The bowtie brand’s entry in the so-called cute-ute category, the 2017 Chevrolet Trax subcompact crossover SUV comes to market with refreshed interior and exterior designs as well as a host of new tech features. Among the new styling elements are projector headlights and LED taillights set in revised front and rear fascia treatments.
Inside, the dash is reshaped into more of a flowing design in a departure from the angular appearance of the previous version, which was introduced in 2015. A much-needed tech update endows the little runabout’s passenger compartment with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an additional USB port. A rearview camera is now standard across the entire model range too.
Optional features such as keyless entry are now supported, along with a host of contemporary driver aids including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert and lane departure warning. The addition of these safety features, along with a five-star crash test rating from NHTSA and the IIHS’s highest rating (“Good”) marks the 2017 Chevrolet Trax as one of the safest models in its class.
Passenger accommodations are reasonable. Head- and legroom up front are quite generous, though the seats are a bit narrow. A pair of rear seat passengers will find ready comfort, as well as good headroom and reasonable legroom — provided they’re under six feet tall. Cargo capacity is 18.7 cubic feet with the rear seat deployed. This expands to 48.4 cubic feet when you fold the rear seat. The little Chevy requires you to also fold the seat bottoms forward to get a flat load surface.
Looking around, there’s no mistaking the price range the Trax inhabits. The lack of a center console took us by surprise and we’re not really big fans of the hard plastic used to cover most interior surfaces. Soft touch materials are fitted where your body is most likely to come into contact with the interior trim, but its look pretty much says “economy car”.
On the other hand, a seven-inch touchscreen comes standard and interfaces with your smartphone to provide access to your music collection. It also enables the Trax to leverage the navigation function of your phone so you don’t have to buy something you already have in your pocket. However, the system relies upon the Chevrolet MyLink interface, which can sometimes be slow and non-responsive.
Power comes from a 138-horsepower turbocharged inline four with 148 lb-ft of torque. The 1.4-liter powerplant is teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can choose between front and all-wheel drive. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg overall with front-wheel drive and 27 mpg with all-wheel drive. Front-drive models are fitted with disc brakes up front and drum brakes at the rear. If you want the added security of four disc brakes you’ll have to go with all-wheel drive.
Around town, the tidy size of the Trax makes it easy to maneuver in city traffic. Parking is pretty easy too. Handling is reasonably sound and braking is appropriately effective. The short wheelbase contributes to a bit of mild chop on the highway and the steering could be a bit more communicative as well. As a result, the Trax tends to wander just a bit. While we wouldn’t characterize the subcompact crossover as fun to drive, it does hold its own when asked to change directions suddenly and repeatedly.
When it comes to engine response, keep in mind those respectable fuel economy numbers come at the expense of outright power, so don’t expect the Trax to set you hair on fire with its acceleration. Still, output is adequate for nearly every situation, though merging into fast-moving traffic requires a bit of planning, as does passing on two-lane roads. With that said, that’s a common trait of the models in this class, so it really shouldn’t be held against the Chevrolet.
In sum, the Trax provides a lot of good equipment for the money, it’s reasonably spacious given its size and those crash test scores mean you can hand it over to a younger driver with relative confidence. Pricing starts at $21,000.