Launched for 2014, the Chevrolet Trax is a strong-selling and competent little people mover that nevertheless remains stuck in the middle of the pack of the ultra-competitive subcompact crossover segment. Compared to adventurous-looking little hatches like the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade, and Honda HR-V, the Chevy’s inoffensive styling has made it look old before its time, and its sluggish 1.4-liter four isn’t likely to raise anyone’s pulse. Our Micah Wright drove a current LT model last August, and concluded:
It isn’t off-road ready and rugged like the Limited Edition Renegade, nor is it swift or a complete crusher in the corners. But no one in their right mind enters a crossover expecting any of these things; even the all-wheel drive version is no competition for the likes of the Renegade, with it’s adjustable differentials, or the Lexus NX 200t F-Sport and it’s controllable handling characteristics. The Trax is a solid entry-level daily driver, and it’s designed to be that way, because GM wants to offer us the most options available for that fantastic price in hopes that we’ll one day trade-up for a Buick Encore or a Cadillac.
Luckily GM has figured out that Chevy buyers deserve a little style and substance too, and at the Chicago Auto Show, it’s introduced some much-needed updates to keep the Trax in the conversation.
The Trax has never had trouble finding buyers; as Chevy points out: “With sales of 63,303 in 2015 – its first full year on the market – the Trax quickly climbed to the second-best-selling small SUV in America.” This 2017 model could prove to be even more successful. Unfortunately, the Ecotec 1.4 remains the only engine option, pumping out 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. So “Fun to drive” probably won’t be the first attribute that comes to mind, but Chevy has made a number of upgrades that could lure undecided shoppers away from a HR-V or Renegade.
From the outside, it bears much more of a family resemblance to the rest of the Chevy lineup. This is no mistake; Chevy says: “The Trax’s fresh, contemporary appearance reflects the modern face of Chevrolet around the globe. A new grille and headlamps echo the styling elements seen in new Chevrolet models such as the Malibu, Cruze and Volt.” And while it’s certainly more contemporary-looking than the current model, it’s what’s on the inside that counts in this segment, and Chevy doesn’t disappoint.
When we drove the current model last summer, we had some qualms about the interior, saying “the Trax has a fair deal of cheap plastic inside of it, which helps keep the price point down, but when it comes to buttons and compartment doors, it’s typically best to throw some stiffer material in the mix to avoid any unnecessary breakage.” With the 2017 model, however, it looks like most of these concerns will be a thing of the past.
Chevy has redesigned the Trax’s cabin around an all-new dashboard, saying: “It interprets Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit design more expressively, with an upper dashboard hood that flows uninterrupted across the panel to enhance the perception of spaciousness.” Front and center is an all-new seven-inch color touchscreen for Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system. It also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and like most other Chevy models, it’s available with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot too. A host of new safety features that issue alerts for blind-spots, lane departure, rear-cross traffic, and forward collision are now available, and a backup camera comes standard.
In spite of its shortcomings, the Trax has been a reliable strong seller for Chevy, and with this new host of upgrades, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing more of them around very soon. It may not be the most exciting crossover on the market, but once the 2017 model goes on sale this fall, it’ll certainly get a lot more compelling.
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