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2016 Chevrolet Trax: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2015

Have you ever wondered what the Chevy Sonic hatchback would look like as a high-riding crossover SUV? To find out, look no further than the 2016 Chevrolet Trax. Employing the Sonic's turbocharged engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, the Trax adds a raised suspension, extra headroom, 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 the number of tough rivals it faces. 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 generously equipped and easy to park, the 2016 Trax is a must-drive in this segment.

What's New for 2016?

After going on sale for 2015, the Trax receives only minor updates for the 2016 model year.

What We Like

Standard touch screen and 4G Wi-Fi; available all-wheel drive; impressive versatility in a small package; good fuel economy

What We Don't

Low-quality interior trimmings; engine sounds unrefined during acceleration

How Much?

$21,200-$26,100

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Chevrolet Trax is powered 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 between 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 2016 Trax is offered in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option across the board.

The LS ($21,200) comes standard with features such as 16-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, a 7-in touch screen with MyLink smartphone integration (and available Siri Eyes Free voice controls for iPhone users), a rearview camera, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot capability, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity and a 4-speaker sound system with auxiliary and USB inputs.

The LT ($23,500) adds 16-in alloy wheels, roof rails, heated mirrors, deluxe cloth upholstery and an upgraded audio setup with satellite radio.

The LTZ ($26,100) 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.

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 (49.5 cu ft.).

Safety

The 2016 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 overall rating of five stars. The crossover also received an excellent Top Safety Pick score from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we immediately noticed and appreciated the distinctive Sonic-derived instrument cluster, which evokes a motorcycle with its round analog tachometer and rectangular LCD speedometer. Another welcomed feature is the standard, nicely rendered 7-in touch screen with Chevrolet's MyLink interface, including smartphone integration for popular apps, such as Pandora and Stitcher. In other respects, the Trax's cabin is plain with hard plastic and a conservative dashboard design. Our expectations aren't particularly high in this segment, so the Trax has 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's no shared center armrest, 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 one of the Trax's two glove boxes. 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 revolutions per minute, 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 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

2016 Jeep Renegade -- Jeep's pint-sized crossover boasts a standard 1.4-liter turbo engine that's stronger than the Trax's. It's handsomely designed, too, and it offers a lot of equipment.

2016 Kia Soul -- The second-generation Soul is much nicer than its predecessor, offering high-quality interior materials and contemporary features along with its funky looks, but there's no all-wheel drive.

2016 Mazda CX-3 -- The new CX-3 is a direct rival to the Trax, offering similar sizing, pricing and engine power. If you like the Trax, the CX-3 is definitely worth a look.

Used Ford Escape -- The current Escape is larger than the Trax, yet it feels nimble. It's also a more capable vehicle all around, but since the Escape is one segment larger than the Trax, prices are higher, which means you may want to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

Although the base LS looks goofy with its 16-in steel wheels, it comes standard with 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 by not choosing a pricier model.

Find a Chevrolet Trax for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2016 Chevrolet Trax AWD LS
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Used 2016 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT
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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.
2016 Chevrolet Trax: New Car Review - Autotrader