Chevrolet Trax (2013-2014) review
The Chevrolet Trax is a rival the Nissan Juke, offering value for money and rugged off-road looks
The Chevrolet Trax is an affordable crossover that competes against the likes of the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. It shares its platform with the Vauxhall Mokka but has a streamlined two model line-up: the LS and higher-spec LT. It also shares the same petrol and diesel four-cylinder engine range as the Vauxhall and is available in two and four-wheel drive. The design of the Trax is unique, though, with more brash styling in-line with the rest of the American manufacturer’s line-up, taking influence form the larger Captiva and Camaro muscle car. The interior quality is lacking compared to its rivals, but there are plenty of storage areas and a versatile seating arrangement that maximises luggage space.
Engines, performance and drive
The Trax is based on the same platform as the Vauxhall Corsa and Chevrolet Aveo, which means it drives well for a crossover. The raised ride height does mean there’s excessive body roll and this is pronounced in even the slightest of corners. Its seating position is higher, of course, but the steering wheel and gearshift are well placed. The entry-level 114bhp four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol has the least power, but even the 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol feels sluggish, with its automatic gearbox a poor match. You need to give the throttle a severe prod to get things moving, as the transmission won’t change down otherwise. There is a switch on the side of the gearlever that enables you to perform your own shifts, but its positioning makes it clumsy to use. The 130bhp 1.7-litre diesel engine has a decent 300Nm of torque which, with the six-speed manual transmission, is much smoother. Unfortunately, the diesel is noisy, whether you’re driving at low or high speeds. Get the car up to speed and this is then combined with excessive wind noise. The ride also disappoints - it never feels settled and has a tendency to bounce over poor surfaces.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
The front-wheel drive diesel-powered Trax with the manual gearbox is the pick both in terms of drivability and efficiency. It's capable of 62.7mpg and 120g/km of CO2, which is better than both the most efficient Nissan Juke’s 55mpg and 129g/km and is on a par with the Skoda Yeti’s 61.0mpg and 119g/km of CO2. Stop-start is standard on all manual cars, while electric power steering, which also saves fuel, is standard across the range. Four-wheel-drive models are less efficient, with the manual all-wheel drive diesel delivering 57.6mpg and 129g/km of CO2, while the petrol 1.4-litre turbo with all-wheel drive managing 44.1mpg and 149g/km of CO2.
Interior, design and technology
The Chevrolet Trax is designed to build on the manufacturer’s SUV roots, which include the now 75-year-old Chevvy Suburban. So its exterior has been styled to reflect the rugged, 4x4 image that Chevrolet wants to project: massive wheel arches, a high nose and ‘power dome’ bonnet with signature Chevrolet two-piece grille. This all helps the Trax stand out a little from the Mokka that it’s based on. Then there’s the sloping roofline and roof rails leading towards a strong C-pillar design. There’s also off-road cladding around the bottom of the car, with silver skid-plates noticeable thanks to its high ground clearance. The interior is less impressive, though. The materials used around the cabin look fine on first glance, but on further inspection feel cheap and scratchy. Higher spec LT cars come with MyLink technology, which allows you to link apps from your smartphone to the car, as well as controlling music and calls. This is all controlled via a large touchscreen that has a neat appearance and is uncluttered.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Trax shines in terms of space and its usability. There are eight different seating configurations, which includes the ability to fold the front passenger seat flat for 1,370 litres of space. That’s more than the 830 litres offered in the Nissan Juke but less than the Skoda Yeti, which has 1580 litres. With the rear seat in place, the Trax has only 356 litres of space, compared to the Juke’s 550 litres and the Yeti’s 416 litres. A great deal of thought has been put into designing the Trax's interior, though, with 19 storage areas – including four cup-holders in the centre console alone and a second glovebox that contains the aux-in point to hide away your MP3 player. There’s also the benefit of the high ground clearance, underbody protection and wheelarch cladding making the Trax more resilient to rough conditions. The all-wheel drive system is electronic and doesn’t require any hub-locking nor manual selection, and feels much more stable and composed than front-wheel-drive versions. There’s also the convenience of cruise control, Bluetooth and push-button start on all models.
Reliability and Safety
The Trax has a five-star Euro NCAP rating with six airbags, ABS, brake-force distribution and Hill-Start Assist standard across the range. There’s optional Hill-Descent Control as well, adding to the off-road capabilities of the Trax. Reliability should be strong, as the Trax uses engines shared not only with the Mokka, but proven in the Chevrolet Aveo and across a number of other Vauxhall cars. The Trax comes with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty that includes roadside assistance for the first 12 months.