Chevy Trax: On-Track, City Smart

By Sue Mead, January 3rd, 2015

Chevrolet jumps into the urban compact SUV market with the all-new 2015 Trax. The city-smart Trax is one of seven new small-sized vehicles introduced by Chevy over the past four years, more than tripling the manufacturer's offerings in the small-, compact- and mini-car segments.

The five-passenger 2015 Trax is available in three trims; the LS starts at $20,995; LT, $22,445; and LTZ, $25,030.

All are powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine and available in front- and all-wheel-drive versions (a $1,500 upcharge), with an EPA-rated top fuel economy of 26 city/ 34 highway mpg). All models boast a best-in-class 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Among its competitors are the Kia Soul, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and the Nissan Juke.

From the outside, Trax's tall-hatchback looks are reminiscent of the Chevy Equinox. The front is accented with Chevrolet's signature dual-port grille and swept-back headlights, with chrome accents along the aerodynamic body, which is available in seven colors. Available are fog lamps, roof rails, a power sliding sunroof, and heated, power-adjustable side mirrors.

Our 80-mile drive of the practical little Trax in San Diego illuminated how the small SUV is going to stand out in this emerging segment. We tried out a number of the gizmos and gadgets that make the Trax a motorized entertainment system on wheels, and appreciated its responsive handling, good steering, and compliant suspension.

Built to fit nicely into both small budgets and small parking spaces, the Trax sits on a 100.6-inch wheelbase and has a planted, wide stance, with a 60.6-inch front and rear track. These dimensions not only give an urban runabout feel to the driving experience, but the tight 36.7-foot turning circle also enhances maneuverability and nimbleness in congested urban environments and make it easy to park. A rearview camera is standard.

Inside you'll find an attractive and comfortable cabin that offers versatility for passengers and cargo, as well as a collection of top technology and infotainment/navigation systems. The 60/40 rear seats combine with the segment-only, fold-flat front passenger seat to make way for up to 48.4 cu.-ft. of cargo-carrying capacity; behind the rear seats is 18.7 cu.-ft. The fold-flat front seat makes it easy to stow items up to 8 feet in length, such as skis, surfboards, or building materials for home projects. Passengers will appreciate a host of interior storage compartments, numerous drink holders, and plug-ins/outlets for electronic devices.

The LS model comes with such premium features as the standard Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch diagonal touchscreen, and OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot -- a first in the segment. These systems can link to devices like smartphones and MP3 players. Also onboard are Bluetooth streaming audio for music and phone, Pandora, TuneIn radio, Stitcher, and available BringGo.

GM's Ecotec 1.4-liter turbo produces 138 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,850 rpm; it's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Trax's 0-to-60 mph time is rated at 9.2 seconds.

Safety starts with a rigid body structure and a protective cage around the passenger compartment that is composed of 66 percent high-strength steel. The compact gets 10 airbags, which Chevy says is best in the small SUV class, and includes driver and passenger knee airbags and the segment's only rear-seat-mounted thorax air bags. StabiliTrak electronic stability control, ABS, and electronic brake force distribution, plus cornering brake control and brake assist are standard.

Specifications

Base price $25,030 (as tested: $28,305)
Curb weight 3,340 lbs.
Displacement 1.4-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. turbo w/SMPFI
Epa mileage rating 26 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14 gal.
Horsepower (net) 138 at 4900 rpm
Overall length 168.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 148 at 1850 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD compact CUV
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