By: Harvey Shwartz

The compact sport utility vehicle segment is the hottest selling slice of the marketplace pie right now.  To take advantage of this fact Chevrolet has tossed its hat into the mix and hopes to reap the rewards.  Last year the 2014 Buick Encore led the way and now the Bowtie is competing against the compact CUVs from the other manufacturers.  It is rolling into dealerships right now for active young families, singles and couples with unique Chevy good looks, versatility, technology and maneuverability.   I tested the ‘top-of-the-line’ LTZ trim and was impressed but I also had some issues on the inside.

When you are late to the party you need to make up for lost time and you better be bringing something special to move prospective buyers into your showroom.  Chevy has completed a fairly good job of doing that but it really doesn’t push the competition away.

The all-new Chevy Trax is loaded with technology that city dwellers depend on for their connected lifestyles-including 4G LTE Wi-Fi and Siri Eyes Free-but the Trax is also an efficient and highly maneuverable small CUV on the street and highway.  The all-new Trax shines in versatility and technology highlighted with seating for up to five with up to eight seating/cargo-carrying configurations; a 60/40-split, flat folding rear seat and a fold-flat front passenger seat that  combine to allow storage of long items such as skis or a surfboard, up to 8-feet long; up to 48 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded-and 18.7 cubic feet of storage space behind the split-folding rear seatbacks, more than the Nissan Juke, Kia Soul and the Jeep Renegade; a segment-leading 15 interior storage compartments including upper and lower storage in each door, upper and lower glove box, upper and lower center stack, left and right of the steering wheel; standard and dealer-optional cargo management features that include a rigid, removable cargo security cover and a storage area under the rear cargo floor, and a dealer optional accessory items that include a collapsible cargo organizer and cargo net.  There is a space for everything that I would like to be carrying on my daily or long trips.

Trax technology is also excellent and includes a standard Chevrolet MyLink Infotainment system with a 7-inch diagonal color touch screen that includes a next-generation MyLink system that is easy, intuitive and operates basic functions and is highly customizable and capable of linking devices such as a smartphone and MP3 players.  The system includes Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phone, as well as Pandora, TuneIn and Stitcher; GM’s fabulous OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in WiFi hotspot is also standard and provides a mobile hub for drivers and passengers to stay connected-allowing the connection of multiple personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets of high-speed wireless Internet.  The hotspot is on whenever the vehicle is on and comes with a three-month/three gigabyte data trial (whichever comes first) after which you must purchase additional data; Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6, iOS 7 and iOS 8 users enhance connectivity and convenience that enables voice-controlled connectivity so customers can keep phones stored and their hands on the wheel.  Trax is the first vehicle in its class to offer Siri Eyes Free; standard USB port with MP3 playback/iPod music device support enables users to upload photos and videos on the MyLink screen; optional BringGo navigation app and Sirius XM satellite radio brings smartphone-enables navigation that can be displayed on the large MyLink screen-including using the touch screen to control the navigation.  Sirius XM satellite radio is standard on the LT and LTZ model that I am testing and for 3-months of trial service.  Sirius XM Travel Link and Tune Select are also optional for an additional cost.  The all-new Chevy Trax is fully connected for anyone with a load of electronic devices for up-to-date connectivity and personal enjoyment.

The all-new Trax LTZ is pure Chevy in styling.  The front fascia shows the signature Chevy grille with chrome surround and horizontal bars.  The lower intake brings air to the turbo’s intercooler.  The power-dome hood adds an aggressive touch while the halogen headlamps are set in large openings with foglamps down below at the corners highlighted with chrome accents.  At the bottom is a wide metallic accent to make the front more aggressive.  My test Orange Rock Metallic paint scheme features a full-perimeter black contrasting lower bodykit.  The profile shows steeply raked windshield A-pillars, flared fenders, a chrome strip at the beltline, aero-styled remote/heated sideview mirrors, chrome finished door handles, lower side extensions and a black finished short spoiler at the end of the roof. 

The LTZ also comes with aluminum roofrails to expand its cargo carrying capacity.  Out the rear is a liftgate that opens to 6-feet/3-inches high for easy access, large wraparound lamp clusters, a chrome strip above the license plate and a large black bumper with a faux metallic diffuser in the center.  Filling the wheelwells of my Trax LTZ model are standard 18X7 inch alloy wheels wrapped with Continental 215/55R18 inch ContiProContact all-season radial tires for a smooth, quiet ride with excellent traction and grip. The look is tight and streamlined with just the right amount of bling on the LTZ model to separate the Trax from the other manufacturers compact CUVs.

Trax is powered by an Ecotec 1.4 liter turbocharged DOHC, all-aluminum inline 4-cylinder engine featuring continuously cam phasing on the intake-exhaust for excellent low-end torque.  It pumps out 138hp at 4,900rpm and 148 lb.ft. of torque between 1,850 and 4,900rpm.  The wide rpm range for the maximum torque helps Trax deliver a more confident driving experience for me with a stronger feeling of power across the rpm band and it also contributes to the Trax’s EPA-estimated 26mpg/city and 34mpg/highway fuel ratings.  This potent engine is mated to a standard 6T40 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting from the stick shifter’s top-side.  Gear changes are quick and smooth.  The transmission is also available with an AWD system that enhances the driving experience and confidence in slippery conditions.  It automatically engages seamlessly splitting torque between the front and rear wheels, when required for better traction and handling.  I would recommend the AWD system in cold, snowy climates.  

The all-new Chevy Trax is sized just right for excellent maneuverability with a 100.6 inch wheelbase and a wide 60.6 inch front/rear track that gives it a more planted stance for my confident driving.  The strut-type front suspension is used with coil springs, a large stabilizer bar and side-load-compensated front strut modules-a combination that delivers exceptional ride comfort with a sporty and direct responsive to my inputs. 

Turn is was excellent when going through curving roads.  The rear is a compound crank (torsion beam) setup with a double-wall, tubular V-shape beam profile and gas-charged twin-tube shocks that combine all the advantages of a conventional torsion beam axle including minimal space requirements with low weight and consistent camber control.  Noise-dampening urethane spring isolators damper noise, vibration and harshness on rough and smooth road surfaces. 

Giving the all-new Chevy Trax even more riding confidence is the new direct-acting, fuel-saving column-mounted electric power-assisted rack & pinion steering system.  It is designed to complement Trax’s balance of responsiveness and comfort, the ESP feel is light yet direct with excellent feel for the road with no slush.  It also enhances the feeling of maneuverability-particularly at low speeds and during parking.

Slowing the all-new Chevy Trax down from speed are very competent brakes.  The FWD model comes with 11.8 inch vented discs clamped with large, single-piston calipers and 9 inch drums in the rear. 





The AWD models come with the same front discs but are upgraded with 10.6 inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers.  Standard ABS/Traction Control/ESC with rollover mitigation all work together to keep me in control of my intended direction during hard braking and when braking on wet or slick pavement.  I was impressed with the turbocharged power, confident handling and pleasurable driving experience when at the wheel of the all-new Chevy Trax.

The cabin is roomy and nicely laid out but I do have a question about the materials used.  There is plenty of chrome and metallic trim but all of the touch points are hard to the touch.  In LTZ trim I was let down that there wasn’t anything soft that would give the cabin a better overall look and feel.  Also, I found that there was just one pull-down armrest up front.  I think that dual pull-down armrests would enhance the quality of the cabin.  I did like the 3-spoke, leather-wrapped/tilt/telescopic steering wheel and instrument cluster with a combination of analog tachometer and LED speedometer with smaller LEDs showing fuel, miles to empty, compass direction and trip computer readouts.  There is no center storage box but Chevy put in four cupholders that can be used for additional storage.  The rear 60/40-split flat folding rear seat has a pull-down armrest with dual cupholders.  Standard features in the LTZ trim Trax not mentioned above includes leatherette seat trim with front 6-way power driver bucket seat with power lumbar support and a manual front passenger seat, power windows with driver’s-side express up/down, front passenger seat under storage, climate control with air-filtration, lighted front vanity mirrors, dual map lights, grab handles at each door, self-dimming rearview mirror, map pockets behind each front bucket seat, cargo security cover, auxiliary 12-volt outlet, power door locks, cruise control, driver/front passenger heated seats, front/rear wipers/washers, 110-volt power outlet, automatic headlamps, USB port, front/rear floor mats, rear seat lamp, cargo lamp and a hand brake with chrome button.  Connectivity features in the LTZ trim includes Chevy MyLink radio, 7 inch diagonal color touch screen, AM/FM stereo by Bose with 6-Bose speakers, XM satellite radio, OnStar with Directions/Connections/Automatic Crash Response/Turn-by-Turn Navigation, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot and OnStar remote link App.

Standard safety features include 10-total airbags, frontal/knee for driver/front-passenger, side-impact seat-mounted airbags, head curtain front & rear outboard seating positions, remote keyless entry, 5-3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, remote vehicle start, rear door child safety locks, LATCH system for child seats, StabiliTrak-stability control, daytime running lights, Rear Park Assist with rearview camera, tire pressure monitor, content theft deterrent system, front/rear crumple zones and steel beam in each door.

Chevy is serious about breaking into the booming compact CUV segment and the all-new 2015 Trax is a good start.  Maybe Chevy can add some soft-to-the-touch interior materials to bring it in a better position for sales in the new market.



Wheelbase: 100.6 inches

Overall length: 168.5 inches

Overall width: 69.9 inches

Overall height: 65.9 inches

Track: f/r-60.6/60.6 inches

Curb weight: 3,186 pounds

Minimum ground clearance: 6.2 inches

Headroom: f/r-39.6/38.8 inches

Legroom: f/r-40.8/35.7 inches

Passenger volume: 92.8 cu.ft.

Cargo volume: 18.7 behind the rear seat/48.4 cu.ft. rear seats folded

Fuel tank: 14 gallons

Turning circle: 36.7 feet

EPA mileage: 26mpg/city, 34mpg/highway

Price: $25,030.00 LTZ