The Trax is an interesting take on the hot subcompact crossover segment. Whereas the pioneers of this category tried hard to mimic SUVs in looks, the newer vehicles aim for a sportier, funkier vibe. The Ford Ecosport still carries SUV styling cues, while the Honda HR-V goes for a sports-coupe appearance. The Trax fits somewhere in the middle: It’s like a subcompact hatchback on steroids with its bulging hood, grille and fenders. Yes, we get it--it has muscles. It’s decidedly more masculine than the HR-V.
Some SUV-like cues are still present, like the skid plate below the front bumper, and black fender liners that also cover the lower door sills. Just as the HR-V is apparently based on the Jazz, the Trax is obviously based on the Sonic. The dashboard and controls panels carry Sonic bits and styling. The ‘motorcycle-inspired’ instrument panel, which includes a big rotary tachometer, is also found in Chevy’s smaller cars. Speed and fuel level are displayed digitally.
The audio system is controlled via touchscreen. The display is just as bright and more colorful than the Honda’s, but the HR-V unit is much more responsive to touch input. Pairing a phone using Bluetooth needs some digging around in the Trax’s menus, but using it is straightforward. The system allows for voice command, including access to Apple’s Siri virtual assistant. As for A/C controls, they are basic, with traditional rotary knobs.
Because of the Trax’s shorter wheelbase, the rear seat cushion also feels shorter than the HR-V’s, and foot space is correspondingly tighter. In its favor, the Chevy’s tall, squarish roofline makes getting into and out of the car easier. Even the rear seats are easy to access, and can fit tall individuals.
We found the driver seat difficult to get comfortable on, especially when compared to the HR-V’s. Your experience may be different, though, because one of our editors hated the Honda seat. Moreover, the steering wheel only adjusts for tilt, limiting its comfort factor when trying to set an ideal driving position.
The secret weapon of the Trax is its engine. Chevrolet is the first to introduce a turbo mill in this segment. The 1.4-liter gasoline powerplant delivers 138hp and 200Nm. That torque is accessible even at the lower end of the rev range. The combination of the engine and the six-speed automatic transmission is excellent, making the car eager to zip forward with even a light touch on the accelerator. The slushbox shifts crisply and promptly, negating the need for an override most of the time. The HR-V, when not in Sport mode, feels positively sluggish in comparison.
The suspension is the basic front/rear combo of MacPherson struts and torsion beam. The setup is for sportier handling, the little sport-ute staying in its lane during enthusiastic driving. The ride is firm but not harsh.
Six airbags are standard on the Trax. To help keep it on the road, it features ABS, traction control, and stability control. It also has cornering brake control, helping to keep the vehicle more stable under braking when taking a curve. Talk about staying on track.
SPECS: CHEVROLET TRAX 1.4T LT
Engine: 1.4-liter DOHC I4
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 138hp @ 4,900-6,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 1,850-4,900rpm
Up next: Honda HR-V