By Frank S. Washington
After almost a week of test-driving the 2017 Chevrolet Trax, we looked at the monroney (sticker) as we started to write the review. That reminded us that even before Chevrolet returned to the ranks of stylish vehicles; it was probably the best of GM’s divisions at leveraging the company’s size to pack its vehicles with a bunch of equipment at a reasonable price.
First, the Trax is a compact crossover that comes in either all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive. We had the fwd version. It was powered by a 1.4-liter four cylinder turbocharged engine that was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The combination gave it a fuel efficiency rating of 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined.
It could get from zero to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds for our front-wheel-drive copy. That might not sound all that quick but we weren’t drag racing with anybody. The Trax had a top speed of 116 mph. That doesn’t sound that fast either but how often do you go 100 mph. Besides, a few times during the week we cruised at close to 80 mph without any indication that the engine was straining. And the Chevy Trax did have some oomph. We think because the 148 pound-feet of torque was there at a relatively low 1,850 rpm.
The powertrain was smooth, we never had to do any defensive driving to get out the way because of a lack of power and the sight lines were great. We’ve noticed that a few automakers are beginning to attach sideview mirrors to the front doors of their vehicles rather than attach them at the A pillar. It lessens a sizable blind spot. And the new Trax is an early adopter.
We had the Premier trim line which replaced the LTZ model. The Trax had an all new front end featuring Chevy’s new dual port grille. There were halogen projector headlights, a freshened rear fascia, sculpted taillights and LED signature lighting on the Premier model.
Inside, there was Chevy’s signature dual cockpit with chrome accents. Quality interior materials had been used. The new instrument cluster stood out we think because of the red indicators used on the tachometer and the speedometer. And the driver information TFT screen was new and it was standard equipment.
We climbed into the back seat and found them spacious. There was plenty of headroom and legroom. What’s more, because our test model was front-wheel-drive we think three people could sit abreast in the back. They’d be close but it seemed doable.There was 18.7 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the second row seats. With them folded, cargo space increased to 48.4 cu. ft. Also, those 60/40-split rear seats folded create a flat cargo floor. The front passenger seat folded creating enough space to transport an eight-foot long piece of cargo.Our Trax had electric power steering but we never felt disconnected from the road. And this small crossover was able to smooth out some rough patches of road nicely. It had a MacPherson strut suspension with coil-over spring; direct-acting stabilizer bar; steel six-point rigid attachment front cross member in the front and compound crank (torsion beam); coil springs with twin-tube shock absorbers in the rear.
And product managers were smart in how they saved money. There were automatic power windows but only the driver’s side would go up automatically. The driver had a six way power seat but the seat back was manual. We’ve complained about this before but it was acceptable in this price class.
There were two USB jacks, one auxiliary jack, one 12V plug and a 120V socket at the base of the center console cupholder in the rear. We had Bluetooth, voice controls and satellite radio. Lane departure warning and forward collision warning were also a part of the package.
Of course, the Trax had OnStar and it included turn-by-turn navigation. No separate navigation system needed. We had 18-inch aluminum wheels, a rearview camera with cross traffic alert, remote start and front seats.
Connectivity was impressive. The crossover had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability; there was also a premium audio system. We counted seven different conduits through which you got music. And if that wasn’t enough, the 2018 Chevrolet Trax was a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot.
That seemed like an awfully good deal for $27,290 as tested.