Real-World Review

2015 Chevrolet Trax: Real World Review

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2015

The subcompact crossover segment is growing, and its latest addition is the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, which slots below the brand's Equinox SUV and rivals models such as the new Mazda CX-3, FIAT 500X, Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V. So how is Chevrolet's entrant into this hot new market? We spent a week behind the wheel to find out.

Handsome Outside

Just about everyone who drove our Trax press car was impressed with the exterior design. Although one driver said it "reminds me of the Equinox," many of us thought its looks went even further, bringing a more rugged look that most rivals just don't have to the compact crossover class. We like the bulging fenders, the squared off wheel arches and -- yes -- even the Orange Rock Metallic exterior color. We know most buyers won't get the Trax in this color, but we honestly think they'll be missing out.

Average Inside

Inside, however, we weren't as impressed. The Trax screams "inexpensive car" from the moment you open the door -- maybe even more than the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic, which is sort of a car version of the Trax. With the exception of a reasonably nice leatherette interior, our "upscale" LTZ model had a fairly sparse cabin, with most materials feeling inexpensive to look at and even cheaper when touched.

The problem here isn't the Trax, it's the Buick Encore. The Trax shares its platform -- actually its entire architecture, engine and transmission -- with the more luxurious Encore, which is only a few thousand dollars more expensive. As a result, we suspect that Chevy may have intentionally limited the quality of the Trax's interior, knowing that Buick shoppers would just save their money and buy a Trax if the Chevy's interior was too nice.

We think this works -- the Encore certainly has a much more upscale cabin than the Trax -- but we wonder if the cost cutting has gone too far, to the point where buyers might be turned off from the Chevy altogether. We certainly prefer the interior in the Jeep Renegade, for instance, which seems to have more style and better materials.

Mediocre Performance

Although we don't exactly expect lightning-quick speed from the latest round of subcompact SUVs, it's worth noting that the Trax's performance is especially lethargic. That's no surprise if you check the numbers: at just 138 horsepower, the Trax loses the power race to virtually all rivals, including the Mazda CX-3, the Honda HR-V and the Renegade. Zero-to-60 is especially slow, with the Trax recording times of a middling 10 seconds or so.  However, this is an area where a few of our editors disagree, those who drove the Trax on the open road found the performance to be underwhelming. Passing another car at 55 or 60 mph isn't especially rewarding, but those who drove the Trax in more urban settings felt like the performance was adequate. The turbocharged engine is perfect for around town errand-running, at times it even feels quick. On the highway, it kind of runs out of steam.

Fortunately, the upside to average performance is typically strong fuel economy, and the Trax does indeed deliver in this arena. The tiny Chevy touts 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which is excellent for an SUV -- and enough to make some drivers forget all about the Trax's average straight-line acceleration figures.

Our Take

We like the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, but we like its upscale Buick Encore twin even more. This is no surprise because the Encore is designed to look nicer on the outside, feel nicer on the inside and drive like a more luxurious crossover. But it doesn't just stop there: The Encore also offers a lot more equipment, such as a power passenger seat, a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, a forward-collision warning system, dual-zone automatic climate control and chrome wheels. As a result, we suggest upgrading to the Encore if you can. If not, the Trax is a good small crossover -- but it's not perfect. We'd suggest shopping the competition before buying anything in this segment.

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Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT
Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax
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Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT
Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax
$14,995
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Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax AWD LTZ
Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax
$16,737
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Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT
Used 2015 Chevrolet Trax
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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: Real World Review - Autotrader