2019 Chevrolet Trax Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
December 10, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax makes a compelling used car alternative, but rivals do many things better.

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax is a city-sized crossover SUV that makes up for its low thrill demeanor with budget-friendly pricing.

Overall, we rate the 2019 Trax at 4.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It scores for its low price, but that’s about it. The Trax comes up short in terms of refinement, styling, and safety. The Trax makes a decent choice at or close to its $22,000 base price, but we’d shop the competition carefully before signing on the dotted line.

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The 2019 Trax is offered in LS, LT, and Premier trim levels. A 1.4-liter turbo-4 pairs to a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional, but the Trax is not a dirt road champion. Despite its little engine and lithe curb weight, the Trax isn’t as miserly as you might expect. All-wheel-drive versions earn just 30 mpg on the highway according to the EPA.

Pint-size dimensions mean the Trax excels at urban driving, but its short wheelbase and budget suspension make it nervous on a curvy road or a wide-open highway.

The Trax provides a good view out for drivers and more cargo utility than subcompact cars. Its rear seat is a tight fit for adults and its interior is dressed in low-buck plastics. The related Buick Encore is swankier inside and more powerful, but just as cramped.

The Trax would be a more appealing vehicle if it had some of the safety technology now made standard on some of its rivals. Only the Trax Premier gets forward-collision warnings; no Trax crossover gets automatic emergency braking.

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2019 Chevrolet Trax

Styling

The dowdy 2019 Chevrolet Trax doesn’t say much about its driver.

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax has all the style of a pair of Velcro shoes. It’s functional, but it clearly didn’t come from an Italian design house.

We’ve dialed a point back for its exterior and consider its plain interior to be about par for the class. It’s a 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Trax looks particularly downmarket in LS trim. The 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps are a throwback to the wrong era. We don’t mind the unpainted bumpers and lower body trim on all Trax models give them a rugged look (while saving Chevy the cost of paint). What we don’t like are its tall, awkward proportions, especially when viewed from the rear.

Inside, the Trax features a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment sitting above a quartet of buttons and simple climate controls. The Trax LT justifies its higher price with snazzy upholstery and matte silver trim, while the Premier tosses in some contrasting stitching on the dash.

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2019 Chevrolet Trax

Performance

Don’t let its turbocharged engine fool you. The 2019 Chevrolet Trax is no performance machine.

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax is nimble, but its humble roots and tiny engine prevent it from delivering any driving thrills.

We rate it at 3 out of 10, arriving at that number by subtracting a point for its underpowered turbo-4 and another for a 6-speed automatic that delivers lazy shifts. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Under its hood, the Trax features a 1.4-liter turbo-4 rated at 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive costs about $1,500 more. The turbo-4 is sluggish around town, but adequate for driving between stop lights. It’s at suburban and highway speeds where this smallest Chevy feels especially out of breath. Even a relatively wide torque curve doesn’t help. Some fault lies with the Trax’s 6-speed automatic, which delivers slurred upshifts and and can be reluctant to slip down a cog or two.

The Trax’s steering is fast and light, which works well around town but contributes to a nervous feel at higher speeds. Copious lean into corners from the simple torsion-beam rear axle prevents the Trax from feeling remotely fun on a curvy road. Other small crossovers such as the Mazda CX-3 have shown that a humble crossover doesn’t have to feel its price.

Front-wheel-drive Trax crossovers use simple rear drum brakes, but four-wheel disc brakes are included with all-wheel drive.

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2019 Chevrolet Trax

Comfort & Quality

For its size, the 2019 Chevrolet Trax is fairly roomy inside for cargo.

Stretching just 167.7 inches from bumper to bumper, the 2019 Chevrolet Trax doesn’t have size on its side. That’s a boon for city driving, but it translates to a predictably tight-fitting interior. We rate it at 3 out of 10, dialing back two points for its limited passenger-hauling ability. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Trax has firm front seats, but only the driver’s seat features a fold-down center armrest. A four-way manual driver’s seat is standard equipment, although a 6-way power-adjustable seat is optional. The cloth upholstery on Trax LS crossovers feels cheap; the trim used on LTs is nicer. Trax Premiers feature synthetic leather upholstery.

Rear-seat riders have more room than they might expect given the Trax’s tiny dimensions, but they won’t be happy for long. The Trax has good rear-seat headroom but limited legroom. Three abreast? Maybe call a taxi.

With the rear seat upright, the Trax has room for nearly 19 cubic feet of luggage. With the rear seat folded, that grows to a commendable 48.4 cubes.

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2019 Chevrolet Trax

Safety

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax performed well in crash tests but it lacks advanced safety gear.

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax did well enough in government and independent crash tests, but its limited safety gear shows that this design is behind the times.

We rate it at 5 out of 10, awarding it a point for a five-star NHTSA rating but taking that back for the lack of automatic emergency braking. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

That’s a shame since all of the Trax’s direct rivals can be fitted with that gear, and some such as the Nissan Kicks and Mazda CX-3 can apply the brakes on their own to avoid a collision. On the Trax Premier, forward-collision warnings are standard fare—but that’s not enough in our eyes.

To its credit, the 2019 Trax comes with 10 airbags, a rearview camera, and stability control. Those airbags, combined with a solid safety cage, earned it a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. The IIHS rated the Trax “Good” in all instrumented tests except for the small-overlap evaluation that mimics impact with a stationary object such as a telephone pole. So far, that test has only been performed on the driver’s side and the Trax earned “Acceptable.”

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2019 Chevrolet Trax

Features

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax is cheap and its standard equipment list shows it.

For about $22,000, the 2019 Chevrolet Trax nets buyers a 3-year warranty and a new car smell, but not that much else. We subtract a point for its limited standard equipment, bringing it to a 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Trax LS features a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power features, and air conditioning. A four-way driver’s seat and just two-way adjustment for the passenger’s seat strike us as skimpy, especially when competitors include more gear for similar money.

Stepping up to the Trax LT nets alloy wheels, cruise control, remote start, and tinted rear windows. The range-topping Trax Premier throws in synthetic leather seats, heated front seats, Bose speakers, a power moonroof, lane-departure warnings, and forward-collision warnings.

On all trims, all-wheel drive costs $1,500 and includes four-wheel disc brakes.

With every option selected, the 2019 Trax Premier costs about $30,500. That’s about as much as a Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester with leather and all-wheel drive, crossover SUVs that strike us as much better buys.

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2019 Chevrolet Trax

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax is a fairly miserly small crossover SUV.

The 2019 Chevrolet Trax dispels the notion that crossover SUVs use a lot of fuel. Thanks to its small engine and a curb weight of about 3,100 pounds, the Trax rates well for its fuel economy.

On our scale, the 2019 Trax nets 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front-wheel-drive models fare best at 25 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined. Opting for all-wheel drive increases the Trax’s curb weight and adds more complexity to the drivetrain, nudging those figures down to 24/30/27 mpg.

The Trax runs on regular unleaded gasoline.

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$21,300
MSRP based on FWD 4-Door LS
 
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4.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 4
Performance 3
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 5
Features 4
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 Chevrolet Trax Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Trax arriving; 2018s still easy to find
  • Employee Discount on 2018s; $2,250 rebate on 2019s
  • Lease a 2018 from $149 for 39 months
  • $1,000 bonus with GM financing on both model years
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