As you move up in the world, there are certain luxuries in life that are total game-changers. Things that make it impossible to go back once you have experienced their brilliance.
As a young buck moving from the college dorms into a small first apartment, you have a hard gig in life overall. You might not even have a dishwasher or a washer and dryer in your unit. Typing this now in my 30’s, the idea of living without such modern conveniences is almost unfathomable.
Going back to a laundromat two blocks away or a musty basement of half-functional washers? The horror!
Cars can be the same way. Once you get hooked on SUV visibility and easy entry, the idea of driving a compact sedan again is about as appealing as dish soap.
Budgets and income often put some detours on our collective road to Escalades and Range Rovers. How to get the best of the perks you love in an SUV, but with a friendly price in the low $20’s and fuel economy in the high 20’s or better.
The all-new 2015 Chevrolet Trax fits perfectly into this evolving world of your 20’s — letting you keep the SUV features you love, but at a bargain price.
Is the Trax good enough to keep you feeling SUV-flush? And how about its overall cabin room, driving manners, efficiency and tech?
Let’s dive into the full review to find out!
The exterior design of the Trax leans heavily on the Chevy truck aesthetic. Think of the giant full-frame grille of the Malibu mixed with the butch details of the Colorado pickup and you land very close to the Trax’s style.
We really like its blocky nose best, with the step-up from the fenders to the rounded hood helping the Trax feel much larger than it really is.
Some modern internal headlight optics make a bit of an infinity swoosh of lines inside the lamps to separate the low and high-beam lenses, which is classy and feels premium. The upper third of the lamps is amber for the blinkers and running lights, with this semi-engaged lighting choice being the coolest on offer. A lack of any LED’s or HIDs up front is fairly normal for the Trax’s price point, but is not as cool as the projector-HIDs and LED bumper strakes in the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
The final design element to note up front with the Trax is its incredibly deep front air dam. This helps aero smoothness and MPG efficiency dramatically, but does look a bit odd up close. The aero shroud and numerous grey plastic elements are better from far away than up close, regrettably.
In profile, the Trax is just as fun and funky as a 20-something co-ed. This is a sporty and playful roofline and surface treatment. Overflared fender boxes help widen the Trax visually, as does the shrinking glasshouse above the beltline toward the rear of the truck-let.
The sporty and youthful feel of the Trax is really confirmed in the tiny rear three-quarter windows and steep rear tailgate angle. The Trax feels completely fresh and nicely grounded from out back. A solid B+ overall design with great curb appeal.
Small SUVs so far have been much more ‘small’ and much less ‘SUV.’
This tiny-cabin issue applies to the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500x, Nissan Juke and Mitsu Outlander in spades.
The Chevy Trax is avoids this with a much larger width than you might expect at this price. The Trax is the widest car in its segment, and inside you avoid rubbing shoulders or elbows with buddies — like in all compact cars or many small SUVs. That alone is worth the price of admission for some.
But for others, the Trax’s cabin keeps making a solid case for itself. The driving position is good with great seat and wheel adjustment ranges, great visibility and fun digital/analog hybrid gauges. A giant digital speedo is joined by a traditional rev dial. Everybody wins! The blue Indiglo style of the binnacle and gauge lighting is high-vis and again very unlike most econoboxes.
Chevrolet includes standard 4G LTE wireless internet for three months on the Trax, with the subscription very modest thereafter. SXM trial is also very welcome via the touchscreen MyLink screen, which also has full Apple Siri EyesFree and other integrations via a glovebox-mounted USB port. We like the infotainment overall. It is quick-reacting and has nice graphics, but the screen and gloss-black shroud is easily scratched.
What the Trax really aces on the interior tally is its seriously easy access.
If you look at the Trax in profile, it really is almost all doors. All four are gigantic and open wide, especially in the back seat. Getting in there is no penalty contortion like the ghastly Jeep Patriot. There is respectable legroom in back and much more space than the Nissan Juke, among others.
The trunk of the Trax is 15-cubic-feet with the seats up, expanded to an IKEA-craving 48-cubic-feet with them folded flat.
Most city cars and compact SUVs are less-than-thrilling to see outside in the driveway. CVTs galore, plus gutless engines and woeful highway power.
We actually had a really good time testing the Trax on hard throttle for days and days. The Chevy has one engine and transmission for all trims: a 1.4-liter turbo four with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-drive is standard and the best way to achieve the headline 27-city, 34-highway MPG stats. Most people will be completely happy with the front-drive model, as it is a bit quicker than the AWD car and cheaper to boot.
But for those that get snow for even a few days a year, we strongly recommend the AWD choice. It is only a slight 1-MPG ding in thirst, but offers a world of grip you will appreciate. The front-drive test Trax was a bit too eager to spin its tires even on the very-light-duty grass of the photos below. After all, why not have a full set of SUV benefits to go with your big ride height and cabin!?
The LT trim here is mid-way up the ladder, with a base price from $22,000 versus $20,000 for the base LS model. The uplevel LTZ from $25,000 brings foglamps and 18-inch wheels versus the 16-inchers of the test truck.
Some really cool and posh colors available on the Trax. We like the Espresso brown or the Black best, even with its $300 upcharge. The triple white is a fantastic shade of Escalade white, but is very pricey at $1000 extra.
The 2015 Chevy Trax delivers the ‘city-smart’ benefits Chevy includes throughout its commercials. This really is a chameleon of a machine. In tight parking spots or garages, the Trax is nimble and easy to fit anywhere.
But come the end of the month, the Trax aces its main reason for being: it is easy on the checking account. Both its monthly payments and gas usage will be at classic econo-car levels.
On the road, the Trax drives without small-car noise and small-SUV tightness.
From across the street, the Trax looks like a chic and trendy SUV with Chevy truck design DNA in an all-new shape.
Being all things to all people!? Sounds like our cant-live-without besties in the kitchen and laundryroom…!
As you already know or will soon discover… once you have one, there is no going back.
Build out your own Trax via this link.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.