If you’re in the market for a small crossover, you’re spoiled for choice right now. All sorts of new entries have popped up, each with its own merits: the Honda HR-V has a cavernous cargo area; the Jeep Renegade has rugged looks and capabilities; and the Mazda CX-3 boasts sporty driving dynamics. The 2015 Chevrolet Trax doesn’t have a single defining characteristic like these standouts, but is it still a worthy choice in the segment?
GM quietly launched the Trax in the U.S. in late 2014 after the smallest Chevrolet crossover had already been on sale in Canada for two years. It’s closely related to the Buick Encore, and both crossovers are based on the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact. Though it’s significantly taller than the Sonic, the Trax handles well, with a nimble feel around town thanks to light, accurate steering and a ride that’s not too firm or too soft. The high seating position does contribute to a slight sensation of tippiness when you push the car through corners, but the tradeoff is great visibility all around. The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is also a bit quieter and more planted on the highway than other small crossovers like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3, though the extra sound deadening is likely a contributor to the Trax’s 200-400-pound weight penalty over its more svelte competitors.
The only real dynamic disappointment is the sluggish 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder. Its 138 hp has its work cut it for it moving around the 3,340-pound Trax, and the six-speed automatic’s slow shifts don’t help. At least it provides a relatively competitive 27 mpg combined, or 29 mpg if you opt for front-wheel drive.
The interior is also a letdown, at least for our loaded 2015 Chevrolet Trax LTZ model’s $27,405 asking price. Hard plastics abound, and the seats look and feel cheap. This kind of interior would be much more acceptable in a less expensive Trax LS or LT model, which cost thousands of dollars less than the LTZ. The extra money does bring features such as larger wheels, heated leatherette seats, and a premium audio system, but Honda and Mazda’s competitors offer significantly better materials and more appealing cabin designs for around the same cost as the Trax.
A lackluster powertrain and dreary interior might not seem like dealbreakers, and the 2015 Chevrolet Trax doesn’t really do anything egregiously wrong. It’s already achieving sales success for Chevrolet too, with more than 18,000 customers picking up copies in 2015 so far. But the Trax is hard to recommend over its newer competitors that are more attractive, more efficient, and better to drive. With its bland styling, modest spec sheet, and relatively dated underpinnings, the Trax just doesn’t do enough to stand out in this increasingly competitive new class of crossovers.
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