Only a few short years ago –- OK maybe 10 or 15 years ago -- the idea of selling tiny B-Class cars or crossovers in the U.S. market would have been dismissed as the inane ramblings of a depraved product planner. But now the things are everywhere. It seems practicality, relatively low cost and inherent darlingness are good things.

Next month there’ll be one more –- the Chevy Trax. This bulbously cute five-door rides on an AWD-capable version of GM’s vaunted and global Gamma II platform, the underpinnings of which support vehicles as diverse as the Buick EncoreChevy Sonic and Opel Mokka. Starting at $20,995 including destination, the Trax offers the connectivity buyers increasingly crave, including OnStar 4G LTE, a wifi hotspot that will support seven devices, Siri EYes Free Voice command technology and a 7-inch color touchscreen that displays the rear view camera. Inside there is up to 48.4 cubic feet of cargo room and space for five real, live adults (we parked our freakishly gangly frame in the back comfortably). The Trax’s front passenger seat even folds flat to better accommodate surfboards, big screens and potted palms. It’s 8 feet from the closed liftgate to the point where cargo bumps against the dashboard.

The Trax is sold in 66 markets worldwide, but American models have reinforced front ends to accommodate IIHS shallow-offset forward-collision standards as well as reinforcements to accommodate FMVSS 226 rollover protection standards. There are ten airbags in each one. We also get acoustic refinements in the form of sound-deadening glass. Shocks are set a little firmer on both jounce and rebound to impart a sportier feel, and the electric power steering gets increased effort from on-center for better feel. The similar Buick Encore gets further refinement in the form of hydraulic ride bushings in the front control arms that Trax does not. Encore spring and shock tuning is also slightly more luxurious.

There is one engine available –- the 1.4-liter turbo we like in the Chevy Sonic. It makes 138 hp at 4,900 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque starting at 1,850 revs. That’ll move the 3,048-pound Trax from 0-60 in 9.4 seconds in FWD configuration and 9.7 with the optional all wheel-drive. The AWD operates via a rear drive module/secondary axle torque transfer device using electro-magnetic actuated primary and secondary clutches, while the system grabs outside slipping wheels for side-to-side torque distribution

Trax competes in an increasingly crowded segment, with eight crossovers in the U.S. by 2018, 12 worldwide.

How Does It Drive?

We spent a rainy afternoon driving through suburban San Diego in both front- and all wheel-drive Traxes. At first the setup felt a little more taut than we would have expected in such a small and inexpensive package, but after a short time behind the wheel that tautness melded into a sort of B-class crossover responsiveness. The six-speed automatic has a manual-shift mode operated via a column-mounted switch that adds a little sportiness, too.

The Trax may be sportier than the similar Buick Encore but not quite at the level of competitors like the Fiat 500LNissan Juke or Mini Cooper Countryman. But it makes up for that in cargo roominess and modularity. The middle seats flip and fold pretty quickly with simple manual pulls and when flat, the area does indeed offer loads of room.

Do I Want It?

The Trax is almost the same as the Encore and stickers for four grand less. It’s less than the Juke and Mini Cooper Countryman, too. Chevy also lists the coming Honda HRVJeep Renegade and Fiat 500X among competitors that will be in the segment soon, with a total of eight competitors available in the U.S. by 2018 and 12 globally.

The Trax drives a lot slower than some current competitors like the Nissan Juke and even the Fiat 500L, but it makes up for that in roominess inside. It has a suite of connectivity features, all of which are becoming increasingly important for buyers, and it looks cute, like a tiny GMC cabover. Anyone looking around in this segment will be happy to find that it’s a buyers market, and will continue to be as more entries arrive this spring behind the Trax, which arrives in showrooms in January.

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