The Trax has the best visibility of any car I’ve recently driven.
Explore the city in the Chevrolet Trax.
Gone are the days when “SUV” meant “big” and “subcompact” meant “hatchback or sedan.” Automakers are now rolling a line of crossovers and SUVs out into the munchkin end of the market.
With its 2015 Trax, Chevrolet has offered up a tiny SUV with exceptional visibility, good interior room and a surprisingly large cargo area.
The Trax is offered in base LS trim as well as LT and LTZ versions. Each model uses the same 138-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Each trim also has the option of front- or all-wheel drive. Prices range from $20,995 for an LS with frontwheel drive, up to $27,405 for an LTZ with all-wheel drive. All prices include an $875 destination charge.
General Motors says it’s aiming the Trax at what it calls “Urban Explorers” who like to seek out new adventures in the city. I drove one in San Diego, winding my way through neighborhoods and hills in an LS both with and without all-wheel drive, as well as in a front-wheel-drive LTZ.
Exterior & Styling
The Trax has conventional SUV styling and the split grille that’s shared by many of Chevrolet’s cars. It’s bulbous, but in a good way. There are some differences among the trim levels, notably that the LS doesn’t have the roof rails that the other trims do. Further, the standard wheels are 16-inch steel ones on front-wheel-drive LS models, 16-inch aluminum ones on all-wheel-drive LS models and all LT models, and 18-inch aluminum wheels on all LTZ models.
The car’s interior space is also bigger than you’d expect just looking at it from the outside. My co-driver was about the same size as me — about 6 feet tall and broad through the shoulders — and we never bumped elbows during our drive. Make no mistake: This is a small car — but while you’ll be cozy, you won’t be cramped. In the backseat, the same cozy but not cramped interior space carries over. I had plenty of legroom and headroom with the driver’s seat set to a comfortable position for me. My knees were a bit raised and there was a lack of thigh support, but for the short, urban trips that Chevrolet has in mind for this vehicle, it’d be fine.
The Trax has the best visibility of any car I’ve recently driven. Obviously a lot of that is how the windshield and windows are shaped and angled. The Trax is more upright in design than a lot of swoopy cars out there, and that’s a benefit; its high seating position also aided visibility.
It won’t just be Trax drivers noticing things going on around them: Passengers will benefit, too, especially wee ones. One of the Trax’s designers told me a challenge they were given was to make it so that a 5-year-old could see out the rear window. I can’t vouch for their success — no 5-year-olds were provided for our test drive — but allaround visibility is excellent.
Ergonomics & Electronics
Chevrolet uses its MyLink system for multimedia and navigation integration. In the era of ubiquitous smartphones, having a system that works with your phone’s navigation makes a lot of sense. Why pay for a fully integrated navigation system if you can punch the destination into your phone and have the map display on your vehicle’s screen? And why pay extra for that integrated system? This also gets automakers out of the business of trying to be one step ahead of smartphones, app developers and Google. That’s smart. Yes, you do need to have Sirius XM satellite radio and the BringGo app, but I’d still take that setup on convenience alone.
Finally, on the electronics front, there’s available 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Cargo & Storage
The Trax’s ability to carry cargo is notable. With the rear seats in place, there’s a surprisingly large cargo area. It’d easily be enough for at least three adults’ luggage, and the liftover height isn’t terribly high.
If that’s not enough room, the rear seats fold, and all Trax models have a front passenger seat that folds flat and is backed with plastic to allow you to carry long items, such as surfboards.
Moving around to the front, it’s largely the same story: There’s lots of room for stuff. There’s no center console, but there are numerous door pockets and a storage area under the passenger seat. Also, the Trax has top-of-dash storage for sunglasses, as well as a compartment above the glove box that has a USB port; it’s also large enough for a bigger smartphone plus a pair of gloves or something.
The Trax has not yet been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Trax a five-star rating — the agency’s highest — for frontal impacts and a four-star rating for rollovers. The ratings are the same whether the vehicle has all- or frontwheel drive. The Trax has not had a side crash test performed, and there’s no overall crash-test rating for the car.