2017 Chevy Trax nimble, easy to drive in busy Chicago

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Chicago — The updated 2017 Chevrolet Trax small crossover proved it’s a good SUV for urban driving as it zipped through tight city streets and numerous obstacles during a recent test drive here.

Chevy’s small SUV deftly handled obstacles on busy Chicago streets.

The Trax is updated with a fresh, more athletic-looking face and new rear fascia not long after Chevy launched the subcompact in the U.S. market in 2015.

A refreshed Trax arrives in dealerships next month, with a starting price of $21,895 for a front-wheel drive LS model, including destination. That’s about $700 more expensive than the 2016 model but it comes with a new Chevy MyLink 7-inch touch radio, a nicely refreshed interior and more available safety features.

The Trax offers good visibility out of the front and is easy to maneuver. It handled the busy streets of Chicago with hazards around nearly every corner including double-parked cars, buses, pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the road. A standard rearview camera came in handy when backing up in tight, car-lined streets.

A front-wheel drive up-level Premium model, which replaces the LTZ, has leather seats and safety technology features such as lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert for about $28,000. The well-equipped Trax LT tested here costs about $25,000 including destination and included extras such as a power sunroof, newly available rear park-assist and rear cross-traffic alert, and a premium audio system. Add all-wheel drive, which 40 percent of Trax buyers do, for another $1,500.

With rear-splitting seats, and a fold-down passenger seat, you can haul an item eight feet long.

Chevrolet says 61.1 percent of Trax buyers are women, the highest percentage for the brand; 50 percent of Trax buyers are new to Chevy.

Betsy Flegg, senior marketing and advertising manager for Chevrolet crossovers, said elevated seating and visibility are attracting women buyers.

“It’s maneuverable, too,” she said. “You’re not trying to haul around a big vehicle, especially in urban areas like this. You can really get around and you still have room if you need to go to Costco.”

Flegg said the Trax is aimed at millennials but is appealing to all ages.

Trax is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 138 horsepower and 148 foot-pounds of torque. While the acceleration is fine for city streets, it could stand a bit more pickup for highway entering.

The redesigned Trax front has fresh headlights and dual-port grille. The rear has LED lights on up-level trims.

Inside, drivers will find a nicer interior and a redesigned instrument panel. Front-seat passengers no longer will see a storage door immediately in their view and instead will find new trim and better-quality soft-touch materials.

I found the MyLink infotainment system simple to use and the center stack controls easy to reach during a drive last week in the Windy City, one of the vehicle’s top sales markets. Keyless entry and start also are new for 2017.

The Trax still has downfalls. The armrest, only for the driver, is tiny and there is not much storage up front (the back seat offers more options including in the seat backs, plus a 120-volt outlet). While the crossover I drove had a power seat, I had trouble adjusting my seat back.

Although the back seat legroom is tight for adults, it does the trick. And with rear-splitting seats that fold flat and the passenger seat being able to fold down, you can haul an item up to eight feet long in the bitty ute.

The Trax competes with other little SUVs such as the Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V and competition is expected to remain hot in the fast growing subcompact segment, which has doubled entries in the past few years. The 2017 Trax is built in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Chevy has sold more than 100,000 Trax vehicles in the U.S. since its debut, including 2016 sales that were up 23.5 percent to 45,598 through August.

Chevy’s Flegg predicts Trax sales will continue to grow as more buyers flock to SUVs. And buyers considering a small, functional SUV with plenty of safety options and style should put Trax on their shopping consideration list.


(313) 222-2319

2017 Chevrolet Trax


Vehicle type: Front- or all-wheel drive, five-passenger crossover

Power plant: Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic

Weight: NA

Price: $21,895 base including destination ($31,295 as tested for front-wheel drive LT)

Power: 138 horsepower, 148 pound-feet torque

Performance: 0-60 mph: 9.18 secs. (FWD); 10.08 (AWD). Top speed: 116 mph

Fuel economy: EPA estimated 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway/28 mpg combined (FWD); 24/30/27 (AWD)

Report card

Highs: Easy to maneuver, improved updated interior

Lows: Lack of front storage, tiny arm rest only for driver

Overall: 31/2 stars

Grading scale: Excellent ★★★★Good ★★★Fair ★★Poor ★