2018 Chevrolet Trax Review

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2018 Chevrolet Trax Overview

Introduced in 2015 and refreshed in 2017, the Chevrolet Trax subcompact crossover SUV changes little for 2018, receiving minor updates and a new special edition. Still trying to find its legs in a highly competitive market segment, the Trax attempts to create a new entry-level daily driver with flexible cargo space, a higher ride height, and an affordable sticker price. The Trax gets decent marks for its handling, seat comfort, and tech features, but its ride can be harsh on rough road surfaces. Some critics find its engine underpowered and noisy, especially when pushed at highway speeds. The Trax also lacks interior storage spaces, which can make it a tight fit for busy families. That said, the Trax gives buyers an additional domestic choice in the emerging segment of small SUVs designed primarily for city and suburban use.

Updates for 2018 include a new Redline Edition package with a unique black grille, black 18-inch wheels with red accents, black mirror caps, black Chevy bowtie emblems in the front and rear, and Jet Black premium cloth and leatherette upholstery inside. Chevy offers the Trax in three new exterior colors for 2018, including Storm Blue Metallic, Cajun Red Tintcoat, and Sandy Ridge Metallic. The top-level Premier trim gets a sunroof, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning as new standard features.

In addition to the Premier trim, the Trax lineup for 2018 consists of the entry-level LS and mid-level LT trims. The Redline Edition package is available on the LT trim only. A 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, borrowed from the Sonic subcompact sedan and hatchback, drives all three Trax trims. As in the Sonic, it produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. The turbo-4 does a decent job of moving the lighter-weight Sonic, but it struggles in the Trax, resulting in slower acceleration and a lack of passing power at highway speeds. Overall, the engine is better suited for city driving. It links to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which comes standard on all trims, and posts fuel economy numbers of 25 mpg city, 33 highway, and 28 combined.

In its standard configuration, the Trax rides on a front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform.Buyers can add all-wheel drive (AWD) at all trim levels. When it detects low traction, the AWD system can send up to 50 percent of torque to either front wheel and up to 85 percent to either rear wheel to provide additional grip and stability. When equipped with AWD, fuel economy numbers drop slightly, to 24, 30, and 27.

The Trax's short footprint, with a wheelbase of just 100.6 inches and overall length of 167.2 inches, makes it highly maneuverable around the city and into tight parking spaces. The fully independent suspension, however, can feel rough on the highway, and larger wheels and tires can transmit substantial road noise into the cabin. The electric power steering gets mixed reviews. Some call it highly responsive, especially for city driving, but others say it offers little feedback at highway speeds. GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system comes standard on all Trax trims.

The Trax received a fairly significant overhaul in 2017 when Chevy updated the small SUV's front fascia with a new dual-element grille, thinner headlights, and a new hood to bring its look more in line with other Chevy vehicles. The 2017 exterior update also included a revised rear fascia and sculpted taillights, all of which roll over into 2018 version. The Trax continues to display a sporty stance and a curvy design, with a short nose, sloping roof, and rising sidelines. The base LS gets power-adjustable side mirrors and halogen reflector headlights as standard features, and the LT and Premium upgrade to heated power mirrors and halogen projector headlights. Other standard exterior features for the LT and Premium trims include LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, and roof rails, and the Premium adds front foglights. The LS and LT trims ride on 16-inch wheels, which upgrade to 18-inch wheels on the Premium.

Inside, the Trax seats five passengers, though three adults will feel cramped in the second row. Seats are generally comfortable in both rows, though taller passengers in the front might have a hard time finding a comfortable seating position. Given the Trax's small size, cargo space is adequate, measuring 18.7 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seatback folded flat. Owners and reviewers also point out the lack of storage spaces in the Trax's cabin for smaller items, especially in the front row, which lacks center console storage. The LT and Premier trims get a storage drawer under the front passenger seat, but it's not included with the base LS.

Tech features abound in the Trax, with standard equipment like Chevy's MyLink infotainment system, which includes a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a reversing camera, a 6-speaker audio system, and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. The LT trim adds satellite radio, and the Premium trim upgrades to a 7-speaker Bose audio system. Although cruise control is not included in the base LS model’s standard equipment list, it does get other features like a driver information center with a compass display on the instrument cluster. Remote keyless entry and single-zone air conditioning are among the other standard features on the LS. The LT adds deluxe cloth upholstery, cruise control, and remote vehicle start. The Premier trim includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a sunroof.

Safety features are generous in the small SUV, starting with 10 airbags, including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. The Trax also comes standard with Wi-Fi hotspot capability and GM's OnStar safety system, which includes such features as roadside assistance, stolen vehicle assistance, automatic crash response, advanced diagnostics, and turn-by-turn navigation. The Premium adds advanced safety features such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and side blind-zone alert. Some of the new standard features for 2018 are available as options on the LT. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Trax a top safety rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

The 2018 Trax hits a sweet spot for many buyers, thanks in part to the 2017 updates, technology features, and high safety rating.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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