Meet the new 2015 Chevrolet TraxChevy’s latest small crossover and the newest vehicle riding atop the Gamma II platform. The Aveo, Sonic, and Spark are the corporate cousins, but the Trax is much taller, and in the case of my tester, is available with AWD.

The Trax is a truly global product, selling in some 67 markets across the world. It’s even built overseas in Bupyeong, South Korea. Nevertheless, the compact ‘ute blends in nicely with the larger, full-body SUVs that roam the streets of America. Still, there’s no denying this thing’s small-car up-bringing.

Thankfully some small-car attributes have snuck through the “crossing over” process. The Trax is rated by the EPA for 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Opt for the AWD, and those numbers drop by two and three mpg respectively. That’s not terrible. On the other hand, the down sides to owning a small car – cargo space, for example – didn’t make the transition. The Trax offers a generous 48.4 cubic feet of room with the second row folded flat.

So what’s it like to live with the Trax for a week? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading past the jump

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    138 @ 4900
  • MPG(Cty):
    24
  • MPG(Hwy):
    31
  • Torque @ RPM:
    148 @ 1850
  • Energy:
    Turbocharged
  • Displacement:
    1.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9.4 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; AWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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The windshield also leaves room for a small window beside the side mirrors, looking like the old school vent windows

The Trax is unmistakably related to the other Gamma II cars, especially the Spark and Sonic. Its styling and shape are very familiar while its grille takes on a somewhat unique shape that still carries the corporate look. A steep windshield leads to a tall greenhouse that provides plenty of outward visibility. The windshield also leaves room for a small window beside the side mirrors, looking like the old school vent windows. Too bad they aren’t.

Around the sides, the bubbly shape allows for plenty of interior room while giving the Trax some vertical presence next to larger crossovers. Black cladding flows from the front bumper rearward, tracing the wheel arches and the bottom sections of the doors, ending boldly across the rear bumper. It might look good for more traditional SUVs with off-road prowess, but the black plastic makes this mid-grade trim level crossover seem somewhat down market. Perhaps that is an intentional move to slot the Trax well below its Buick brethren.

All told, the exterior enjoys tidy dimensions, though plagued by somewhat bland styling.

Interior

2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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The controls are easy to operate and the fancy seven-inch infotainment screen looks like Apple designed it

Slip behind the wheel of the 2015 Trax and you might mistake your location for the Chevy Sonic. The interior is a dead ringer for the car-based cousin, so you couldn’t be blamed. Thankfully the overall design is a good one. Things are well placed and decently conceived. There is storage galore, with cubbies on top of the center stack, above the conventional glove box, in the doors, and in front of the shifter. Rear passengers also get small storage bins in their door panels, along with cup holders in the center armrest. Between the front seats lies four, yes four, cup holders. The space is too narrow for a center console bin, so GM did the next best thing.

Cargo room in back is also respectable, even with the second row in place. The false floor covers the compact spare tire, but also hides plenty of cubbyholes around the tire’s perimeter. Lay the back seats down, and the Trax offers 48.4 cubic feet of room.

Passenger comfort is good all round, save for the rear center seat. Up front, ergonomics are good with plenty of visibility over the sloping hood. The controls are easy to operate and the fancy seven-inch infotainment screen looks like Apple designed it. Sadly, Apple CarPlay hadn’t made it to my tester. Behind the wheel, the gauge cluster is a mix of digital and analog, with a semi-configurable arrangement on the digital size. The setup works well, but entering the menus brings up 1980s-style digital fonts that look as if they belong on a VCR. Otherwise, the experience from the driver’s seat is commendable.

Powertrain

2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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The four-banger’s torque comes on strong early on – giving full torque at a mere 1,850 rpm

The Trax is a world traveler, so it has a few engine options in its portfolio, but here in the U.S., the Trax is only available with the familiar 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder. That’s the same engine found in the Cruze and Sonic. It even makes the same 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. While those numbers don’t sound too impressive, the four-banger’s torque comes on strong early on – giving full torque at a mere 1,850 rpm. Horsepower takes some winding, but it arrives in full at 4,900 rpm.

Mated to the iron block, aluminum head mill is GM’s Hydra-Matic 6T40 automatic transmission. The unit provides surprisingly smooth shifts and even more surprisingly quick manual shifting. Of course, it’s far from the 8L90 found in the Corvette or 2016 Camaro, but it does a decent job for this crossover.

My tester’s AWD system offered nary a hint of its presence the entire time I drove it, though torque steer was never present. I imagine wet or snowy weather would allow the setup to shine, but I had neither during my testing week here in Florida.

As mentioned before, the Trax offers respectable fuel mileage for its size, with an EPA rating of 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway on my AWD variant. With its 14-gallon tank, the crossover has a theoretical range of 434 miles of highway driving.

Pricing

2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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A small footprint, the turbocharged engine, and its looks aren’t the only small-car attribute that translates over from the Sonic and Spark. The Trax comes with a base price of $20,995. My tester lacked a detailed build sheet, but playing around with Chevy’s online configurator resulted in an estimated as-tested price of $26,200. That’s not terrible for a mid-grade trim level with AWD and several options, including a sunroof.

Driving Impressions


The Trax’s extra height and short wheelbase are immediately noticeable from behind the wheel. Still, the crossover proves to be sure-footed and stable at highway speeds. Acceleration is modest, with the turbo four winding out to redline in the 9.4-second jaunt to 60 mph. Braking feels confident, though the pedal feel is typical GM spongy. Steering is nicely weighted with good on-center feel. It loads up during corners, though it doesn’t communicate what’s going on with the front tires.

Speaking of those tires, the skinny 205-series rubber is quick to understeer, letting forth squeals of submission under the Trax’s 3,208-pound curb weight. On the other hand, the narrow tires track well on uneven pavement as they avoid tracking grooves like fatter tires.

Highway speeds come in a moderate time and are easily maintained. Passing is slow and is accompanied by plenty of engine noise. My only real complaint is the rear suspension’s tendency to hop or pop over expansion joints in the highway. It’s just uncomfortable and doesn’t match the ride characteristic at slower speeds.

Competition

Nissan Juke

2015 Nissan Juke High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Nissan Juke is a funky looking crossover that packs plenty of styling and a fun personality. 2015 has brought a mid-cycle refresh that carries revised headlights, boomerang-style taillights, and reshaped bumpers. Inside, a refreshed cargo area now lets owners fold the second row flat for added room.

Under the hood comes a 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Prices start at $20,250.
Read our full review here

Jeep Renegade

2015 Jeep Renegade - Driven
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Like the Trax, the Renegade is new for 2015 – though the Jeep is really all new. The fun-loving little Renegade offers seating for five and cargo room for plenty of stuff. Fold the 60/40-split second row down for more cargo room. The Jeep also comes with more personality than nearly every other non-Jeep vehicle on the market. Easter Eggs adorn every inch and its design in certainly one-of-a-kind.

Power comes from either the 1.4-liter turbo four or the 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder. Opt for the 1.4-liter, and you get a six-speed manual transmission. The Tigershark comes exclusively with FCA’s nine-speed automatic. Prices start low, undercutting the competition. The base Sport model starts at $17,995 while the top-trim Trailhawk lists for $25,995.
Read our full review here

Conclusion

2015 Chevrolet Trax - Driven
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All told, the Trax offers plenty of content and capability for a reasonable price. It’s Chevy’s least-expensive vehicle available with AWD and it boasts plenty of interior volume without sacrificing exterior tidiness. Its 1.4-liter turbo offers decent power, though it feels somewhat outmatched by the 3,208-pound curb weight.

The crossover’s total of 10 standard air bags, standard OnStar with 4G LTE, and the next generation of Chevy’s MyLink makes me consider the Trax as a perfect solution to a teen’s first car. In light of that realization, it’s probably a good thing it’s not the fasted crossover out there or that it suffers from excessive understeer in hard corners. Even for an older audience, the Trax makes good on its promise of usability inside a compact package.

Obviously this Chevy is no hotrod, so I won’t judge it on that. What it does do well is A-to-B transportation wrapped in somewhat trendy styling with excellent fuel economy, all topped off with a huge dose of safety.

  • Leave it
    • Looks a little cheesy
    • Harsh engine noises at high rpm
    • A few hard plastics inside
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