May 30, 2024
Wheels

Trax is a value buy in subcompact crossover segment

Chevrolet delivers big in highly competitive arena

The 2024 Chevrolet Trax RS shows off a facelift that makes it one of the most compelling subcompacts out there.

If you own a previous generation of the Chevrolet Trax crossover, let me start by apologizing. This review is going to give you a real reason for buyer’s remorse. It’s not often a vehicle gets a makeover and so incredibly changes its appeal like the 2024 Chevrolet Trax 2RS did for me.

I think the previous generation Trax was one of the least compelling vehicles I’d driven over the last few years, sans a Fiat or three. For 2024, Chevy came out swinging for the fences – and crushed it.

Two things jump out as the crown achievements of the new Trax. First, the price; and second, the exterior aesthetic. For a few years now, I have been blown away by the runaway costs of new vehicles. These days, it seems like everything starts at $39,999. The subcompact segment is incredibly competitive and it was a shocker when I saw Trax has a base price of $20,400.

Chevy didn’t have to do much to exceed the lackluster looks of the previous Trax, but boy did it step up to the plate and make contact. The 2024 Trax is a handsome extrovert who easily hangs with stars from the Kia and Honda stables. It even nudges right up to my favorite – the Mazda CX-30.

The Trax’s excitement starts with the front fascia. It features an aggressive, large grille that rolls around the corners into sleek LED accent lights. The primary headlights reside lower on the bumper flanking the grille. The profile is low and lean and with the bold Cayenne Orange hue it got plenty of deserved attention.

My 2RS tester featured 19-inch black machined rims that gave the Trax a sporty feel. Black moldings and trim were used sparingly and, along with the rear roof spoiler and black roof rails, the Trax looks like, well, nothing like the old Trax!

This is a bigger Chevy Trax than the previous model and the word “value” must be used to elevate expectations for what was a rare surprise review for me, and a wonderful week of trying to figure out how they did it.

Creating value

As the entry point for General Motors’ buyers, Chevy has gotten good at cutting corners without going off the rails. The interior of the Trax is one place they save buyers money by utilizing some hard plastics and basic, no-frills upholstery for the seats.

While the seats were basic (but comfortable), they did offer a really nice touch for the young owners with a bold red seatbelt – a very nice accent to the interior black scheme.

Sparse is a good word to describe the Trax’s overall interior space. The Trax interior is fairly noisy inside and it will not win awards, but it is very effective in making passengers comfortable, providing excellent driver visibility, and offering ample safety and convenience tech.

Trax offers a decent amount of cargo space and surprising legroom for both front and rear passengers. Featuring 54.1 cubic feet behind the first row, and 25.6 cubic feet behind the second row, Trax makes the most of its smallish footprint.

Front passengers will find analog gauges and a basic 8-inch touchscreen on the Trax LS and 1RS, but the LT, 2RS, and Activ trims add a larger, much nicer 11-inch touchscreen with a fully digital 8-inch instrument cluster. I found the center to be very easy to see and well thought out for intuitive use.

Look for Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. My tester featured an $895 Sunroof package that helped open up the cabin and made it feel bigger. The package also includes a great wireless charging pad in the center console.

Performance

Creating value in the Trax is also achieved by offering just one powertrain and no all-wheel drive. A 1.2-liter turbo mated to a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission is not going to win any innovation or achievement awards, though it does make that $20K starting price possible.

Overall, the Trax does what it has to, but this segment of subcompact crossovers does not try to be big in the performance arena. Lacking all-wheel drive is probably its only real deficiency with the competition. Fuel economy is good at 28 City/32 Highway/30 Combined.

The turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine generates 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The 6-speed automatic is the right mate for the engine, but it struggles to get the Trax moving anywhere quickly.

Chevy hit it out of the park with the all-new Trax. With a few add-on packages ($2,085), and a $1,095 destination charge, my Trax 2RS had a final price of just $27,080. That value and, if you want one at an even lower price, you can get one.

• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and new vehicles.