- Roomy, versatile interior
- Actually seats four adults
- Excellent safety ratings
- Reasonable prices
- AWD offered in every trim level
- Bland exterior styling
- Acceleration not particularly peppy
- Steel wheels on LS a throwback
The 2017 Chevrolet Trax may lack power and style, but it's a smart package for city dwellers thanks to a useful hatchback shape, thrifty fuel economy, and a low price.
The 2017 Chevy Trax is the brand's smallest crossover vehicle, a near-twin to the Encore from Buick, and a distant relative of the Chevy Sonic.
A tall-riding hatchback with optional all-wheel drive and seats for as many as five passengers, the Trax gets a refresh in 2017, with newly updated styling, a tweaked interior, and new safety technology.
We give it a rating of 5.6, with credit for good fuel economy and technology for its size, recognizing its styling and performance aren't necessarily its focus. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Trax shares only its front doors with the Encore, and its styling is far less expressive. Chevy's designers have chosen to play it safe, but we think the slightly squarer lines of the Trax work better than the Buick's swoops and flourishes. 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 taillights 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.
Performance and utility
The Trax’s engineering is unchanged for 2017, and it is much like that of many typical small cars and car-like crossovers, with a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion-beam rear setup with a tubular V-shaped beam and twin-tube gas shocks. Column-mounted, electric-boost power steering provides maneuverability and responsiveness, and ride and handling are typical for the class: controlled and comfortable but not sporty.
All U.S. Trax models come powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 making 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque—with peak torque from just 1,850 rpm on up. It’s paired to a 6-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. Unfortunately, the little four struggles to get up to highway speeds and requires plenty of space when passing.
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. While the look is more traditional and certainly improved, there are still plenty of hard plastics, and the overall effect is still utilitarian, practical, and low-end.
This small crossover—or tall hatchback, more appropriately—fits four adults, or five in emergencies if the three in back are quite small. The rear seat is split 60/40 and folds 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 to accommodate long items, too.
Safety and features
It took a while to get to the U.S. as Chevrolet worked to improve the crash structure. That paid off because the Trax scores well in crash tests. The list of standard safety features is impressive as well. A rearview camera system is standard, as are electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, and an astonishing 10 airbags. Both the driver and front passenger get knee bags, the front and rear outboard positions get side thorax airbags, and side curtain bags cover those in the front and rear outboard positions. For 2017, Chevrolet also offers blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning. The forward collision alert system could be enough to earn the 2017 Trax a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS, but we'll have to wait for those results.
The 2017 Chevrolet Trax is offered in LS, LT, and Premier trim levels; Premier replaces LTZ. Standard equipment isn't available yet, but the 2016 LS model starts around $21,000 and comes standard with 1990s-style 16-inch steel wheels and silver plastic wheel covers, while LTs get 16-inch alloy wheels and LTZ models have 18-inch alloys. However, the 2016 LS has a healthy list of standard features, including air conditioning; keyless entry; power windows, locks, and mirrors; 4G LTE connectivity with a built-in wi-fi hotspot; Onstar capability; and the MyLink entertainment system.
MyLink comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM satellite radio services, a USB port, an aux jack, and Bluetooth phone and streaming music connectivity. It is compatible with Siri Eyes Free connectivity for iPhones, 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, MyLink also adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Fuel economy ratings are 28 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive version, according to the EPA, dropping to 27 mpg if you add all-wheel drive.