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2016 Chevy Trax [REVIEW]

Here’s our review of the Chevy Trax subcompact crossover. How does it stack up against the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3? Read more to find out.

2016-Chevrolet-Trax

Chevrolet is now offering the subcompact Trax crossover for American consumption after a two-year run in the land of maple syrup and hockey. With an overall length of 168.5 inches, the Trax slots in between its two main competitors, the longer Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the shorter Nissan Juke. Although taller than either of those vehicles, the Trax’s 6.2 inches of ground clearance is less than the Outlander Sport or the Juke, highlighting the little Chevrolet’s mission as more of an urban run-about than a mild off-roader.
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Related: Chevy to introduce a new midsize crossover in 2017

Those familiar with the Trax from other parts of the world will notice its tall, uninspired styling hasn’t changed much aside from a new grille that adds horizontal chrome bars. Chevrolet changed more under the skin than anywhere else by reinforcing the Trax to handle the IIHS small overlap crash test. Other changes performed to the mechanics of the Trax for emigration to the U.S. market include re-calibrated steering for greater effort and on-center feel as well as stiffer damper settings to give it a larger, more planted feel. Having driven the Canadian spec Trax on a few occasions, I can attest to the steering improvements. It’s better weighted if not still too loose for my liking.

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The Trax looks smaller from the outside than it really is thanks to its tall roof and short length. With the roof set so high, there is plenty of headroom in both the front and rear seats with 38.8 inches in both cases. With an acceptable 35.7 inches of rear legroom, adults do fit in the back of the Trax, but the seats aren’t the most comfortable. The trunk is on the small side, offering only 18.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, but I found it to be surprisingly usable. Fold down the rear seats and total storage space grows to 48.4 cubic feet and if that’s not enough, the front passenger seat folds flat with a hard plastic backing to store especially long items like a surfboard or a bicycle. If you still need more storage, the Trax comes standard with 15 compartments as every possible empty space had been carved into a cubby in every shape imaginable.

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Like the Buick Encore that the Trax shares a platform with, the only engine available is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 138 HP and 148 lb-ft. of torque. Like any GM vehicle equipped with this powerplant, the numbers can be deceiving. With oodles of low-end torque, the 1.4 turbo feels far more powerful than it really is. Climbing the foothills is no problem for the Trax, but power does taper off at freeway speeds. Best of all, the Trax’s engine still runs on regular gasoline despite its turbocharger. Standard on all U.S.-spec Trax models will be a six-speed automatic transmission sending power to either the front or all four wheels. The six-speed manual available on base models in other markets, including Canada, will not be offered in the US. The good news is the automatic is as smooth as the engine it is mated to.

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Related: 2016 Honda HR-V [REVIEW]

Equipped with front-wheel drive, the 2,805-lb. Trax is rated at 26 MPG city and 34 MPG highway. After mixed driving over the course of a week, I was right on those estimates averaging a respectable 28 MPG. The heavier 3,208-lb. AWD Trax is rated to average 24 MPG in the city and 31MPG on the highway. Available with either 16-inch wheels wearing 205/70R16 tires or 18-inch wheels with larger 215/55R18 rubber, the Trax delivers a smooth ride for a vehicle with a short 100.6-inch wheelbase. Although the larger 18-inch wheels with the lower profile tires diminish ride quality a bit, both versions of the Trax absorb large bumps with surprising composure and minimal rebound.

And that brings us to pricing, which is arguably the most important aspect of this vehicle. Base LS front-wheel drive models start at $20,995 after destination charges, undercutting the Buick Encore by $3,000 and the larger Chevrolet Equinox by $3,500. That leaves the Trax as the most affordable crossover in the GM lineup. Even the loaded LTZ all-wheel drive model only costs $27,405. The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is competitive with the current crop of subcompact crossovers. It won’t be long until Fiat launches the new 500X, Honda has it’s worldly new HR-V and Mazda is making waves with the CX-3; not to mention the new Jeep Renegade. Anyone interested in buying into the new subcompact should at least put the Trax on your list, you might be be surprised at what this cute-ute has in store.