ROAD TEST

Chevrolet Trax review

The poster child for instant obsolescence

Published: August 27, 2015 06:00 AM

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Chevy’s attempt to create a cute sport ute is an exercise in mediocrity—one that suffers from poor performance and cheap interior materials at a price that should buy a lot more car.

The Chevrolet Trax is meant to attract the young and young at heart. Originally developed for low-priced overseas markets, it hasn’t made the leap to U.S. buyers, which makes this plodding crossover a disposable appliance.

Standing tall, the Trax is easy to get in and out. But once squished inside its unfriendly confines, the driver is wedged between a too-close left footrest and an intrusive center console. You may even rub elbows with a front passenger. The seats may as well be carved from wood—a stiff and poorly padded cushion with overly firm side bolsters.

Given the Trax’s small exterior silhouette, rear-seat accommodations are surprisingly roomy, with adequate leg and head room for two adults.

Blue stitching and patterned fabric did little to dress up the gloomy interior of our $25,560 LT edition. The cabin materials are the stuff of cost-cutting memorandums. The design of the instrument cluster is as dated as a 1980s calculator watch. And the Trax actually stank, with an off-putting chemical odor that lingered for several months. So much for that new-car smell.

The touch-screen infotainment system lacks any helpful buttons or knobs, is slow to react, and has microscopic onscreen fonts.

Chevrolet customers deserve better than the Trax’s strained 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This gruff powerplant delivers glacial acceleration for freeway on-ramps or passing. The reluctant automatic transmission harshly punctuates shifts with engine noise. Simply put, the Trax is tiresome to drive.

Although neither sporty nor nimble, it is secure and maneuverable—evidenced by the high speeds in our accident avoidance test. But the Trax converts even smooth asphalt into a percussion that insistently communicates that you should have bought a different car.

Fuel economy is respectable at 25 mpg overall. For the sacrifices that the Trax demands, however, it’s fair to expect better fuel efficiency.

Advanced electronic safety gear is unavailable, and the options list is sparse. That said, the Trax offers a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.

Ultimately, the Chevrolet Trax provides a disappointing experience that exudes cheapness. Larger, more refined, and better-driving SUVs are available for only a few hundred dollars more.

Read our complete Chevrolet Trax road test.

Highs Easy to park, fuel economy
Lows Acceleration, ride, engine noise, rear visibility, front seats, touch-screen radio
Powertrain 138-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cyl.; 6-speed transmission; all-wheel drive
Fuel 25 mpg
Price $20,995-$27,405
Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the October 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

 


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