I promise, it's not a Geo! Technically, the Trax marks the return of the forgettable Chevrolet Tracker.
GM has always been a powerhouse in the SUV market, providing us with iconic names like Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, and the acquisition of the Big Daddy of them all, the Hummer. It was all fine and dandy up until gas prices went up and the economy went down. A new approach was in order, the small SUV. That’s where the 2013 Chevrolet Trax comes in.
I’ve had the opportunity to test quite a few small SUV’s in the past year. Some were genuinely great, and others were just plain awful, but even still, it’s always interesting to see each manufacturer’s unique take on this booming market. The obvious challenge is to squeeze the benefits of a SUV such as all-wheel-drive, off-road capability, a tall and upright driving position, comfort, and space into a small car-like platform. I’ve been fairly impressed with Chevrolet’s modern offering, especially the Cruze, so I was quite excited to test the Trax. With an as-tested price tag of $27,380 in a very competitive segment, I was expecting a lot. While there was a lot to like about the Trax, there was also a lot to dislike as well.
From most angles, the Trax is a handsome little thing. It’s large flared fenders, grill and headlights give it an aggressive look. The 18” silver alloys look fantastic as well. It sends out a message that it’s small but mighty. I actually think it looks pretty “cute”. Its short overhangs really help with parking in the city as well, where most small SUV’s seem to reside.
The Trax is powered by a 1.4L Ecotec inline-4 with a turbocharger, good for 138hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. I honestly think they could’ve squeezed a bit more power of that four-banger, but they didn’t, and I think the lack of power really lets it down. Although it’s enough to zip around town in, it needs to downshift to desperately hunt for power. Not only does it lack power, the engine noise is not exactly pleasant to the ear. In general, I feel discouraged to put my foot down at all.
The Trax’s AWD system is a bit different than most AWD cars on the market. Usually, a car will accelerate from a standstill in FWD mode and only when slip is detected will AWD be activated. However, in the Trax, it’s the complete opposite in that it starts off in AWD mode and almost immediately reverts to FWD mode when no slip is detected. This process is unnoticeable to the driver, which is great. Oddly enough, it didn’t snow this week at all, so I wasn’t able to test out the Trax’s AWD system but in the handling department, I’d say it’s pretty average. Body roll is relatively minimal but there is very little feel in the steering, one of the first things I noticed. Although most SUV buyers don’t care too much about handling, but I do expect more, especially since it’s based off the Cruze platform. Overall, I’d have to say that the Trax is underwhelming in the fun-to-drive department.
The interior is where the Trax redeems itself, sort-of. It seats four adults comfortable, with plenty of room to spare. The leatherette seats are comfortable, especially if you like a tall and upright driving position, and visibility in all directions is pretty good. My tester even came equipped with a rear parking camera. The layout of the cabin is pretty good and the overall aesthetic design as well. I only wished they used better materials for some parts, as there was a “cheap” feeling throughout. Also standard on the 2LT and LTZ models is Chevrolet’s MyLink entertainment interface. It’s pretty much the same thing as the MyLink in all other Chevrolet models, with a 7” touchscreen that is easy and straight-forward to use. A 7-speaker Bose sound system, SiriusXM radio and Bluetooth connectivity are much-appreciated features as well.
The Trax offers a lot, it really does. All-wheel-drive, handsome styling, a comfortable interior, it’s got all the right things on paper, but the end product is underwhelming. While it’s not a bad car, it just doesn’t have the edge it needs to beat all the other great offerings in such a competitive segment. It’s not fun to drive, and ultimately that is the most important factor for me. That being said, for young families where a high seating position and great visibility is a priority, it’s hard to look elsewhere.
2013 Chevrolet Trax Gallery