A 2016 Chicago Auto Show world introduction, the 2017 Chevrolet Trax is substantially redesigned sporting a freshened exterior, redesigned interior and additional safety and technology features. The Trax is a five-passenger subcompact crossover that is available with front- or all-wheel drive. Competitors include the Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3 and the soon-to-be-released Ford EcoSport.
Three trim levels are offered, LS, LT and Premier. Every Trax comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. It mates to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel-drive being optional across the board. Chevrolet does not recommend towing with the Trax and does not list a towing capacity.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, rear-view camera and dual-front, front-side, side-curtain and front-knee airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance. Newly available safety features include blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert.
The 2017 redesign brings with it a seven-inch touch screen Chevrolet MyLink interface that supports Android Auto and Apple Car Play. In addition, the 2017 Trax features redesigned front and rear fascia, projector headlights and LED taillights. Prices start at $21,895 for the front-drive LS and climb to $27,495 for the all-wheel-drive Premier. The Trax has an $895 destination charge and is assembled in Mexico.
The Trax' turbocharged 1.4-liter engine provides adequate acceleration and average passing power. Most peg the 0-60 mph time between 9 and 10 seconds, which is slightly below average for the class. The engine is quiet when cruising, but buzzes in hard acceleration. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and downshifts promptly when more passing power is required.
The available all-wheel-drive system in Trax does not have a low range and is not intended for off-road use. It does a good job of quickly diverting power to the wheels with the most traction in slippery road conditions. For most Chicago drivers front-wheel drive with a good set of all-season tires is all that's needed.
EPA estimates for the all-wheel drive Trax are 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Those numbers are respectable but trail class leaders like the Mazda CX-3 at 27/32 mpg. Real-world driving will likely yield about 25 mpg overall, perhaps 27 if your commute includes a fair amount of highway driving. The engine does have automatic stop-start, which helps boost city mpg.
Dynamically, the Trax is a small vehicle that is extremely maneuverable and well suited to urban driving. The downside to a short wheelbase and relatively tall build is a tippy feeling when taking corners too quickly. Overall, Trax offers a respectable blend of suspension comfort on most roads. Steering feel is numb but at least it's fairly accurate. Brakes have adequate stopping power. Those looking for a bit more athleticism should step up to the Premier because that trim adds larger wheels and tires.
Noise levels are acceptable for the class. The buzzy engine intrudes in hard acceleration, but wind rush and tire roar are nicely muted.
Trax gets an interior makeover with its 2017 redesign. Materials are greatly improved as are ergonomics. Drivers face a single large dial for speed with flanking ancillary gauges. There's also a programmable digital readout. The center stack is dominated by a large touch-screen display that includes Chevrolet MyLink as well as support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Simple climate controls are a nice touch. Overall, the feeling certainly isn't cut-rate and the design favors function while still remaining pleasing to the eye.
Front seats are somewhat confining and only modestly padded. Head room is exceptional and leg room adequate. The same can be said for the rear seats as full-size adults lack adequate knee and foot room. Three across in back squeezes everyone. Entry/exit is a snap and outward visibility is excellent.
Despite the crossover tag, Trax really doesn't offer much cargo space behind the rear seatbacks. Total measurement is just 18.7 cubic feet, which is only slightly more than a compact sedan. On the plus side, the rear seatbacks fold to increase space to a usable 48.4 cubic feet and the tall build makes loading large objects easier. Interior storage is modest with just a few open and covered bins throughout.
Small crossovers are hot and Chevy was wise to give the Trax a facelift for 2017. The changes keep Trax fresh and the additional safety and technology features are a huge plus. Overall, Trax offers the blend of comfort, economy and versatility that shoppers in this class are demanding. Pricing is competitive, substantially more so when you consider the available rebates. If you are in the small crossover market, Trax certainly deserves more than a test drive.