- Roomy, versatile interior
- Actually seats four adults
- Excellent safety ratings
- Reasonable prices start at $21K
- AWD offered in every trim level
- Bland exterior styling
- Acceleration not particularly peppy
- Steel wheels on LS a throwback
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax offers a useful hatchback shape in a smart package that's more practical than it is stylish.
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax, along with several other new and smaller SUVs, is jumping into the red-hot utility vehicle market. With a lower entry price, the Trax offers most of the amenities of its larger sibling, the compact crossover Equinox. Expanding Chevy's lineup of small cars—from Spark minicar through Cruze compact sedan—the Trax gives the brand its least-expensive all-wheel drive entry.
Based on underpinnings shared with the Buick Encore, the Trax is derived from the subcompact Sonic and shares its engine and transmission. then it adds optional all-wheel drive, which isn't available on the Sonic hatchback or sedan. And while it's been on sale in Mexico and Canada for a couple of years, the 2015 Trax entering the U.S. market gets several new features plus a structural upgrade to handle tougher new crash-safety tests. With added sound insulation, the U.S. Trax may be one of the more quieter small utilities on the road, and conceivably more refined than simpler Trax versions sold in more than 60 other countries.
You could consider the 2015 Trax a tall five-door hatchback, or a classic two-box utility vehicle in miniature. It's about 169 inches long, with a 101-inch wheelbase and 61-inch-wide track, which gives it the footprint of a subcompact by today’s standards. It is, at 66 inches tall, quite a bit higher than a typical subcompact hatch. An arched-back roofline and nicely sculpted flanks do their best to keep it from feeling too slab-sided, fronted by a taller, stubbier version of the current Chevrolet corporate grille that blends into a high hood line. Rubber-look lower-body components to offer a hint of ruggedness—although, of course, the Trax isn’t meant for the trail.
Inside, the Trax gets an instrument panel look that has a lot in common with the Sonic's motorcycle-influenced layout, including a sweeping tachometer, a digital speedo, and otherwise, a simple, sporty, upright look to the dash and trim.
All U.S. Trax models come powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque—with peak torque from just 1,850 rpm on up. It’s paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with a wide range of gear ratios, allowing relatively quick takeoffs but a deep overdrive sixth gear for relaxed, fuel-efficient highway cruising. Fuel economy ratings are 29 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive version, dropping to 27 mpg if you add all-wheel drive.
The Trax’s underpinnings are much like those of many typical small cars and carlike crossovers, with a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion-beam rear setup with tubular V-shaped beam and twin-tube gas shocks. Column-mounted electric-boost power steering provides maneuverability and responsiveness, and all models will include four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated in front).
This small crossover—or tall hatchback, more appropriately—fits four adults, or five in emergencies if the three in back are quite small. Rear seats are split 60/40 and fold forward flat, while there’s storage in all four doors as well as various cubbies. Cargo space expands from 18.7 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up, to 48.4 cubic feet with them folded forward. The front passenger seat can fold flat for long items, too.
A rearview camera system is standard, as well as an electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation, electronic brake force distribution, and Brake Assist. And the Trax offers an astonishing 10 standard airbags. Both the driver and front passenger get standard knee bags; front and rear outboard positions get side thorax airbags; and side curtain bags cover those in front and rear outboard positions.
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax starts at $21,000 for a base front-wheel-drive LS model. There are three trim levels--LS, LT, and LTZ--with keyless entry included across the model line. LS models come with 1990s-style 16-inch steel wheels and silver plastic wheel covers, while LT models get 16-inch alloy wheels and top LTZ models get 18-inch alloys.
The LT model will likely be the top seller, and it adds roof rails, heated power adjustable mirrors, and a handful of other features. Buyers can mix and match features that appeal most to them within the LT model designation; the list is long. The top-of-the-line LTZ includes standard feature like heated leatherette seats, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and a Bose seven-speaker sound system. A sunroof is optional.
The Trax offers next-generation OnStar telematics services and MyLink connectivity, including an available 7-inch color touch-screen system with additional USB ports, SiriusXM satellite radio services. That system is compatible with expanded Siri Eyes Free connectivity for iPhone models, and with the BringGo navigation app, which essentially 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.