By Joe Bruzek on April 15, 2014
Competes with: Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Looks like: A cartoonish miniature Chevrolet Equinox
Drivetrain: 138-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder; six-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Early 2015
Chevrolet has a new small car in its stable for 2015 with the Trax SUV, revealed at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. The bite-sized five-passenger SUV goes on sale in the U.S. early next year; it's been on sale in Canada, Mexico and other global markets since 2012. The Trax slots below the considerably larger Equinox and is closer in size to the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze small cars.
Small doesn't mean basic, though, as Chevrolet will pump the Trax full of available connectivity and convenience features such as its 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Siri Eyes Free system, BringGo navigation app as well as optional all-wheel drive, leather trim and more. The Trax will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels, and we'll know pricing closer to its on-sale date next year.
The Trax's overall length of 168.5 inches makes it longer than the Sonic hatchback (159 inches) but shorter than the sedan (173.1 inches) and the Cruze (181 inches). Chevrolet's next-largest SUV, the five-passenger Equinox, dwarfs the Trax with an additional 19.3 inches of length. The tiny Buick Encore is similarly sized and shares the same wheelbase.
Available exterior features include front fog lights and "simulated" front and rear skid plates for a sportier experience. Sixteen-inch wheels come standard on LS and LT trim levels, while LTZ models wear 18-inch wheels.
The inside's styling is heavily inspired by the Sonic. The Trax's instrument cluster has the Sonic's signature digital speedometer and analog tachometer in a motorcycle-like configuration, and even the rest of the interior looks like the Sonic. Chevrolet's voice-activated MyLink multimedia system and a USB port are standard; the system uses a seven-inch touch-screen that also displays the standard backup camera and optional navigation via the BringGo smart phone app. Other available features include a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, remote start, satellite radio and Siri Eyes Free for Apple iOS 6 and 7 devices that provide voice-activated smartphone control.
Trax LS models feature cloth seating, while LT models have more upscale cloth upholstery plus an available imitation leather and cloth combination. Full leatherette, or vinyl, trim comes on LTZ trim levels. Leather makes an appearance on the steering wheel of LTZ trims and some LT trims. Up to 48.4 cubic feet of total cargo room is available with the second row folded, while 18.7 cubic feet lives behind the 60/40-split folding rear seat. The specs compare favorably to the Nissan Juke's 35.9/10.5 cubic feet (maximum/behind rear seat) and are similar to the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport's 49.5/21.7 cubic feet. The Kia Soul's 61.3/24.2 cubic feet has a cargo volume edge compared to the Trax. A hidden drawer under the front passenger seat and upper and lower glove boxes create additional storage, and items up to 8-feet long can fit in the Trax with the flat-folding front passenger seat.
There's one engine and one transmission pairing: a 138-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission. The Trax has standard front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is optional; the on-demand system sends power to the rear wheels when front-tire slip is detected. The turbocharged engine runs on regular fuel, and Chevrolet says EPA fuel-economy ratings are 26/34 mpg city/highway.
The Trax has 10 standard airbags, including knee airbags for the front driver and passenger, side curtain airbags for both rows plus seat-mounted thorax airbags for front and rear outboard occupants, which Chevrolet says is a class-exclusive feature. The Trax also has OnStar's Advanced Crash Response System for emergency assistance and more.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe