Small on the Outside – Roomy on the Inside
General Motors goal of expanding its SUV lineup was detailed in the trade magazine Automotive News in its July 20 issue, where it talked about the company’s plans to add yet another model into the mix that already includes the Trax, Equinox, Traverse, Tahoe and Suburban. While that’s a glimpse into the near future, the most recent addition to the lineup is the all-new subcompact 2015 Chevrolet Trax.
economy is the ticket of entry for this small ute segment, so you can expect to see us checking out even more entrants in the coming months.
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax comes in front drive and all-wheel drive, both of which are powered by a turbocharged 1.4L DOHC 16-valve I-4 engine, with sequential multi-port fuel injection running unleaded regular. Mated to a smooth operating six-speed automatic transmission, it puts out 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Clean Fleet Report’s two-wheel front drive Trax was EPA rated at 26 City / 34 Highway / 29 Combined. In 275 miles of 75-percent highway / 25-percent city driving, we averaged 31.8 mpg. If the 14 gallon fuel tank was run dry that would have taken us 445 miles down the road.
Note: The EPA’s gas mileage formula is 45-percent highway and 55-percent city. Here in Southern California our 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving pattern is far more real world and is why we report it to you.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Our Trax LT weighed in at a relatively trim 3,136 lbs. The suspension, which could have been a bit more firm for our liking, was composed of front McPherson struts with coil-over springs and a stabilizer bar that was mated to a torsion beam, with coil springs and twin-tube shock absorbers in the rear. I found the ride to be smooth on the highway and around town, but the electric assisted power steering was a little vague, but did not hamper responsiveness when negotiating curves at low or highway speeds. Body roll was acceptable for a small crossover and wind noise was nearly non-existent.
The 1.4L turbo engine ran smooth and was not buzzy, even when pushed hard, and was quick enough to get up-to-speed for freeway merging. When at freeway speeds, the automatic is in sixth gear getting maximum fuel economy, which is a good thing. However, when it came time to pass, there is a lack of torque in sixth gear and a couple seconds of lag before the turbo kicks in and the transmission drops down a gear or two. The more I drove the Trax on the freeway I was able to anticipate and time the lag so this no longer was an issue.
The Trax felt solid to the road with 16-inch wheels (18-inch come on the LTZ trim level) and 205/70R All-season tires, which provided for good maneuverability. Stopping was straight from power-assisted ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes, electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control, brake assist, with a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and stability and traction control.
Driving Experience: Interior
Trax has three trim levels–LS, LT and LTZ–Clean Fleet Report drove the LT version that came with what Chevrolet says is “the technology city dwellers depend on for their connected lifestyles.” The Trax certainly did have all the connected car technology we have come to expect, such as the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a seven-inch color touch screen that handled the rear view camera, SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), the Bose seven-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3 sound system, USB port with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone. To take the connectivity technology a step further, the Trax LT had Siri Eyes Free (for iPhone users) and the BringGo navigation app that works with all smartphones. You also get OnStar and 4G LTE for Wi-Fi, (three-month, three-gigabyte data trial) that turns your car into a hotspot.
A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly GM representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer
and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM has been the industry leader and after the introductory service plan expires, it is well worth renewing.
Other nice interior features are 15 storage compartments, cup holders, A/C, power windows and door locks, power and heated outside mirrors, carpeted floor mats, removable cargo security cover, exterior temperature display, remote keyless entry and vehicle start systems, day/night rearview mirror, 110V and 12-volt accessory outlets.
The Trax dash layout is simple and straight-forward, featuring the analog tachometer and digital speedometer as part of the 3.5-inch Driver Information Center. All controls are within easy reach of the driver, but if you have read many of our reviews you will see Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls. Chevrolet got it half right with the climate control knobs, large enough to use with gloves, which are centrally placed just below the seven-inch color touch screen. But on that screen are the main controls to operate the infotainment system, which leaves the leather-wrapped steering wheel-mounted controls as back-up if the screen should decide to not cooperate to your touch command. It worked well during our time with the Trax but knobs for volume and channel selection really isn’t too much to ask for.
Our Trax LT had a combination of hard and soft plastic on the dash and door panel surfaces, with comfortable seating for four with good rear head and leg room. The rear 60/40 seats both fold flat in a system that starts with flipping the seat bottom towards the driver seat and then dropping the seat back to the flat position. Storage is ample with the rear seat up but expansive when the rear seat is folded flat. Access to the storage area is through a manual liftgate and a convenient low lift-over load height leading to a flat floor.
Chevrolet describes the Trax as having a “contemporary interior environment” that offers “premium features.” Our Trax interior color was black with tasteful brushed aluminum accents on the center console and steering wheel and surrounding the air vents and instrument cluster. The seats on the LT model were a sturdy, durable cloth fabric with leatherette trim and red top stitching that should hold up well to constant use. The seats themselves provided good support; the driver seat was six-way power adjustable, which helped in finding a comfortable seating position along with the tilt and telescopic steering column. We felt only having a center armrest for the driver was an unnecessary omission from what was an otherwise complete interior.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The Trax is all-new for the 2015 model year but has been sold in 60+ countries before coming to the United States. I would classify the Trax exterior design as being safe, with the Chevrolet Bowtie center-placed in the split front grill. The Trax is a tall vehicle and a bit boxy that gives it good outward visibility, with one minor note. The top edge of the outside mirrors have a downward angle to them that cuts-off just enough mirror surface to create a blind spot. No matter how much you try to adjust the mirrors they cannot be positioned so the top edge is parallel to the ground. It’s a case of form over function.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Trax has a 5 Star Government Safety Rating and comes with safety and convenience features including 10 air bags, Halogen headlights, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), content and vehicle theft alarm and the previously mentioned 4-wheel disc Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with brake assist.
Pricing and Warranties
Pricing for the 2015 Chevrolet Trax LS begins at $20,120 with the AWD version starting at $22,495. Clean Fleet Report’s Trax LT 2WD had an MSRP of $22,940. All prices do not include the $875 Destination Charge.
The 2015 Trax comes with these warranties:
- Bumper-to-Bumper Three-year/36,000-mile
- Powertrain with Courtesy Transportation Five-year/100,000-mile
- Roadside Assistance Two-year/25,000-mile
- Factory Scheduled Service Two-year/24,000-mile
- Rust-through Perforation Six-year/100,000-mile
Observations: 2015 Chevrolet Trax LT 2WD
and its General Motors sibling, the Buick Encore. To standout from this crowded field the Trax holds its own by offering a roomy interior with excellent storage space. The Trax is responsive to drive, has good technology offerings and mid-30s highway fuel economy—all at a good price and value.
Since there are so many very good vehicles in this segment, your consideration list will be and should be quite long. Drive as many as possible, getting to know each one’s strengths and attributes. The beauty of a small SUV is their nimble handling, good fuel economy and not-so-large size that makes around town trips a breeze.
If Chevy’s little SUV doesn’t fit your needs, the brand also offers (in addition to its stair-step SUV collection) either their City Express or Express vans, or even a pickup trucks like the Colorado and Silverado. Oh, and let’s not forget their full line-up of cars like the Spark, Sonic, Cruze, Volt, Malibu or Impala. The point is that Chevrolet does not want you to leave their family, and with the 2015 Trax debut, Chevrolet provides a compelling option when looking to purchase a small SUV.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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