2015 Trax New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Trax is a small crossover sport-utility launched in late 2012 in Mexico and Canada as a 2013 model, and for 2015 Chevrolet Trax has been introduced to the U.S. Based on the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic's architecture, it's a more affordable Chevy version of the Buick Encore sharing the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.
Trax is in the same class as Kia Soul, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Mazda CX-3. We think this pleasant-driving blend of small-car agility and efficiency with CUV utility (up to 48.4 cu. ft. of easy-access cargo space) will more than hold its own.
It offers a high level of connectivity and some class-exclusive features, including standard Chevy MyLink with a seven-inch color touch screen, available OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, and even (for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users) Siri Eyes Free. Remote keyless entry, electric power steering, a 60/40 split fold-flat rear seat, a fold-down front passenger seat (to extend the cargo floor), USB and auxiliary ports and a plethora of handy storage spaces are standard, while remote start, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a BringGo navigation app and all-wheel drive is available. It also boasts 10 standard air bags, a standard rearview camera and available rear park assist.
While the 2015 Trax boasts attractive 26-mpg city and 34 highway EPA fuel economy ratings, its Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 engine delivers a modest (SAE-certified) 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. This is sufficient around town but barely adequate for highway trips with more than one or two passengers and cargo. The six-speed automatic transmission, with TAPShift manual control on the floor-mounted gear lever, has a low first gear for good low-end response and a tall overdrive top gear to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce engine noise at highway speeds.
Given the Trax's small size, its relatively long 100.6-inch wheelbase, wide stance (60.6-inch front and rear tracks) and strong structure contribute to a confident, tied-down handling feel and a pleasingly smooth, quiet ride in most conditions. Its suspension is MacPherson struts with coil springs, and a large stabilizer bar in front and a compound-crank (torsion beam) linkage with gas-charged twin-tube shocks in back, and its efficiency-enhancing column-mounted, variable-effort electric power steering delivers fairly precise feel. Standard wheels are 16-inch steel on base LS models, 16-inch aluminum on mid-range LTs and 18-inch aluminum on range-topping LTZs.
Standard active (accident-avoidance) safety features include StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation, ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist and a rearview camera. The 10 standard air bags are driver and front-passenger frontal, driver and front-passenger knee and both thorax and side curtain bags for front and rear occupants. On top of all this is GM's exclusive OnStar technology with Advanced Crash Response System, emergency assistance and more. Importantly, both Trax and platform-mate Buick Encore recently earned Good scores in all categories of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, including the very tough small overlap test that simulates a collision with another vehicle or object (like a utility pole or tree) in which a narrow section of the frontal area is impacted.
We'll report on other new entries in this suddenly-hot segment as we drive them, but despite needing a bit more power in some situations, this 2015 Chevy Trax will likely be a strong contender.
The base LS model comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning with air filtration, power windows and locks, tilt/telescopic steering column, steering wheel audio controls, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, remote keyless entry, MyLink connectivity with 7-inch diagonal touch screen, Gen 10 OnStar with available 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot, intermittent rear-window wiper, 16-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist, automatic on/off halogen headlamps and a compact spare tire.
The LT upgrades to deluxe cloth upholstery and adds SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three-month trial subscription), USB and Auxiliary inputs, remote start, cruise control, power heated outside mirrors, driver information center, a 110-Volt power outlet, 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.
The LTZ adds leatherette seating, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 6-way power driver seat, heated front seats, Bose Premium Audio, rear park assist, 18-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps.
LT-model options are the LT Plus Package ($495), which brings a six-way power driver seat, deluxe cloth/leatherette trim, leather-wrap steering wheel and rear park assist, and a $1,400 Sun and Sound Package that includes a sunroof and Bose Premium Audio. The only available LTZ-model option is a $900 sunroof.
Safety features include 10 standard airbags (dual frontal, front knee, front and rear side-curtain and side-impact), Stabilitrak stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation, ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist, a rearview camera, daytime running lamps, theft alarm, theft deterrent system and GM OnStar with Advanced Crash Response System, emergency assistance and more.