The new 2015 Chevrolet Trax should already be familiar to our readers in the UK and Australia. The compact crossover has been available globally since 2013 -- in Australia, it's known as the Holden Trax -- but 2015 marks the first appearance of the model in the US market. Was it worth the wait?
After a week behind the wheel of a base 2015 Chevrolet Trax LS FWD, I found that the Trax is a car that sets a realistic bar for its attainable price and then hops handily over it.
1.4-liter turbocharged engine
The compact Trax is powered by an even more compact 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine borrowed from Chevy's Sonic Turbo. Power is stated at 138 horses and torque at 148 pound-feet. That torque gets passed through a six-speed automatic transmission on its way to the front-wheel contact patches.
The little 1.4-liter isn't as wimpy as you might be thinking. It develops its 148 pound-feet fairly low in the tachometer's swing, which gives it pretty good tip-in responsiveness and keeps the powertrain feeling lively at city speeds. Without the Sonic RS' sport pretenses, the engine met my performance expectations nicely. The transmission, too, feels well-suited for around-town driving. Automatic gear selection seems logical enough that I was never tempted to use the manual mode, accessible via a thumb rocker on the shift lever.
On the other hand, the Trax seems to run out of steam as it starts to stretch its legs and approach highway speeds. The crossover isn't at all what I'd call gutless, but there's a reason no one's bragging about the Trax's 0-to-60 times. Overall, I like what Chevrolet is doing with this small engine and feel it's a good match for the Trax's modest performance expectations.
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is thrifty, but not particularly so. Chevy estimates 26 city mpg and 34 highway mpg for the FWD model, which works out to 29 combined mpg, according to the EPA. The Trax is available also with an AWD option that brings with it a brake upgrade from rear drums to discs and a downgrade to 24 city and 31 highway mpg.
Little big Trax
Though larger than the concept upon which it's based, the 2015 Trax is anything but a large crossover. Its compact footprint make it an easy park on cramped San Francisco streets, but its tall seating position affords the driver a commanding view of the road.
From curbside, the Trax's curves make the crossover appear smaller than it actually is. Lift the rear hatch, however, and the size becomes apparent. With the second row seats upright, the Trax offers plenty of leg and headroom for passengers and 18.7 cubic feet of storage space. Stow the intuitive flip-and-fold rear seats to create mostly flat loading floor and expose the Trax's full 48.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That's more than enough space for a few kegs of beer or cases of wine, a few large boxes when helping a friend move, or a few pieces of flat-packed Swedish furniture. I did find the Trax's rear load-in height to be a bit tall for my liking.