In the ever expanding world of automotive sales, it seems that every day there is another car or truck vying for a piece of the market. Some months it seems like there are new sports sedans every day, some times it’s full sized trucks, sometimes it seems like there’s three more 600-horsepower sports cars on the market. back in 2015, there was yet another contender in the very new, but very quickly expanding, mini-SUV segment. This class already includes such vehicles as the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, and the Buick Encore. This edition comes from Buick’s sister company, Chevrolet. It seems GM felt the Encore wasn’t enough to represent the General, and perhaps they were right. Chevy has a bit more name recognition among younger buyers despite General Motor’s recent attempts at renovating Buick’s image with commercials starring a good looking man partying it up at sophisticated locales with equally attractive young women commenting on the man and his exciting ride that they are surprised to find out is, in fact, a Buick. So as a little insurance, GM release what was essentially a rebadged Encore in a Chevy package, called the Chevy Trax.
This wasn’t new territory, as they’ve been selling twin models of cars under different badges for decades. The Camaro/Firebird twins are the most famous pair, but there is no shortage of examples throughout history. This time around, however, the Trax is in some ways better, and worse, than its kissing cousin. In its own right, the Trax offers what seems to be all the rage in the auto industry these days, small economical transportation that comes with higher ground clearance. Call it American insecurities, or Soccer-Mom Syndrome, but since the 1990s, the US has been obsessed with the SUV. And while there was a hiatus on big trucks and SUVs when gas prices shot up to $4+ per gallon—we have seen a rise of the SUV one more time. This time, though, it seems like people have been at least been smart enough to focus on fuel economy, now that there is another spike. The Trax is a perfect example of that thinking. It is essentially a Chevy Sonic, but taller.
While looking small on the outside, the Chevy Trax does look fairly aggressive compared to some of its competitors. Flared fenders and the just-right stance give the impression that the Trax can handle whatever you have in mind, despite its diminutive stature. Road trip? The little Chevy does offer quite a bit of space for people and cargo inside, to the tune of 48.4 cubic feet, and, thanks to a rear seat that can fold 60/40 and a front passenger seat that can fold completely down, there is plenty of ways to fit anything from a drum set to a kayak in there. It has large doors, and even allows multiple six-foot humans to occupy the car at the same time comfortably. The interior of the Trax is pedestrian, but does come with some fun optional features. A rear-vision camera, OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in WiFi hotspot, 10 standard air bags, cruise control, 6-way power driver seat, steering wheel-mounted audio and phone controls, remote start, even heated front seats are optional. The infotainment system is straight from the Chevy Sonic, and very slow to respond, which will no doubt irritate plenty of customers that are used to having their iPhone 6S almost read their mind.
Using a 1.4-liter turbocharged and intercooled DOHC inline-4-cylinder engine, the Trax will draw positive marks for fuel economy—26/34 city/highway mpg which is pretty good for any SUV. But with only 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, the Chevy Trax does suffer a bit getting its 3,296 pound heft up to speed. Floor the Trax and you will get from 0–60 mph in a painfully slow 9.4 seconds, through the quarter mile in 17.2 seconds @ 80 mph, on to 100 mph in an almost upsetting 33.6 seconds, and finally topping out at a drag-limited 117 mph top speed. In terms of lateral acceleration, the Trax hits a reasonable 0.79 g, and brakes from 70–0 mph in a very good 166 feet. The little SUV has a fun factor while driving it that doesn’t show up in the numbers. It feels small and light and ready to jump from its parking spot. The only problem is that even mashing the pedal brings about an asthmatic lackluster surge that really hurts the personality of the Trax. You want to like it, but with such a glaring fault, its hard to truly embrace it. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to your choice of four wheels or the front two. The AWD features isn’t full-time, and does downgrade to only FWD when it deems necessary to help keep fuel economy up.
There are three models you may come across while searching for a used Trax. The LS is the most basic of the bunch and comes with few features. it is the bargain basement of the bunch, and will get you most of the basics, but not much more than that. Next up is the LT which will get you things like aluminum wheels, a roof rack, cruise control, remote start, among other things. The top-end Trax is the LTZ and will get you all of the LT options and more. Rear Park Assist, bigger 18-inch wheels, a Bose premium sound system, fog lamps, and body color door handles with a chrome strip all help the top-of-the-line model stand out from its siblings. For 2016, however, Chevy did offer a special edition called the Midnight Edition Trax that was a very dark offering, literally. 18-inch black alloy wheels, Black Granite Metallic paint, black belt line moldings, black door handles, two-tone grey and black interior, and, of course, black floor mats.
Despite its anemic power, the Trax does seem to offer decent value and would make a good commuter. You can pick up a used Chevy Trax anywhere from $11k-$25k depending on mileage and condition. With skyrocketing gas prices buying a used Chevy Trax may just be what you need to fulfill your SUV needs and not kill your wallet when you fill up. How Reliable Is the used Chevy Trax? The Trax has average reliability, earning a score of three out of five from J.D. Power. Both the Trax and It’s twin, the Buick Encore could last for 200,000 miles or more if it’s well-taken care of. This SUV has received an award for its dependability, so you can rely on it to serve you well for years to come.