Review: Chevrolet Trax is the new regular version of a great value vehicle

Review: Chevrolet Trax is the new regular version of a great value vehicle

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Chevrolet Trax 2024.Jeremy Sink/The Globe and Mail

Remember the new $10,000 car? It’s been barely 10 years since Nissan Canada bounced back by importing the Mexican-made Micra, a small car relic of the 1980s and 1990s complete with a five-speed transmission, ambient temperature “climate control” (no air conditioning ). ) and the base price is $9,998.

Its arrival forced Mitsubishi and Chevrolet to cut prices of the Mirage and Spark to the same four-figure sticker price.

Today the only small car on the market is the Mirage, and its price now starts at $16,998. Other automakers’ entry-level offerings — if they have one — are subcompact crossovers that look like full-size SUVs, except they don’t have all-wheel drive. And none of them start at less than $20,000, even before adding shipping (which is a lot more than it used to be), taxes and dealer fees.

If you’re looking for an affordable car these days, you might want to consider this new-for-2024, second-generation Chevrolet Trax.

Priced from $21,699, it fits the format of front-wheel-drive/lower-deck-only alternatives like the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue, but it’s much larger. In fact, its 4.5-metre length mixes it with the ‘big boys’ in the small car segment. It’s about 25cm longer than the Kicks and 50cm longer than the Venue, with more interior space to fit into it.

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The 2024 Chevrolet Trax has a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine.Jeremy Sink/The Globe and Mail

The Trax comes in four additional trims beyond the base LS model, priced at $28,199. Higher trims add progressively more aesthetics, convenience, comfort and technology, but there are no mechanical upgrades: They’re all powered by the same 137-hp 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. moving in.

The Trax represents a lot of metal for the money, and even the base LS is not bare-bones. Standard kit includes air conditioning, cruise control, heated front seats, smartphone pairing, a backup camera, active noise cancellation, and an entry-level suite of active assist driving technology, such as automatic emergency braking and active lane keep assist.

Our test sample was the Activ model, which shares top model billing with the 2RS. Both ask $28,199, but have different exterior cosmetics, including larger wheels on the “Sport” RS model, while only the “Off-Road” Activ model has a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Representing the new reality of entry-level car buying, Trax is larger and more refined than the small hatchbacks that previously filled that role. Yet it maintains its cheap and cheerful charm. It doesn’t go fast but it feels ready to do its best, with minimal turbo lag and a distinct sound under the hood. Its ride is always a bit twitchy, even at its best, but it doesn’t deteriorate when the road surface is at its worst. And for engaged drivers who care, it steers and corners more like a competent car than a heavy crossover.

It’s not available with all-wheel drive, but despite that, the Trax is a solid value. While most similarly sized crossovers offer all-wheel drive (AWD), even their base front-wheel-drive models are much more expensive than Chevrolet’s cheerful new affordable crossover.

Technical specifications

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The 2024 Chevrolet Trax is only available with front-wheel drive.Jeremy Sink/The Globe and Mail

Chevrolet Trax 2024
  • Base price/as tested: $21,699/$29,789 (active trim)
  • engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed automatic/front-wheel drive
  • Fuel consumption (liters per 100 km): 8.3 city/7.4 highway
  • Alternatives: Buick Invista, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Venue, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Mitsubishi RVR, Nissan Kicks, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota Corolla Cross, Volkswagen Taos

Look

Besides being a bit longer and wider than most competitors, the Trax is built noticeably lower, giving it a good stance and proportions that lean more toward a station wagon than a crossover. This is good.

Interior

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Yellow accents and Evotex faux-leather seats are specific to the Activ model.Jeremy Sink/The Globe and Mail

The Trax has plenty of interior space. Passenger volume is nearly the best in its class, with plenty of back-seat legroom. Our Activ model also offers a car-like driving position with eight-way power seat adjustment (other models get a six-way manual), good sightlines, and an 11-inch touchscreen (lower models get an 8-inch screen).

The screen doesn’t have many features — navigation, for example, isn’t available — but on the plus side, you do get physical buttons for climate control. Higher models also have a configurable 8-inch digital gauge cluster, although some may prefer the no-nonsense analogue dials on lower models. The dashboard looks upscale, although keeping the traditional gear lever on the center console doesn’t leave much room for storing items.

performance

With just 137bhp, the Trax clearly ranks at the slow end of the performance spectrum – taking just over nine seconds to reach 100km/h. However, in routine driving, it’s the torque that does the work, and the Trax’s 162 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm provides enough thrust without undue effort. It clearly doesn’t feel like a three-cylinder, and it’s more than acceptably smooth for an econobox. The transmission’s ratio number is low by today’s standards, but at least it’s not a CVT, and on the highway its relaxed pace (2,400 rpm at 120 km/h, for example) feels cooler than that, because the three-cylinder engine has 25 percent less “detonation” per revolution than a four-cylinder engine.

technology

Standard infotainment and connectivity assets include a Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM, GM OnStar, wireless smartphone pairing, and USB-A and USB-C ports. Available driving assistance features, in addition to the standard items already mentioned, include lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert.

the goods

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The cargo area is spacious and functional with more space below deck where the spare space is located.Jeremy Sink/The Globe and Mail

Whether the seats are up or folded, luggage volumes (724 and 1,531 litres respectively) are above average for this class. Unlike some competitors, the Trax doesn’t offer a two-position cargo deck, but the deck transitions seamlessly into the folded seatbacks and there’s a useful (if incomplete) hidden space underneath.

Judgment

Spacious, practical and fun to drive, the Trax is the new regular version of a great value vehicle.

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