Car and Driver 10 Best Trucks and SUVs
From the January 2024 issue of Car and driver.
What is a common complaint from small vehicle buyers? They are very small, of course. Chevy is looking to neutralize that with the new, larger Trax, which extends its overall length by 11.0 inches and outstrips the competition. While the less expensive but no longer smaller Chevy keeps its pricing firmly in small crossover territory, its 106.3-inch wheelbase almost exactly matches that of the largest Honda CR-V in the class. There’s 37 percent more cargo volume behind the rear seats than before, and it has three extra inches of rear legroom, enough for that man’s 99 percent connected knees to fit behind the front seat equipped for an equally skinny driver.
“More for less” is a good way to define our value criteria, which, along with how well the car fulfills its intended mission and how exciting it is to drive, are the key factors for 10Best. If the Trax’s fun-to-drive leg in the standard three-legged seat is much shorter than some of the other winners, it stands tall over the other two. Although the Trax isn’t overtly dynamic, we respect its solid efficiency and appreciate its steering and braking characteristics that are well above average.
Despite her large growth, Trax breaks the rule by not gaining weight. The top-trim Activ weighs 3,069 pounds, which is 82 pounds lighter than the last front-wheel-drive Trax we tested. Part of the slimming is due to dropping the all-wheel drive option, something buyers in the Midwest and Northeast might balk at, even if Chevy is right that no one really needs it. The roofline of the new Trax is also lower by more than three inches, making the SUV look more like a wagon in terms of profile and seat height. You will not receive any complaints from us about this.
Although the new Trax loses a cylinder, its 137-hp 1.2-liter engine delivers enough power, besting its predecessor across the board, though its 8.8 seconds to 60 mph is still inadequate by today’s standards. It also did better than the previous Trax in the highway fuel economy loop, returning 30 mpg. The Trax is quieter than expected too, with standard active noise cancellation helping when opening the throttle wide and at 70mph cruising, where our 69dB reading meant it was every bit as quiet as a Lexus NX350.
The base Trax starts at $21,495, and even the top-of-the-line Activ model at $24,995 is nearly half the price of today’s average new car. Wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen are standard. Higher models feature an 11.0-inch touchscreen and are available with wireless device charging and a sunroof. Although you won’t be surprised that at this price the interior has a lot of hard plastics, higher models add a wraparound steering wheel to soften where your hands always touch.
In almost every aspect, the Trax is better than we expected and better than it needs to be, which is a textbook way to earn a spot on this list.
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Chevrolet Trax 2024
137 hp turbo 1.2L inline-3; 6 speed automatic
grandfather Test results (active)
60 mph: 8.8 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.8 seconds at 81 mph
Top speed (C/D est): 115 mph
Braking, 0-70 mph: 180 ft
Road Holder, 300ft Surfboard: 0.84g
EPA Combo/City/Highway: 30/28/32 mpg
Vehicle testing manager
Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, holding various roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leads Car and driverVehicle testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start in C/D when he happened to submit an unsolicited resume just in time for a part-time road warrior job while a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became fascinated with the world of automotive journalism.