December 22, 2012
Note: We are getting a version of this vehicle here in the United States (the Buick Encore).
Ottawa, ON – If you didn’t attend the Paris Motor Show in September you might not know what the Chevrolet Trax is. I will assume that you did not. GM chose the Paris Motor Show to reveal the new Chevy Trax because it will not be sold in the USA, which explains why we haven’t heard much about it this fall. The Chevy Trax is a new ultra-compact SUV, or CUV (Crossover) if you prefer, that will be built in Mexico and sold in more the 140 markets worldwide. Think Pontiac Vibe on steroids.
Apparently gas prices in the States haven’t risen enough yet to persuade anyone to contemplate downsizing this much.
Compared to the Chevrolet Equinox, the Chevy Trax is 495 mm (19.5 in.) shorter in overall length and 76 mm (3 in.) narrower, but only 25 mm (1 in.) shorter in height. It is short and tall. It is even shorter and taller than the old Vibe AWD—85 mm (3.3 in) shorter and 58.4 mm (2.3 in.) taller.
Chevrolet marketing has targeted the Hyundai Tucson as a key competitor, but that vehicle is 160 mm longer (more than six inches), 40 mm (1.6 in.) wider and the same height. Simply put, it is bigger. And not surprisingly, 160 mm here and 60 mm there adds up to a whole lot more interior space; the Chevy Trax has a cargo volume with the rear seats folded of 1,371 L (48.4 cu. ft.) while the Tucson has 1,580 L (55.7 cu. ft.), again with the rear seat folded.
Not a very good comparison and not unexpected that the Chevy Trax will have a lower advertised starting price ($18,495) than the Tucson ($19,999). But for $1,500 more that larger base Hyundai Tucson model comes with standard air conditioning, which the Trax does not have.
I wouldn’t harp on the Trax/Tucson comparison except the Chevy marketing people more or less invited us to take a closer look at what they term is their key competitor. The Trax may be one of the smallest SUVs on the market, but with the Tucson in its sights, GM is thinking big, or dreaming big. It is more likely that buyers will cross-shop the all-wheel-drive small/tall wagon category – Toyota Matrix, Suzuki SX4 hatch, Nissan Juke, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Mitsubishi RVR, and even the Mini Countryman. Amongst this group, the Trax compares well on both features and price.
The Trax makes the best of its diminutive size with seating for five passengers and enough cargo space to not embarrass itself. Surprisingly, and again because of its tall and short dimensions, the Trax looks much larger, more substantial, with a wide stance, rising belt line and a GM corporate nose that actually looks like it belongs on the vehicle. Its prominent hood and large front overhang make up for its short 2,555 mm (100.6 in.) wheelbase.
Whereas the old Pontiac Vibe, even with all-wheel drive, looked like a compact car, the Trax has all the physical attributes of today’s popular compact SUVs/CUVs. It belongs in the company of the Tucson and the long list of compact competitors in the segment. If size matters, buyers should take a look at this tiny truckster.
Naturally, one sits up high in the Trax. Although getting into the front seat is more like sliding onto a bar stool than sitting down in a car, the high and upright driving position provides incomparable ease of entry and excellent visibility in all directions. The Trax is high heel–friendly and short skirt–safe, but mobility challenged people will also appreciate the ease of entry.
The power-adjustable driver’s seat in our test vehicle, combined with tilt and telescopic steering, made it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The dash is reminiscent of the digital displays in the Sonic and Spark and interior treatments have been designed to appeal to the young and largely female target buyer.
The passenger compartment feels narrow and, relatively speaking, it is. There is only one barely functional armrest on the driver’s seat. The rear seat will hold three passengers, but if that is your assigned seating, you won’t be happy. Call it a four-plus-one or a five-seater-in-a-pinch, it is couples and singles who will best appreciate the Trax. A convenient rear seat armrest is available when travelling with three or four. And the centre console will hold four one-litre containers – if you ever have the need.
With a base price of $18,495 the Trax will appeal to the budget conscious. For that entry fee, the Trax LS comes with front-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, power windows with driver express up and down, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth for telephone, steering wheel–mounted audio controls, power lumbar support on both front seats, four-speaker sound system with AM/FM/USB and auxiliary input, and rear cargo organizer.
Standard safety features include ten airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), Stabilitrak stability control, traction control and available all-wheel drive.
The Trax is powered by the 1.4L turbocharged engine that is optionally available with the Sonic and Cruze. It produces 138 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,850 rpm. With such strong torque down low, the Trax feels much more powerful than it is, providing good acceleration from a standing start. But it also runs out of steam at a relatively low rpm, making passing maneuvers an exercise in planning. Almost any kind of an incline seemed to induce a downshift from the six-speed automatic transmission. One can only assume that the six-speed manual would keep your right arm busy.
Full article at link.