The SUV that saved my back from stress and pain.
The Chevy Trax might be the best kept secret in American cars right now. Small, inexpensive, fuel efficient and with a flexible interior, it looks smart on paper, right?
But for drivers who are in and out of the car all day long, the Trax is a true gem. It’s super easy to get in and out, over and over, without stressing your back, joints or patience. And, it’s fun to drive.
Who this car is for:
- Singles, couples or small families
- City drivers or those who have limited space for parking
- Drivers who need an SUV but don’t want a large car
- Buyers who value fuel efficiency
- Buyers who need flexible cargo and passenger space
- Drivers who need all wheel drive
- Buyers who would rather use their phone for navigation and apps
What it costs:
- LS AWD $23,995: base model with MyLink audio system, 2 USB ports, OnStar and built in wifi
- LT AWD $29,295: mid-grade version includes standard features such as roof rails, household plug and cruise control; options include active safety features, sun roof
- Premier AWD $28,495: fully loaded with leatherette seats, power driver’s seat, active safety features, keyless entry and push start
- Front wheel drive models are about $2,000 less
- Price of the model we drove $27, 390: which included a sunroof ($1,400) active safety features ($495) and keyless entry, push start and a leather wrapped steering wheel ($450)
Right now Chevrolet is running special financing and cash back deals that could potentially reduce the cost of even the nicely loaded models to $25,000 or less than $200 per month.
Surprising room for family and luggage in this small SUV
Our test drive of the Chevy Trax started on our way home from a family vacation. After a long flight we landed, grabbed our luggage and headed to the parking lot. I’d driven the Trax solo before but never with my family and suddenly, worry hit me: I hoped all our luggage would fit in this small SUV.
My worry was needless. Our four suitcases and two tote bags stacked neatly in the cargo area with the tonneau cover removed; my daughters put their backpacks on the seat between them and my handbag went on the rear floor. Not ideal for a long drive (there’s a roof rack for that) but fine for the hour long drive home.
Over the next few days I’d play with the seating configuration and discover just how flexible the Trax is: The rear seats are a 60/40 split fold, so I could put one side down but not the other, and the front seat folds flat for those times when you need a contiguous space, such as when you find the perfect rug at HomeGoods and have to buy it before someone else does.
The real treat: Getting in and out of the Trax
I could drive this car forever. Especially since I’m an in-and-out all day driver: I don’t commute daily; I drop kids at school, hit the grocery store, take the dog for a walk. Shopping trips typically involve four or five stops (the mall, a few favorite boutiques, a discount store or two and then back to where I saw the best deal). Getting out was a simple hop out; getting back in was a simple slide move. That’s because the hip height and upright seating position of the Trax mean less maneuvering in and out. Then, I was able to plunk my handbag on the seat or floor, start the car, buckle up and go.
Often I dread these trips in a small sedan because getting in and out makes me realize how much yoga I should have been doing to be prepared. And I don’t love them in an oversized car, either; there is often more climbing, maneuvering and settling in to do.
Just the right size, it’s easy and fun to drive
Driving the Trax was just as easy. With the higher ground clearance and upright seat position, the car was easy control and maneuver, and visibility was great. And with a peppy 1.4 liter turbo engine, it had plenty of pick up—even when fully loaded with family and luggage. The Trax’s 6-speed transmission often sounded as if it was winding out, or stressing, to reach its speed, but it never felt as if it were lagging or not up to the task. Trax also comes with stability and traction control, a great feature on a small SUV; these systems transfer power to the wheels that need it in challenging conditions, keeping wheels solidly in contact with the ground and helping to avoid a rollover.
Bring your own technology—or not—for a nice cost savings!
One of the things I love, and that we’re seeing more and more in new cars, is the idea of bringing your own technology: Plug in your iPhone and Apple Car Play pops upon the screen (or Android Auto if you have an Android phone). That means I can hit the voice activation button and talk to Siri, who has learned my name, recognizes my voice, knows my most common destinations and the names in my address book. This removes a huge learning curve and also, I don’t have to pay Chevrolet for these systems—I can just use the ones in my phone. CarPlay also lets me use Apple Maps, Spotify, Pandora and I can listen to my texts and send texts, all via voice commands.
I also love that if you don’t want all that tech, you don’t have to have it. Many buyers opt NOT to have a smart phone and don’t want a lot of tech in the car (my parents, for instance). So there’s no invasive navigation screen to deal with and functions are simple: Radio, climate control and and if and when you need it, OnStar.
OnStar: The other thing that has your back
Without built-in navigation I wondered how OnStar turn-by-turn directions would work? So, I pushed the OnStar button and gave it a try. An OnStar operator was immediately available, located my directions and sent them to the car. I was delighted by two things: First, a navigation box came up in the driver information cluster, just to the right of the speedometer. Also, directions came up at the top of the infotainment screen, letting me know when and where to turn. As I approached each turn I had instruction in two places.
The Trax comes with a 5-year OnStar basic plan and a free 3-month subscription to other features, which is pretty nice. But even better is that OnStar’s basic plan is now standard for 5 years. This lets you remote start, lock and unlock your car, call for emergency assistance, send navigation directions to your car, get diagnostics reports and make a service appointment. To get the plan with the nice OnStar rep who looked up directions for us I would have to buy a service upgrade.
Wifi and a household plug turn the Trax into an office on wheels
I can’t tell you how much I love this feature. And here’s why: The antenna on the roof of the Trax gets a much better signal than my phone. And, with in-car wifi I can let others use it rather than draining their own phone plan, and devices without a plan will work, such as my laptop (OnStar has unlimited data for $20 a month).
So for those between-shopping moments when it doesn’t make sense to go home before school pick up, I can pop open my laptop, plug it into the household plug on the back of the center console and search the Chevy site for my next car (or Net-a-Porter for my next pair of shoes).
Simple design with all the necessities
Being a small car, consideration of what to include (and what not to include) is an important design function: too much and you feel squeezed, too little and it feels bare. Chevrolet did a nice job including what you need and leaving out what you don’t. For instance:
- Four cup holders are on the center console between the front seats
- One center armrest attached to the driver’s seat (my kids complained about no arm rest. Boo hoo)
- Two USB ports and one 12V port at the bottom of the center dashboard
- A small cubby under the center dashboard
- Easy flip and fold rear seats with a seatbelt clip to keep the belt from getting in the way
- A household plug on the rear of the center console (which has the cup holders)
- An easy to see center touch screen displaying radio, climate and time, or CarPlay or Android Auto (if they are connected)
- Roof rails standard on LT and Premium editions
It’s nice not to carry the weight of the world in my car
As people are deciding maybe they don’t really need to carry around all their worldly belongings in their cars and are opting for more efficient use of space and fuel, the Trax answers the call. Just the right amount of intelligence, technology and efficiency was ideal for all my driving around during my test drive. And the easy in and out of the driver’s seat? Even my back thanks the Chevy Trax.
What we loved
- Easy in and out thanks to a comfortable hip point
- Super comfortable seat positions
- Apple Car Play/Android Auto so you use your phone, not the car’s nav and apps
- Household plug on the rear of the center console
- Flexible seating and cargo space
- Steering wheel controls for cruise control, radio and driver information displays
- Luggage area that accommodated 4 suitcases and tote bags
- Roof rails are standard
- Remote keyless entry and push button start
- OnStar 5 year basic package included
- Unlimited wifi available for $20 a month
What you need to know
- Two USB ports and a 12V power port at the bottom of the center dashboard
- Cloth seats only on this model (leather is available on the Premium model)
- Regular gas recommended
- Sun roof and active safety features are additional
- 24 MPG city/30 highway; we averaged 27 MPG
- 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty
- 5 year/60,000 power train warranty
What we listened to in the Trax
This cute, fun to drive car inspired us to pump up the music; with Apple CarPlay our Spotify playlist was easy to access. Here’s what the Trax inspired us to listen to: