Not since 1989 to 2004, which was the heyday of the Chevy/GEO/Suzuki “Tracker,” has GM offered a subcompact AWD crossover with a Bowtie designation. But thanks to the popularity of the Buick Encore home and abroad, enthusiasts of small crossover utility have another Chevy to cheer about, namely the 2015 Chevy Trax.
Known as Chevy’s ”city-smart” global SUV and built on the Gamma II Global platform, the new to United States Chevy Trax offers nimble handling, a turbocharged Ecotec 1.4 four cylinder engine enough leg and headroom to comfortably seat a six-foot tall adult in the backseat. It also offers an all-wheel-drive (AWD) option.
Trax is already a big seller in other countries, including China and South Korea, the latter where our tester is built. After a 2012 Paris Auto Show introduction, Trax debuted in 2013 in Canada, Germany, Lebanon United Arab Emirates and Europe. Today, Trax is sold in 66 global markets and is the seventh new vehicle launch from Chevrolet in the last four years.
Similar in dimensions and mechanicals to the aforementioned Buick Encore, consumers can save several thousand if they decide to go with the Chevy model, as both are built on the same platform that also builds Chevy Sonic and Chevy Spark, both past Test Drive features. The underpinnings are MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam setup out back.
Perhaps one of the best mechanical highlights is AWD availability, where for $1,500 added to either the LS, LT or LTZ model, your new Trax will have some “Chevy Tracker” genes added to the mechanicals and you’ll enjoy the added inclement weather safety of traction at all wheels.
Our tester came in AWD dress, and after a week of driving we’re happy to report that this new Chevy could well become a best seller relatively quick, be it 2WD or AWD. Fuel mileage is another selling point, as 2WD owners can expect 26 city and 34 highway while the AWD crowd will live happily I’m sure with a few MPG less, at 24 and 31, respectively.
The Ecotec engine develops 138 horses with power transferred via a six-speed Hydramatic transmission to all four wheels. Thanks to the turbocharger, even 138 horses feels like much more when the turbo kicks in, resulting in 148 lb. ft. of torque. Overall, Trax won’t win any speed contests or impress a Corvette owner, but you will never have to worry about merging on a 65-MPH freeway or passing on a two-lane country road.
Notable cabin features include 15 different storage bins, including a two tier glove box that features a USB connector and auxiliary jack on the upper box. Standard fare includes remote keyless entry and start, MyLink seven-inch color touchscreen with AM/Fm Stereo and SiriusXM Satellite with Bluetooth, all the powers, tilt and telescopic, air conditioning, cruise and much more. Your Chevy dealer awaits your visit to explain all features.
As for safety, a solid Five Star government crash is most noteworthy, as structural integrity and the standard 10 air bag setup no doubt pays huge dividends. Also notable are stability control, four-wheel anti lock disc brakes, 16-inch tires on nice aluminum wheels, rear vision camera, traction control and daytime running lamps, again all standard. On 2WD models, front disc and rear drum brakes are the norm.
Our Trax came with two options, an LT Plus package featuring driver six-way power seat with adjuster, deluxe cloth and leatherette seating, leather wrap steering wheel and rear park assist which helps in parallel situations. A $225 metallic paint option brought the final tally to $25,540 with $875 delivery and a $175 discount on the LT Plus option.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 100.6 inches, 3,208 curb weight, from 18.7 to 48.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, 6.2-inch ground clearance, and a 14-gallon fuel tank.
Chevy Trax is an easy to drive, multi-functional small utility vehicle that serves well as a passenger mover or an off-road, fun weekend companion. It rides nice on the freeway, really is a city dweller vehicle and generates good fuel mileage. It competes with Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, Subaru Crosstrek and Buick Encore, all of them worthy contenders.
In summary, although Chevy Trax may not offer “more in every category” than its competitors, it’s definitely worth a test drive based on price, mechanical platform and safety ratings.
Entry Price: $20,120
Price as Tested: $25,540
Leg and headroom
‘Five Star’ safety rating
Cargo space less than competitors
No center console.