2021 Chevrolet Trax

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2021
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2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
September 28, 2020

Buying tip

The 2021 Chevy Trax is best at the affordable end of its already low price range, and we recommend keeping with the base LS model.

features & specs

AWD 4-Door LS
AWD 4-Door LT
FWD 4-Door LS
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MSRP
$22,020
MSRP
$23,820
MSRP
$21,400

If you need a spacious new vehicle for the tiniest of parking spaces (and budgets), the Trax is an acceptable but mediocre contender.

What kind of car is the 2021 Chevy Trax? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Trax is a small five-door hatchback with available all-wheel drive. Its rivals include the Nissan Kicks, Honda HR-V, and Buick Encore.

Is the 2021 Chevy Trax a good car?

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The 2021 Chevrolet Trax is short on thrills, design flair, and standout features, but it offers an affordable price and an interior that’s more spacious than you might expect, given the subcompact-car parking footprint.

Overall, we rate the 2021 Trax at just 4.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The price of the Trax is in its favor, but there’s truly little else that might make this model a favorite over anything else in its class. While we can see how it might check all the boxes for someone at around its base price, we’d still recommend shopping the competition. 

What’s new for the 2021 Chevy Trax?

This year Chevrolet has discontinued the Premier trim level of the Trax, leaving the 2021 Chevy Trax LS and LT. That removes things like a power moonroof and Bose premium audio from the lineup—although the LT covers most of the comfort items you might seek in an affordable vehicle.

Front seats aren’t particularly comfortable, but the view out is good for city driving. In back, the Trax is too tight for most adults or even child seats, and the seatbacks might be best flipped forward and used as a cargo space. 

In all versions, a 1.4-liter turbo-4 pairs with a 6-speed automatic and offers reasonably perky performance around town. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional, as part of a system that’s aimed primarily at snowy driveways. 

The Trax excels at urban driving, but its short wheelbase and lack of sophistication make it not well suited for curvy roads or even high-speed Interstates. On the highway the Trax isn’t as pleasant, and the cabin becomes noisier and the performance less endearing. 

In any case, fuel efficiency isn’t great. All-wheel-drive versions earn just 26 mpg combined.

Some of the key safety features that we now expect even in affordable vehicles are missing here, and if GM were to include it the Trax would be a much more appealing vehicle. There’s now no forward-collision warnings or automatic emergency braking to be had. 

How much does the 2021 Chevy Trax cost?

It has a base price of about $22,000.

Where is the 2021 Chevy Trax made?

In South Korea and in Mexico.

4

2021 Chevrolet Trax

Styling

The 2021 Chevrolet Trax looks dowdy and cheap—to those who might actually notice.

The 2021 Chevrolet Trax merely does the job, with a good amount of space in a small package, at a cheap price. And nothing about the Trac’s styling goes above and beyond that reason for existence. 

Although we see the plain interior to be about par for the class, the exterior has fallen hopelessly behind, and for that it’s a 4 out of 10. 

Is the Chevy Trax a good-looking car?

Short answer: no. We don’t think it is pleasant-looking in its proportions, and a mix-and-match philosophy to its design details sure doesn’t help. While other tall hatchbacks or crossovers about the Trax’s size have become better proportioned, the Trax continues as an awkward mess, fitted with a set of design details that do little to mask that they’re a hodgepodge of pieces from other vehicles in GM’s current and past portfolio. 

It starts with the profile of a neatly styled subcompact hatchback of ten years ago, but it’s led astray with a few extra inches of body cladding at the bottom of the doors, to push the design upward, mated with a hood and grille that look intended for a larger vehicle, and fitted with wheels that don’t seem to match the intended proportions—especially, in its more basic Trax LS form, the 16-inch steel wheels and hubcaps that are a throwback to the wrong era. 

The interior is rather plain and by no means cheerful, but functional and free of obvious design demerits. There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment sitting above a quartet of buttons and simple climate controls. Upgraded upholstery and matte silver trim are part of how the LT attempts to justify its higher price.

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2021 Chevrolet Trax

Performance

It’s hard to find a vehicle that’s as uninspiring to drive as the 2021 Chevrolet Trax.

The 2021 Chevrolet Trax is nimble enough around town, but tepid acceleration, uninspiring handling, and lows of body lean might make you question why you’re not just letting others do the driving for you.

The Trax got demerits for both the weak engine performance and the sluggish transmission behavior, but didn’t downgrade it for the handling as that’s par for the course in this class. That amounts to a 3 out of 10.

Is the Chevy Trax 4WD?

All-wheel drive costs about $1,500 extra in the Trax, and it’s an “on demand” system that sends power to the rear wheels when the front wheels start to slip or spin. 

How fast is the Chevrolet Trax?

Don’t let the presence of a turbocharged engine lead you to believe there’s scorching performance here. The 1.4-liter turbo-4 is rated at 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque—decent numbers, until you find out that the Trax is as heavy as a mid-size sedan, at more than 3,300 pounds with all-wheel drive. That leads to 0-60 mph times—if it matters—of around 10 seconds for all-wheel-drive versions.

The combination gets progressively more out of breath at higher speeds, and some fault rests on the sluggish 6-speed automatic transmission and its long, slurred upshifts and reluctant downshifts.  

Light steering helps lead you to believe that the Trax is quick and nimble around town; but that feeling transitions to something more nervous on the highway. On curvy back roads you’ll notice copious amounts of lean, and ride quality can be on the pitchy side. Note that front-wheel-drive models come with drum brakes at the rear wheels—something you might have thought went out of use in the 1990s.

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2021 Chevrolet Trax

Comfort & Quality

Head room and cargo space are quite good, but road noise can be an issue.

The 2021 Chevy Trax doesn’t surprise and delight with much inside, but as the outside packaging suggests, there’s plenty of head room to go around. 

Leg room is another story entirely. Taller drivers will almost completely eliminate leg room in order to drive safely, and front and rear occupants will need to do some negotiation. With just 167.7 inches bumper to bumper, the Trax parks easily but will feel tight—even for fitting things like child seats. 

All considered, we rate it at just 3 out of 10, dialing back two points for its limited passenger comfort—even versus other models in its class. On the cargo front, the Trax is impressive. With everything in place for backseat passengers, the Trax has room for almost 19 cubic feet of cargo. That grows to 48.4 cubes with the rear seat folded.

Perhaps you’ll opt to keep the rear seat folded down. 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 head room but limited leg room. Three abreast? Maybe call a taxi.

Front seats in the Trax are firmer than most will expect them to be, and the cloth upholstery on Trax LS crossovers is disappointing. 

A manual four-way driver’s seat is standard, with a six-way power seat optional. The 2021 Trax has firm front seats, but only the driver’s seat features a fold-down center armrest. The trims used throughout the LT model feel somewhat nicer, with a combination cloth and synthetic leather. The synthetic leather upholstery, formerly part of the now-discontinued Trax Premier, is now offered as a Premium Seat Package that might—depending on your tastes—feel like a step up.

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2021 Chevrolet Trax

Safety

The 2021 Chevrolet Trax lacks some advanced safety features, although it has performed reasonably well in crash tests.

Especially considering that the 2021 Chevrolet Trax is one of the oldest designs in Chevy’s current lineup, it has performed quite well in federal and insurance-funded crash tests; but in safety gear it’s a step behind nearly all of its rivals. 

The greatest deficiency is the lack of automatic emergency braking. The Nissan Kicks and Mazda CX-3 can apply the brakes on their own to avoid a collision; that’s still not the case here. 

We rate it at 5 out of 10, adding a point for its strong federal five-star rating but removing one for the Trax’s lack of automatic emergency braking. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

How safe is the 2021 Chevrolet Trax?

The Trax also earned respectable scores from the IIHS. It rated the Trax “Good” in all the main categories of testing except for the passenger-side small-overlap test.

Forward-collision warnings were included on the former top-level Trax Premier, which has now been discontinued. In a move we’ve seen before from GM, it’s thinned down the model line this year without making what was a safety-feature exclusive for the Premier standard on the rest of the lineup.

Standard safety gear in the Trax includes 10 airbags, including head-curtain bags for all rows and knee airbags for both of the front occupants. On all trims, all-wheel drive costs $1,500 and includes four-wheel disc brakes. Yes, those front-wheel-drive models have rear drum brakes. 

The only safety-related option in the Trax for 2021 is a $495 Driver Confidence Package, adding rear parking sensors, a cross-traffic warning system, and blind-spot monitors.

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4

2021 Chevrolet Trax

Features

The 2021 Chevrolet Trax checks the boxes for many of the basic comfort items shoppers will want, but there’s nothing to wow here.

The 2021 Chevy Trax is a hard sell in terms of features, because while it’s a new vehicle, covered by a new-car warranty, it doesn’t offer a whole lot of features that will surprise and delight—even compared to other new cars starting around its $22,000 base price, or to a five- or even ten-year-old used car that was a little more upscale. 

For its limitations in standard and optional equipment, we subtracted a point, leaving the 2021 Trax at 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Which Chevy Trax should I buy?

If you’re seriously considering the Trax, it makes the most sense at the most affordable end of its price range. That said, the Trax LS is a mixed bag on what you get for your money. Its 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system handles Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it comes with the expected suite of power features. Comfort items in the Trax seem in short supply, though, and the four-way driver’s seat two-way adjustment for the passenger’s seat strike us as a cue from basic economy cars.

Alloy wheels, cruise control, remote start, a cargo shelf, and a 120V AC power outlet are among the features added when you step up to the LT model. The range-topping Trax Premier is gone for 2021, and with that the Premier’s power moonroof, lane-departure warnings, forward-collision warnings, and Bose premium audio are no longer offered on the lineup.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Chevrolet Trax?

The Trax ranges up to about $27,000 this year, with the loss of the Premier model from the range. But as your price reaches those upper ranges, there are many more comfortable, better-equipped, better-performing choices.

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5

2021 Chevrolet Trax

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage ratings are neither disappointing nor particularly impressive in the 2021 Trax.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Trax good on gas?

Ratings range from 24 mpg city, 29 highway, 26 combined if you opt for all-wheel drive to 26 mpg city, 31 highway, 28 combined if you keep to front-wheel drive. 

That places the Trax at 5 out of 10 in our ratings.

Review continues below
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$21,400
MSRP based on FWD 4-Door LS
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4.2
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 4
Performance 3
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 5
Features 4
Fuel Economy 5
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2021 Chevrolet Trax Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Trax just released; 2020s still widely available
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