The Trax is a subcompact SUV that provides modern technology at all trims. Beyond this, the Trax offers little to distinguish itself from competitors. The Trax will satisfy basic transportation needs and is conveniently sized for city dwellers. An uninspiring driving experience and lack of comfort make many of its competitors more attractive alternatives. Low price and higher than average reliability and safety ratings make the LS trim a solid choice for a first car for your teen.
The base LS trimmed Trax provides solid value for the price from furnished modern technology, including a rearview camera and smartphone integration. Once you start adding options, the Trax is simply outclassed by much of the competition. The redeeming qualities of the Trax are its stellar reliability and safety ratings. However, there are many better performing alternatives with comparable ratings.
The Trax is powered by GM’s 1.4 Liter EcoTec engine that provides a modest 138 hp @ 4,900rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque @ 1,850rpm. Acceleration from zero to sixty is sluggish, hovering somewhere around ten seconds. The six-speed automatic transmission it’s paired with does little to improve things, as shifts are slow and often over eager to upshift. Ride quality and suspension are neither agile nor comfortable. A disappointment, considering the Buick Encore that shares nearly all the same components has excellent ride quality and comfort. The Trax’s size makes it practical for city driving and parking, but the lackluster performance makes highway driving a frustrating experience. There are much higher performing alternatives available at a similar price, like the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.
Inside the Trax, you’ll find an abundance of hard plastic trim, even in the highest trim. The quality of the materials is a bit disappointing, though average for the price range. However, the MyLink’s app based interface is simple to use and includes smartphone integration like Apple Carplay and Android Auto standard. Also standard is the 4G LTE from OnStar that allows you to connect several devices and stream audio. The controls are well thought out and easy to use. There is plenty of legroom and headroom in the front seats, but the Trax is narrow. Wider passengers may rub shoulders or elbows in the front seats. The rear seat offers adequate room for two adults, provided neither is very tall. Cargo capacity is average for the class with 48.4 cubic feet behind the front seats and 18.7 cubes behind the second row. Overall, the Trax has an average interior, strengthened by a modern, user-friendly infotainment system.
The Trax received a refresh inside and out for 2017. The styling is modern and makes this little SUV appear like a larger SUV. The front features a dual port grille. The upper wears a Chevy bowtie, while the lower is much larger to provide excellent airflow. Higher trims have projector headlights with LED daytime running lights. The rear has flared fenders above the back wheels that give the Trax a wider, more aggressive appearance. The taillights are an updated LED design and the exhaust is tucked under the rear bumper to add to the symmetry of design. The Trax is a handsome little SUV, but there are better-looking subcompacts in our opinion.
The Trax receives excellent reliability ratings from both JD Power and Consumer Reports. The former offers a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5, while the latter offers a 5 out of 5 rating. We rarely see such high reliability ratings, especially in the subcompact SUV segment. The Buick Encore receives similar reliability ratings in a quieter, more refined package. This makes sense since the two share GM parentage and many of the same components. There has been an NHTSA recall for some Trax models for a problem with the airbag ignitor and seatbelt tensioner that can be fixed by your local Chevy dealer at no additional cost with a simple software update. The Trax has 29 Technical Safety Bulletins at this time, far fewer than average. The most serious problems are rather minor: a finicky USB port and electrical issues with the power sunroof. Further research indicated no major known issues with the Trax, we recommend the Trax as a reliable subcompact SUV.
This tiny SUV secures excellent safety ratings for its size. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Trax with perfect scores across the board in crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers all 5-star ratings, except a 4-star rollover rating. We think a class-leading ten airbags has a lot to do with these high ratings in a segment that averages six airbags. OnStar automatic crash notification and roadside assistance reassure drivers during trying times. The brakes are rather average for the class but considerably better than many larger SUVs.
Mazda’s CX-3 provides a better driving experience at a lower cost than the Chevy Trax. The CX-3’s 2.0 Liter non-aspirated engine provides a little more power and much quicker acceleration. In addition to improved performance, this engine is also more efficient. The six-speed automatic transmission is smarter and smoother, though equally eager to upshift for better fuel economy. Handling is far superior in the CX-3, providing excellent steering feedback and composed cornering. The interior of the CX-3 is better designed and the front seats are more supportive. However, the second row in the CX-3 provides less legroom and headroom. Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system has more modern features than Mazda’s infotainment system that lacks 4G LTE connectivity and smartphone integration. The Mazda still has Bluetooth and a standard rearview camera. Cargo capacity is also significantly smaller in the CX-3 than the Trax. The two SUVs received the same safety scores, though the CX-3 received the additional designation of “Top Safety Pick” from the IIHS. The CX-3 lags behind the Chevy in reliability ratings, despite Mazda’s strong reliability reputation. The most common problem we’re aware of is a troublesome air conditioner that often blows warm air. Other than that, mechanical reliability seems comparable. We recommend the CX-3 as a better performing alternative to the Trax unless second row and cargo capacity are necessities. If they are, we recommend you check out the Honda HRV, which still performs better with superior second-row space and capacity.
The base model LS trim costs $21,895 and arrives well-equipped with a rearview camera, MyLink infotainment system, OnStar 4G LTE with hotspot, remote keyless entry, and two USB ports. All-wheel-drive is available on all trims for an additional $1,500. The LT trim starts at $23,795 and adds remote vehicle starter system, projector headlights, LED tail lamps, roof racks, satellite radio, cruise control, skid plate, and availability of advanced driver assistance features. Upgraded leatherette/cloth seats are available for an additional $450. A $450 dollar Convenience Package adds keyless open and start, a 6-way power driver’s seat, the aforementioned leatherette trimmed seats, 2 spare keys, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Sun and Sound Package equips the Trax with a power sliding sunroof and a Bose premium 7-speaker sound system for $1,400. Lastly, a $495 Driver Confidence Package furnished side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, and rear park assist. The Premier trim totals at $26,995 and supplies keyless open and start, fog lamps, Bose premium sound, rear park assist, 18in wheels, auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leatherette trimmed seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and side blind zone alert. A Driver Confidence II Package is available only on the Premier trim and endows the Trax with forward collision alert and lane departure warning. A Cargo Package is available on all trims for $110 that adds cargo mats and a cargo net. Additional options like a bike rack and portable Bluetooth speaker are available at additional cost.