Compact Crossover with Maximum Utility

GM has thrown it’s hat into the ever-growing, ever-fierce compact crossover segment where evidently every automaker wishes to play these days, including the heavy-hitters with the likes of the all-new Porsche Macan and Lexus NX. With fuel prices on the rise and the gargantuan SUV falling out of favour with the masses, the little SUV proposition makes sense.

Particularly for city-dwellers to university students to anyone seeking something affordable offering all-wheel drive and significantly more cargo than a sedan. And for consumers shopping for a 5-passenger compact utility at a compact price, the 2014 Chevrolet Trax makes even more sense, opposed to forking out over fifty-thousand dollars on a premium CUV with all the glitz but less glory.

Now in it’s second year, I had the opportunity to drive the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Trax in Ottawa for the national media release back in late 2012. Even then, it was clear the nibble Trax would do well, and today, it’s one Canada’s top-selling small CUVs. The styling is progressive, the storage is decent, and the sub-$30k price-point makes it all work, starting at $18,695 MSRP CAD.

2014 Chevrolet Trax Test Impressions

Design: Stout yet Sharp and Muscular

The general problem with the compact utility vehicle is this: they’re ugly. Well, they used to be when the majority of manufacturers collectively felt that bubbly and cute equated to small and affordable. Fortunately, automakers veered away from this unpleasant trend, now reverting back to more linear, bolder exterior design cues passed down from the respective, larger SUV siblings. The 2014 Trax is certainly small but still maintains a sharp presence.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

Standard features, including body-matched door handles and side mirrors, silver painted roof rails, halogen headlamps with automatic light control, and deep tinted rear windows and liftgate glass, are just enough exterior touches to lend the Trax some basic character and style. 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in P205/70R16 and 16-inch spare are also standard.

On the road: Nibble Urban-Dweller

Powered by a 138-hp ECOTEC 1.4L turbocharged engine, the Trax is optimized for city driving, with adequate capability to pull out of tight corners quickly with 148 lb-ft of torque at 1850 rpm. Built on the Chevrolet Sonic platform, but around a foot longer and only a few inches taller and wider, the Trax smaller footprint allows it to maneuver well.

…the handling was superb and not a great deal to complain about. But recalling back to my seat time with the 2013 Trax two winters ago — virtually unchanged for 2014 — through the slippery, tight downtown Ottawa roads, I recall the on-demand All-Wheel Drive and electronic stability control system (StabiliTrak) making a positive impact.

Available in either a standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, the 2014 Chevrolet Trax fuel economy is rated best in it’s class at 5.7L/100km, behind the wheel of a FWD, 6-speed manual transmission model Trax.

My recent experience with the all-wheel drive 2014 Chevrolet Trax occurred during the summer months, predominantly on long, expansive, suburban Calgary roads. So, the handling was superb and not a great deal to complain about. But recalling back to my seat time with the 2013 Trax two winters ago — virtually unchanged for 2014 — through the slippery, tight downtown Ottawa roads, I recall the on-demand All-Wheel Drive and electronic stability control system (StabiliTrak) making a positive impact. Paired to the panic brake/Hill Hold assist and traction control, the Chevrolet Trax truly offers maximum utility in a compact size.

2013 Chevy Trax

Interior: Big on the Inside

Inside, the Chevrolet Trax offers a surprisingly spacious cabin. The overall layout and design is nothing mind-blasting, nor should it be — the gauge cluster combines digital readouts with analogue displays while an available MyLink connects to an integrated 7-inch colour touch-screen with access to media via connected smartphone. The layout is straightforward and clean.

2013 Chevy Trax 2013 Chevy Trax

Of the $2,195 in total options on my $25,845 base price all-wheel drive equipped 2014 Chevrolet Trax, majority of this attributed to convenience and comfort upgrades. Including a $775 premium sound package upgrade; a $910 sound and technology package including MyLink Touch and rearview camera, to name a couple; and Trax logo adorned all-weather floor mats for $160. But even at base, the Trax is well-equipped with a 6-speaker enhanced audio system including BlueTooth plus USB and audio jack ports for MP3 compatibility.

Other notable standards found in all Chevrolet Trax include a fold flat passenger seat; a 60/40 flip and fold rear bench including outboard head restraints; rear passenger floor ducts; a 3-prong 110 volt outlet in rear; and illuminated vanity mirrors for driver and passenger.

 

Above all: storage. Chevrolet has done a good job offering ample cargo within a small footprint. There’s a bin at the top of the centre stack, a covered storage area in the instrument panel, an oversized glovebox, dual-level door storage, plus six upholders found throughout the cabin. The flip and fold rear seats are a huge advantage, offering a level load floor for larger items. While additional below-floor cavities provide out-of-sight storage, great for the urban folk frolicking the high-traffic areas.

The Takeaway

Including the C$1600 destination charge and before taxes, my 2014 Chevrolet Trax with all-wheel drive and the 1LT package rings in at C$29,640. With no exterior upgrades necessary, an abundance of cabin upgrades including audio, and the confidence of an all-wheel drive system, this mid-level Chevrolet Trax is worth a look for budget-conscious shoppers seeking a boldly designed, well-equipped compact crossover offering maximum utility in a small, agile size.

2013 Chevy Trax

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Amee is an award-winning motor & lifestyle photographer and writer in the auto niche. His work has been published in various global outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. A member of AJAC and founder/publisher of TractionLife.com, he enjoys travelling and spending time with his kids and family.

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