You’re not exactly sure how to classify the Trax. Chevrolet officially calls it a crossover, but from some angles, it can actually pass for a hatchback. Now, whether you’re in “camp lowered crossover” or “camp raised hatchback”, one thing is for certain: it’s a vehicle that’s worth more than just the sum of its parts.
Chevrolet has always appealed to the family-oriented set and its other SUVs, the Captiva and Trailblazer, both offer qualities that make it the de facto choice of moms bringing kids to soccer practice and poodles to the doggy parlor. But you can’t simply do that in the small crossover segment.
In a segment that still values individuality, Chevrolet has positioned the Trax to be the segment’s urban runabout vehicle. It’s imbued with characteristics that make the typical Millennial hipster happy: practical, thrifty, and techy. It’s both a good car for college kids or young couples alike. Now, if you’re not feeling the urge to grow facial hair or to excessively put on any hair product, you’re not alone. The biggest weakness to the Trax is that it lacks the unique looks to stand out.
The Trax is exactly how you’ll imagine a Chevrolet crossover to look and for that, it lacks visual drama. It’s well proportioned, clean, and elegant in some angles, but it just doesn’t call attention to itself. By itself, it’s nice to look at, but park it in a mall, it’ll easily get lost. You have a feeling that its designers were gunning for the “hipster chick wearing high-cut jeans” look only to get a grownup trying to hang out with the teenagers.
Inside, it’s every bit as excitement-free. Don’t get it wrong, the styling is clean and refreshingly free of any kind of faux ornamentation that can potentially turn it into a mess. But at the same time, there’s no part of the cabin that feels youthful or edgy.
Viewed practically though, the Trax is well-packaged. Getting in and out is easy because of the raised ride height. And then, the visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent, especially the front and sides thanks to the large greenhouse. The seats themselves don’t offer ribcage hugging lateral support, but they’re cozy and comfortable with the driver actually getting the added comfort of an armrest. Those in the back may not have as much headroom as those in front, but fitting two or three adults is quite easy. Hands down though, the Trax’s best aspect is the numerous storage spaces: there are two gloveboxes, a pop-open bin at the top of the center console, and a large pocket in front of the shifter to name a few.
And perhaps the most important aspect for the practical minded is the big load space found under that hatchbacked rear. Even with the seats up, there’s enough room for a week’s worth of groceries and with them folded, it grows even larger, almost matching larger crossovers as a result.
With Chevy pushing the Trax as an urban crossover, the entire week (ten days to be exact) was almost entirely spent crawling in EDSA traffic. Besides the usual home to office commute, the week was also spent visiting various third-wave coffee shops. In this sort of environment, it passes with flying colors with its reasonably quick steering and nimble low-speed behavior. Getting into and out of tight parking spaces is second nature and the excellent sight lines is also useful for darting through downtown traffic.
The powertrain, 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (the segment’s first forced induction engine), is a willing performer, but mostly for practical everyday motoring. With 140 horsepower, it produces the same levels of power as the rivals’ 1.8-liter mill so it’s the 200 Nm of torque that makes the difference. Weighing in at a portly 1,272 kilograms, it takes some coaxing to get the Trax moving, but once it does, it’s reasonably quick. As the speeds pick up though, it starts to lose steam once again. You can make the Trax hold gears longer via a gearlever thumb switch shift override, but it doesn’t really up the excitement notch. Now, if you’re the type of buyer who couldn’t care less about engine response, then you’ll be happy to know that the Trax does return a relatively good 8.76 km/L (average speed 18 km/h).
The ride and handling story is near parallel to that of the powertrain. It isn’t a chuckable corner carver. Instead, it’s a relaxed cruiser with a quiet, controlled ride. The suspension tuning is on the soft side enabling it to be hushed on the highways and smooth over rough roads. This is one crossover that’ll cosset the kids or dogs to sleep.
Whenever a carmaker launches something exciting, they always hope a torrent of new, younger buyers will flow into the brand. It can also be the case with the Trax, but not for the reasons you’d expect. Chevrolet is targeting Millennials or hipsters or both, but instead it manages to score big as a family-oriented vehicle. For those keeping score, the Trax manages to tick all the marks when it comes to practicality, but scores a zero in the young-and-fun column. But that’s not so much of a bad thing. It may be hard to classify what the Chevrolet Trax is, but ultimately one thing is for certain: this is a family car.
2016 Chevrolet Trax 1.4 LT
|Ownership||2016 Chevrolet Trax 1.4 LT LT|
|Vehicle Classification||Sub-compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door Crossover|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||140 @ 4,900-6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||200 @ 1,850-4,900|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,272|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension6||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Solid Disc|
|Tires||Continental ContiPremiumContact 3 215/55 R18 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Rear w/ Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front & Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|