2014 Chevrolet Trax
2014 Chevrolet Trax
2014 Chevrolet Trax. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

A few months ago James Bergeron spent a week with Chevrolet’s high-volume “SUV” and was told that the Trax is flying out of the sales rooms. After my quick spin I can understand why. It has a confidence-inspiring driving position, neat styling and a lot of endearing interior quirks. It’s also super-easy to drive.

The Trax is essentially a Sonic with a lift-kit, giving the people who like such things a nice and high seating position, but also a car-like vehicle they can easily park. It has the same 138 hp/148 lb-ft 1.4L four cylinder found in the Sonic and some iterations of the Cruze. This model had the six-speed automatic with a really smooth shifting action that takes its time gently moving through the gears. What it lacks in sportiness it makes up for in ease of driving and smoothness – virtues frequently overlooked by we automotive writing types.

The steering wheel gives a high margin of error on centre. I used to think this is a bad thing, but in a compact SUV I can see the advantages. Let’s say for example there is a child in the back seat hitting another child in the back seat. So Mom or Dad turn around momentarily to use their beloved’s government name and bring them back in line. “Jacob Aaron Black, stop that immediately!” In a car with razor-sharp steering, that action can send the car arrowing at the curb as the inadvertent tilt on the wheel changes direction. Now picture the same scenario in the Trax. This time, because of the five degrees of steering wheel play either side of centre, the subtle lean on the wheel is never transmitted to the car, and so you continue merrily down the road in a straight line. See? Every cloud has a silver lining.

I am a total Luddite when it comes to electric steering and the Trax only reinforces that prejudice. Assistance seems slightly too low in the car park, making for heavier steering while it seems too high on the road. The other little quirk of the Trax steering is the way the steering wheel springs back to centre after you get to about five degrees from straight.  The action is kind of enjoyable and gives the sense the car is straightening itself out but the truth of it is likely far less glamorous. Best guess is that’s one of the gimmicks GM has chosen to make the electric steering seem more real.

2014 Chevrolet Trax2014 Chevrolet Trax2014 Chevrolet Trax
2014 Chevrolet Trax. Click image to enlarge

Handling-wise the Trax is not floppy or vague so much as it is slow. Turning the wheel leads to a confident change in direction – eventually. You could probably count one-Mississippi between your steering input and the relevant reaction from the chassis.

But this isn’t a sports car, and I can see plenty of people buying one for their son or daughter as a reward for excellent grades. Handling like that is perfect for someone who wants a forgiving car that won’t respond to the wild gesticulations of an inexperienced driver. Equally, the handling of the Trax won’t encourage any driver into fits of hoonery and silliness. What the Trax will do is adeptly absorb bumps without impacting the trajectory of the car, and that includes climbing high curbs while turning into a shopping-centre carpark at too great a rate of knots. The soft-sprung suspension takes all of the bumps and creases in the road in stride; and isn’t that the whole point of suspension in the first place?

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