Inside, the Trax gets a look that has quite a bit in common with the Chevy Sonic hatchback, including a version of the Sonic’s motorcycle-inspired instrument panel (digital speedometer, analog tach). 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 mini crossover. Among these measures are thicker window glass and added sound deadening in the dash.
The Trax occupies the space of a subcompact car, but it's a bit taller to accommodate more cargo and provide better room for passengers. Like the Buick Encore, it provides the higher seating position that makes some folks feel more secure when driving among big trucks and SUVs.
Five seating positions are available, and four adults can fit comfortably in the Trax. The model includes all the hatchback versatility you’d expect. In back, you get 60/40-split folding seats that do 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.
A 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers all U.S.-bound Trax models. 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 24/31 mpg for the all-wheel-drive version. It should be noted that all ratings beat those of an Encore with the same powertrain by one mpg, likely due to the Buick's greater weight. 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.
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. LS, LT, and LTZ trims are offered, all with OnStar telematics services and MyLink connectivity, which includes a 7-inch color touch-screen 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. Chevrolet’s new OnStar 4G LTE embedded vehicle data system is also offered in the Trax, potentially turning the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot when needed.
The Trax receives a top five-star rating from the NHTSA, as well as the IIHS's Top Safety Pick nod.