2015 Chevrolet Trax Reviews and Ratings

Utility 4D LT 2WD I4 Turbo

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2015 Chevrolet Trax
Gary Witzenburg

Introduction

The Chevrolet Trax is a small crossover sport-utility launched in late 2012 in Mexico and Canada as a 2013 model, and for 2015 Chevrolet Trax has been introduced to the U.S. Based on the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic’s architecture, it’s a more affordable Chevy version of the Buick Encore sharing the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

Trax is in the same class as Kia Soul, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Mazda CX-3. We think this pleasant-driving blend of small-car agility and efficiency with CUV utility (up to 48.4 cu. ft. of easy-access cargo space) will more than hold its own.

It offers a high level of connectivity and some class-exclusive features, including standard Chevy MyLink with a seven-inch color touch screen, available OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, and even (for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users) Siri Eyes Free. Remote keyless entry, electric power steering, a 60/40 split fold-flat rear seat, a fold-down front passenger seat (to extend the cargo floor), USB and auxiliary ports and a plethora of handy storage spaces are standard, while remote start, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a BringGo navigation app and all-wheel drive is available. It also boasts 10 standard air bags, a standard rearview camera and available rear park assist.

While the 2015 Trax boasts attractive 26-mpg city and 34 highway EPA fuel economy ratings, its Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 engine delivers a modest (SAE-certified) 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. This is sufficient around town but barely adequate for highway trips with more than one or two passengers and cargo. The six-speed automatic transmission, with TAPShift manual control on the floor-mounted gear lever, has a low first gear for good low-end response and a tall overdrive top gear to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce engine noise at highway speeds.

Given the Trax’s small size, its relatively long 100.6-inch wheelbase, wide stance (60.6-inch front and rear tracks) and strong structure contribute to a confident, tied-down handling feel and a pleasingly smooth, quiet ride in most conditions. Its suspension is MacPherson struts with coil springs, and a large stabilizer bar in front and a compound-crank (torsion beam) linkage with gas-charged twin-tube shocks in back, and its efficiency-enhancing column-mounted, variable-effort electric power steering delivers fairly precise feel. Standard wheels are 16-inch steel on base LS models, 16-inch aluminum on mid-range LTs and 18-inch aluminum on range-topping LTZs.

Standard active (accident-avoidance) safety features include StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation, ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist and a rearview camera. The 10 standard air bags are driver and front-passenger frontal, driver and front-passenger knee and both thorax and side curtain bags for front and rear occupants. On top of all this is GM’s exclusive OnStar technology with Advanced Crash Response System, emergency assistance and more. Importantly, both Trax and platform-mate Buick Encore recently earned Good scores in all categories of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, including the very tough small overlap test that simulates a collision with another vehicle or object (like a utility pole or tree) in which a narrow section of the frontal area is impacted.

We’ll report on other new entries in this suddenly-hot segment as we drive them, but despite needing a bit more power in some situations, this 2015 Chevy Trax will likely be a strong contender.

Model Lineup

The base LS model comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning with air filtration, power windows and locks, tilt/telescopic steering column, steering wheel audio controls, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, remote keyless entry, MyLink connectivity with 7-inch diagonal touch screen, Gen 10 OnStar with available 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot, intermittent rear-window wiper, 16-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist, automatic on/off halogen headlamps and a compact spare tire.

The LT upgrades to deluxe cloth upholstery and adds SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three-month trial subscription), USB and Auxiliary inputs, remote start, cruise control, power heated outside mirrors, driver information center, a 110-Volt power outlet, 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.

The LTZ adds leatherette seating, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 6-way power driver seat, heated front seats, Bose Premium Audio, rear park assist, 18-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps.

LT-model options are the LT Plus Package ($495), which brings a six-way power driver seat, deluxe cloth/leatherette trim, leather-wrap steering wheel and rear park assist, and a $1,400 Sun and Sound Package that includes a sunroof and Bose Premium Audio. The only available LTZ-model option is a $900 sunroof.

Safety features include 10 standard airbags (dual frontal, front knee, front and rear side-curtain and side-impact), Stabilitrak stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation, ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist, a rearview camera, daytime running lamps, theft alarm, theft deterrent system and GM OnStar with Advanced Crash Response System, emergency assistance and more.

Walkaround

When we first saw the same-size Buick Encore a couple years ago, we thought it looked a little mal-proportioned, like someone had squeezed a compact car in a vice until its front and back ends smushed closer together and its roof popped up. But that look has grown on us, and the Encore has proven popular with the buying public. So this Chevrolet version, with its signature dual-port grille, prominent bowtie emblem, swept-back headlamps, taught body lines, pronounced wheel arches and vertical tail lamps flanking its tailgate, made a much better initial impression. Enhancing its sporty CUV visual credibility despite its modest size are available front fog lamps and simulated skid plates front and rear, while top-of-the-line LTZ models fill those wheel arches with 18-inch alloy wheels.

Interior

The Chevy Trax cabin is a couple levels less luxurious than its platform-mate Buick Encore’s. Its dual-cockpit dash houses a seven-inch, high-resolution central color display for its standard MyLink voice-activated infotainment system with a standard rearview camera and available SiriusXM satellite radio. Base LS models have cloth seating, while mid-range LTs get deluxe cloth or available cloth/leatherette, and top-of-the-line LTZs offer full leatherette trim. The small-diameter, thick-rimmed steering wheel is leather-wrapped on LTZ models and on LTs with an optional LT Plus Package.

There is ample storage in all four doors, plus pockets in the seatbacks, bins under the rear load floor and a hidden storage drawer under the front passenger seat. The large glovebox is supplemented by a pop-open bin above it (which houses the USB and Aux. ports), another above the central vent and a fourth small compartment left of the steering wheel. The center console contains no fewer than four cup holders, the center two connected by a small bin, but there’s no storage box. Cargo capacity is 18.7 cu. ft. behind the 60/40 flat-folding rear seat (which has a fold-down armrest with its own two cup holders) and 48.4 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded flat. Lift-over is conveniently low, and the front passenger seat also folds flat to accommodate items up to eight feet long.

Features and controls are a mixed bag. The very basic instrument cluster contains just a sporty tachometer dial, a digital speedometer, graphic fuel gauge, odometer/trip odometer, compass heading and gear selection. The driver information center toggles through a trip timer, average speed, average fuel economy and distance to empty. There is no available navigation system, but those with smart phones can link with an available BringGo navigation app, then view and control it through the standard MyLink touch screen. The right side of the home page displays time, date and outside temperature, and additional available smartphone apps include Pandora, Stitcher and TuneIn. The audio system has touch buttons for volume and tuning and steering-wheel volume and seek buttons, but no knobs. By contrast, the climate system has nice, large knobs for temperature, fan and mode.

Driving Impressions

We like the surprisingly nice Buick Encore subcompact crossover, and we generally like this lower-priced Chevy version, too. Just not quite as much. It shares the Encore’s only powertrain, a barely adequate turbocharged 1.4-liter four driving its front wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox, with the affordable option of all-wheel drive. Lightly loaded around town, or on fairly flat highways, it feels peppy enough despite its unimpressive 9.5-second 0-60 mph acceleration performance, but toting your family and its gear uphill, you’ll wish for more. This willing little engine does fine in the Chevy Sonic subcompact on which the Trax is based, and even better in the tiny Chevy Spark, but given its crossover carrying capability, the Trax really needs at least the option of more power.

We drove a line-topping LTZ in mostly urban driving at the late-2014 media launch, then a mid-level LT for several days at home. We enjoyed their responsive steering, crisp handling, strong, reliable braking and pleasingly smooth, quiet ride (a bit stiffer than the luxury Encore) in all but the roughest road conditions. The Trax drives like a taller, slightly heavier Sonic, which is generally a good thing. There are no steering wheel shift paddles, but the six-speed automatic can be manually shifted with up/down toggle buttons on the shift handle. Our local and hard-test driving averaged just 24 mpg, but most drivers should see about 26 mpg in town and 30 or better in real-world highway driving.

Our test vehicle’s front bucket seats were comfortable and supportive and looked good in their premium cloth and leatherette trim, but the driver-side power adjustments did not include seatback angle (aka rake). Instead, you have to reach way back and down between the seat cushion and belt anchor to find and use the manual lever. We often wonder why, given a choice of one or the other, most automakers offer power fore-aft adjustment but manual rake, instead of the other way around. Front legroom is good thanks to ample front-seat travel, but rear leg- and knee room can be tight behind long-legged front-seat occupants. Somewhat disappointingly, the only soft-touch materials in even the LTZ cabin is on the armrests. Everything else is attractive, but hard, grained plastic.

Summary

Now that Chevrolet’s global subcompact crossover Trax has arrived at U.S. Chevy dealers, it will take on a growing list of strong competitors that includes such established players as the Kia Soul, MINI Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Nissan Juke and such fellow new-for-2015 entries as Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3. Arguably attractive, well-connected, fuel efficient, easy to park and bordering on fun to drive, with available all-wheel drive and ample cargo capacity, it’s essentially a taller, roomier Chevy Sonic, which is mostly a good thing. We think it’s more than competitive and well worth a look and a test drive despite its marginally powerful engine.

Model as tested
Chevrolet Trax LT FWD ($23,320)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Bupyeong, South Korea; San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Destination charge
875
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
Price as tested
24,195
Options as tested
LT Plus package ($495) includes six-way power driver seat, deluxe cloth/leatherette trim, leather wrap steering wheel, rear park assist

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
LS FWD ($20,995); LS AWD ($22,575); LT FWD ($23,320); LT AWD ($24,820); LTZ FWD ($25,905); LTZ AWD ($27,405);
Safety equipment (standard)
Ten airbags (dual frontal, front knee, front and rear side-curtain and side-impact), Stabilitrak stability control with traction control and rollover mitigation, ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist, rearview camera, daytime running lamps, theft alarm, theft deterrent system and GM OnStar with Advanced Crash Response System and emergency assistance.
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
1.4-liter dohc 16-valve turbocharged I-4
Transmissions
6-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
deluxe cloth upholstery, air conditioning with air filtration system, power windows, mirrors and locks, tilt/telescopic steering column, steering wheel phone and audio controls, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, remote keyless entry, MyLink connectivity with 7-inch diagonal touch screen, Gen 10 OnStar with available 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot, intermittent rear-window wiper, automatic on/off halogen headlamps, compact spare tire, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three-month trial subscription), USB and Aux. inputs, remote start, cruise control, heated outside mirrors, driver information center, 110-Volt power outlet, 16-inch alloy wheels, hill-start assist and roof rails.

Engine & Transmission
Engine
1.4-liter dohc 16-valve turbocharged I-4
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
138 @ 4900
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
26/34
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/drum with ABS, electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist
Suspension, front
MacPherson strut with coil-over spring and stabilizer bar
Tires
P205/70R16
Suspension, rear
torsion beam with coil springs and twin-tube shock absorbers

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
39.6/51.7/40.8
Head/hip/leg room, rear
38.8/50.2/35.7

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
48.4
Wheelbase
100.6
Length/width/height
168.5/69.9/65.9
Turning circle
36.7
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
N/A
Track, front/rear
60.6/60.6
Ground clearance
6.2
Curb weight
2805


J.D. Power Rating
Overall Quality 4 / 5
Overall Quality - Mechanical
4 / 5
Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
4 / 5
Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
4 / 5
Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
3 / 5
Overall Quality - Design
4 / 5
Powertrain Quality - Design
4 / 5
Body & Interior Quality - Design
5 / 5
Features & Accessories Quality - Design
3 / 5

Overall Dependability 4 / 5
Powertrain Dependability
5 / 5
Body & Interior Dependability
4 / 5
Feature & Accessory Dependability
4 / 5

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J.D. Power Rating Legend
Among the Best
5 / 5
Better than Most
4 / 5
About Average
3 / 5
The Rest
2 / 5

* The J.D. Power Ratings are calculated based on the range between the car manufacturer or car model with the highest score and the car manufacturer or car model with the lowest score. J.D. Power generates a rating of a five, four, three, or two. If there is insufficient data to calculate a rating, “Not Available” is used in its place.

J.D. Power Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power awards, visit the Car Ratings page to learn more about awards and ratings.