Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Chevy Trax Struggles to Beat the 2020 Kia Sportage

The subcompact-SUV class is crowded these days. In this segment, an SUV must really stand out from the competition to sell well. With a comfortable cabin and a healthy list of standard features, the 2020 Chevy Trax has a lot to offer. But is it enough to compete with rivals such as the 2020 Kia Sportage?

The Sportage knows how to distinguish itself. With bold styling, impressive driving dynamics, and an appealing, user-friendly interior, it looks like it costs a lot more than it does. 

So, does the 2020 Chevy Trax have what it takes to compete with the 2020 Kia Sportage?

The 2020 Chevy Trax

The 2020 Chevy Trax doesn’t do anything wrong per se. 

According to Car and Driver, this little SUV packs plenty of passenger space, particularly headroom, in its comfortable cabin. Its outward visibility is outstanding. However, the interior lacks pizzazz, and mediocre materials on the exterior and interior don’t help.

The Trax offers a nice selection of standard infotainment features. A seven-inch touchscreen comes standard across the lineup, and it works well. Also, expect standard smartphone-integration features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. That’s a good thing because the Trax doesn’t come with its own navigation system. But it offers a Wi-Fi hotspot with a free trial.

The 2020 Chevy Trax comes in a few new color choices, but it offers no other changes from previous model years. And that’s a shame because a powertrain boost might’ve made this little SUV a more viable competitor.

The Trax’s engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that gets a paltry 138 hp. It doesn’t offer an effortless ride, and, yes, it buzzes. For driving around town or on calm country roads, it gets the job done. But it lacks the punch needed on the highway. Even with the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, it offers less-than-dynamic acceleration and performance.

The 2020 Kia Sportage

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The 2020 Kia Sportage looks sharp, offers a classy cabin, and boasts some pretty dynamic driving chops. But it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t offer an abundance of cargo space, its styling might not please everyone, and you have to pay more to get the jazzy turbocharged model.

But according to the Car and Driver, the 2020 Sportage a lot of fun to drive. SUVs in its class get better gas mileage, but the Sportage stands out as refined and engaging.  

For the 2020 model year, the Sportage saw a few cosmetic updates and more standard and optional features. The subtle styling cues give the 2020 model a more aggressive look. The Sportage also got a new S trim level and a ton of great interior content. 

All Sportage trims have an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. And the air-vent surrounds and steering wheel were updated. Kia also added a few more driver assists, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, automatic high-beams, driver-attention alerts, lane-keeping assist, and pedestrian detection.

The base model is front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional across the lineup. The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that provides 181 hp. The SX Turbo models feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s quick at 240 hp. 

Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. They provide dynamic handling and a spirited driving experience you might not expect.

Which subcompact crossover does it better?

The 2020 Kia Sportage has an advantage over the 2020 Chevy Trax in a couple of key areas. 

With an upscale vibe, more desirable materials, and plenty of useful features, the Sportage offers a better cabin than the Trax. You can also get navigation with the Sportage. And one big advantage: The Sportage’s cabin is much quieter. 

Though the Chevy Trax has more cargo space and better fuel economy than Sportage, its anemic powertrain leaves much to be desired. It would be subpar even if the Sportage offered a decent powertrain. But either Sportage powertrain, especially the one with the turbocharged engine, is above-average in the class and boasts unexpectedly refined driving manners.