The Car Connection Chevrolet Trax Overview
- #12 in Small SUVs
The Chevrolet Trax crossover doesn't seem to earn the SUV tag. It's more a tall hatchback or a very short wagon, but one that offers a choice of all-wheel drive for those not content with standard front-wheel drive.
With the Trax, Chevy expanded its utility-vehicle lineup in 2015. It was updated for the 2017 model year with updated looks, a new interior, and better safety gear. A sunroof was made standard on the Trax Premier for the 2018, and Chevy also introduced a new Redline LT trim.
The Trax competes with a growing list of rivals that include the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, and the Mini Countryman, and the Subaru Crosstrek. More distant competitors might include the Fiat 500X and Nissan Juke.
The Trax is a close relative of the Buick Encore. The two share drivetrains, architecture and safety systems, but the Buick has more expressive styling and more standard features to appeal to buyers willing to spend a bit more.
MORE: Read our 2018 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 headlights 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. 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 4-cylinder engine powers the Trax. It makes 148 pound-feet of peak torque at just 1,850 rpm and is hooked up to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel-economy ratings are 25 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined for the front-drive model and 24/30/27 mpg 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 10 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 NHTSA, and earns good scores from the IIHS. 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 7.0-inch touchscreen, 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 added Apple CarPlay 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.