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2015 Chevrolet Trax: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2014

Have you ever wondered what the Chevy Sonic hatchback would look like as a high-riding crossover SUV? Look no further than the brand-new 2015 Chevrolet Trax. Employing the Sonic's turbocharged engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, the Trax adds a raised suspension, extra headroom and a lot more cargo space and available all-wheel drive. If the Sonic seems too small and the midsize Equinox crossover seems too large, the Trax might be your perfect compromise.

The biggest issue for the Trax is that it faces a slew of tough rivals. Subcompact crossovers are all the rage these days, so automakers are racing to bring fresh offerings to the marketplace. The Trax generally has the basics covered, and it throws in standard tech features that would make some luxury brands blush. If you're looking for a crossover that's generously equipped and easy to park, the 2015 Trax is a must-drive in this segment.

What's New for 2015?

The Chevrolet Trax makes its debut this year.

What We Like

Standard touchscreen and 4G Wi-Fi; available all-wheel drive; lots of versatility in a little package; good fuel economy

What We Don't

Low-quality interior trimmings; engine sounds unrefined during acceleration

How Much?

$20,995-$25,905

Fuel Economy

The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is motivated by a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic, and buyers have their choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the front-wheel-drive Trax returns a laudable 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive Trax drops to 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Trax is offered in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option across the board.

The LS ($20,995) comes standard with features such as 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, a 7-in touchscreen with MyLink smartphone integration (and available Siri Eyes Free voice controls for iPhone users), a rearview camera, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity and a 4-speaker sound system with auxiliary and USB inputs.

The LT ($23,320) adds 16-in alloy wheels, roof rails, heated mirrors, deluxe cloth upholstery and an upgraded audio setup with satellite radio.

The LTZ ($25,905) adds 18-in alloy wheels, fog lamps, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leatherette upholstery and a 7-speaker Bose audio system.

Some of the LTZ's standard features are optional on LT, as is unique cloth/leatherette upholstery. A sunroof is optional on both LT and LTZ trims.

The Trax's back seat offers limited legroom if there are taller folks in front, but it has plenty of headroom. Watch your knees on the front passenger seatback, though, as it's covered in durable plastic and folds flat to accommodate such long items as surfboards.

Cargo space in the Trax measures 18.7 cu ft. behind the back seat, which is competitive for this class. With the rear seatbacks flipped down, the Trax has a useful 48.4 cu ft., which is fractionally less than the Jeep Renegade (50.8 cu ft.) and Kia Soul (49.5cu ft.).

Safety

The 2015 Trax is equipped with stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and 10 airbags (front, front-knee, front-side, rear-side and full-length side-curtain). The standard OnStar telematics suite includes automatic crash notification, emergency assistance, stolen vehicle location services and more.

In government crash tests, the Trax received a perfect 5-star rating for frontal impacts.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we immediately noticed the distinctive Sonic-derived instrument cluster, which is meant to evoke a motorcycle with its round analog tachometer and rectangular LCD speedometer. Another welcomed feature is the standard, nicely rendered 7-in touchscreen with Chevy's MyLink interface, including smartphone integration for popular apps such as Pandora and Stitcher. In other respects, however, the Trax's cabin is pretty plain, with a lot of hard plastic and a conservative dashboard design. Our expectations aren't particularly high in this segment; the Trax gets a passing grade, but you can find more interesting interiors in competing models.

Front passenger space is a Trax strong suit, with plenty of headroom and legroom. Oddly, there is no shared center armrest -- there's only a flip-down armrest attached to the seatback for the driver. There's also no storage bin between the front seats to house a media hub, so the USB and auxiliary audio inputs live inside the upper glovebox. (The Trax has two gloveboxes.) Taller front passengers may wish for sliding sun visors to fine-tune their lateral sun protection; the related Buick Encore comes standard with them, but the Chevy's visors are fixed.

On the road, the Trax stays commendably quiet at highway speeds, providing a more upscale experience than expected. The ride is reasonably well-damped, and we didn't notice much degradation with the LTZ model's larger 18-in wheels and lower-profile tires. Thanks to quick steering and good visibility, the Trax is in its element as an errand-runner, zipping around town with a little pep in its step. We must emphasize the word "little," however, as the humble 1.4-liter turbo runs out of steam at higher rpm, where it also makes an unbecoming racket. Shifts from the 6-speed automatic aren't always the smoothest, but this powertrain has been available for a few years now in the Cruze and Sonic, so most of the kinks have likely been worked out. Overall, the Trax may not make you want to take the long way home, but for a practical runabout on a budget, it drives just fine.

Other Cars to Consider

Jeep Renegade -- Jeep's pint-sized crossover boasts a standard 1.4-liter turbo engine that's stronger than the Trax's. It's a handsome model, too.

Kia Soul -- The second-generation Soul is much nicer than its predecessor, offering high-quality interior materials and plenty of contemporary features along with its funky looks.

Nissan Juke -- The Juke is smaller inside than the Trax, but it's the sportiest of this bunch, with styling that's definitely a love-it-or-hate-it affair.

Used Ford Escape -- The current (2013-present) Escape is larger than the Trax, yet it still feels nimble. It's also a more capable vehicle all around.

AutoTrader's Advice

Although the base LS looks a bit goofy with its 16-in steel wheels, it comes standard with just about everything a modern driver needs. The point of shopping in this segment is to save money, so we suggest sticking with the LS and banking the thousands of dollars you'll save in your pocket.

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Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax AWD LTZ
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Chevrolet Trax: New Car Review - Autotrader