Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet
Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet
Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet
Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Introduced last year along with its upscale relative, the Buick Encore, the Chevrolet Trax is one of a growing number of “mini-crossover” SUVs that offer the utility and all-weather capability of a sport utility vehicle along with the city-friendly advantages of a smaller footprint.

Though it’s smaller than popular compact SUVs like the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V, the Trax has many of the advantages of an SUV such as a higher ground clearance, the availability of all-wheel drive, a higher seating position with better driver visibility, generous headroom for front and rear passengers, and a reasonably spacious cargo area.  At the same time, its smaller size makes it easier to manoeuvre in dense traffic, short enough to fit into most street parking spaces, and narrow enough to slide into tight underground parking spots.

Thankfully, its city-friendly manoeuvrability is not spoiled by an underpowered engine.  All Trax models come with a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine with 138 hp and a generous 148 lb-ft of torque.  Base models have a standard six-speed manual transmission, but all other trims have a standard six-speed automatic with a manual shift mode.  According to Natural Resources Canada, fuel economy for the base FWD model is 7.8 L/100 km city (30 mpg US) and 5.7 L/100 km hwy (41 mpg US). With all-wheel drive and the automatic transmission, fuel consumption is 8.7 city/6.5 hwy (27/36 mpg US).  The more reliable U.S. EPA estimates aren’t available because the Trax isn’t sold in the United States.  Unlike some turbocharged engines, this one uses Regular grade gasoline.

Pricing seems a bit steep for a small SUV, but is comparable to other vehicles in its class: the 2014 Chevrolet Trax is offered in four trim levels: LS ($18,695), 1LT ($23,845), 2LT ($26,345), and LTZ ($28,345).   Front-wheel drive is standard on all models and AWD is optional on all but the base trim.  With AWD, add $2,000, for the 1LT ($25,845), 2LT ($28,345), and LTZ ($30,345).

Our test Trax, a mid-level AWD 1LT ($25,845), is likely to be the volume seller in Canada with an as-tested price under $30,000.  Standard in the 1LT are 16-inch tires and four disc brakes with ABS and brake assist, alloy wheels, automatic transmission, air conditioning, six airbags, ‘deluxe’ cloth seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar, remote unlocking, AM/FM/CD audio with six speakers, Bluetooth wireless phone and audio, power windows, locks and mirrors, split folding rear seatbacks, and fold-flat front passenger seat.

Our test Trax also had $2,095 worth of options including a Bose premium seven-speaker audio system and Sirius XM satellite radio ($775); MyLink seven-inch touchscreen with smartphone links to apps for Stitcher and Tunein radio and BringGo navigation, rearview camera and rear park assist  ($910); premium all-weather floor mats $160; and 10 airbags including front knee airbags and rear side airbags ($150).  With a Freight charge of $1,600 and a/c tax $100, the price as tested came to $29,630, before taxes.

Reflecting the current trend in truck and SUV styling, the Trax has an imposing front end with a tall hood that extends quite far forwards, dropping suddenly to a body-coloured front bumper with its split grille, lower air intake, spoiler and bumper insert.  The bold front end is generally attractive, but we didn’t like the black plastic inserts in the front bumper where the fog lights are located in the LTZ model.  We did like the Trax’s rear three-quarter view with prominent fender bulges emphasizing width and stability; and we liked the black plastic side sills and wheel arches that hint at a rugged capability and protection from stone chips.

Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT car test drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Trax AWD LT. Click image to enlarge

The Trax’s tall body style permits large front and rear door openings which make it easy to get in and out of the seats, but all occupants must step over a small ledge at the door sills, and rear passengers must raise the lowered rear head restraints before they can lean back (which is probably a good idea).   There’s plenty of headroom in the front and rear of the Trax, and rear legroom is adequate in part because of the chair-like seating positions.  However, the cabin’s narrow width precludes a centre rear passenger unless it’s absolutely necessary.

In the Trax 1LT, the driver’s seat includes a manual height adjustment, an unexpected power lumbar adjustment, and a handy inboard folding armrest – but the front passenger seat has none of those features.  I found the driver’s seat quite comfortable on long drives but lamented the lack of seat heaters, which are available only in the LTZ trim. The rear seat cushions in the Trax are harder than the front cushions but legroom is adequate and headroom is generous.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).