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2015 Chevrolet Trax Review

Every couple's first car.

SAN DIEGO, California - Finally your days as a pathetically lonely person in a bare apartment have ended. You inexplicably find yourself as part of a couple, and suddenly a household must be assembled. The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is the perfect vehicle for you.

The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is cheap to buy and cheap to drive. You can park it without guilt on the street, under a carport, or in the driveway (never indoors). When you do your errands on a Saturday to the grocery, the big-box store, the landscaping place, and maybe the dog park, the Trax will seem like a miracle of practicality.

The utility vehicle has officially now replaced the sedan as the majority of new car purchases, according to data from IHS Automotive, and this makes you realize why. The Chevy Trax is exactly what all young couples need.

Subcompact SUVs headed our way

The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is just the first of a wave of subcompact crossover utilities that are coming ashore in the U.S. this year, including the Fiat 500X, Mazda CX-3, and Jeep Renegade. We're told that there will be a dozen of them by 2018, part of an amazing variety that have already gone on sale in more than 50 countries. (The Trax has been available in 66 countries since its 2012 introduction.) It turns out that the appeal of so much utility in so small and affordable a package has universal appeal.

There's a pretty good foundation for making a start in life here in the 2015 Chevrolet Trax since it's built around the hardware of the Chevy Sonic, a small, lively car that we like to drive. While the Sonic is built right here in Michigan, the Trax will come to us directly from South Korea, where much of Sonic's styling and basic engineering has been done. You might recognize it as a sibling of the goofy-looking Buick Encore, which has proven to be a wild success in both China and the U.S.

Sized for running errands and saving money

Behind its great-looking Chevy face, reminiscent of the now-gone Chevy HHR, the Trax stretches 168.5 inches inches on a wheelbase of 100.6 inches. This sounds pocketsize -- indeed, it's shorter than a Honda Civic -- yet the upright packaging of the passengers makes this crossover far more comfortable on the inside than it looks on the outside. The cabin measures out to 92.8 cubic feet for the passengers, 18.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the second-row seat and 48.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity when the second-row seat is folded flat.

Some other numbers that you might appreciate would be the 138 hp of the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine with its six-speed automatic transmission, the 3,136 pounds of this lightweight package in its front-wheel-drive configuration (all-wheel drive is also available), and the EPA rating for the FWD model of 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway. Speaking of good numbers, you'll appreciate that the price of the base model Trax LS starts at $21,870 while the AWD 2015 Trax LS starts at $23,370 (all-wheel drive is just $1,500 extra).

Hauling the load, human and otherwise

For all the back-to-basics practicality of the Trax package, this is not some screaming cheap thing with rubber floormats. Compared to the Chevy Trax available in Canada, the suspension action has been refined and rounds off the bumps quite effectively, especially when you choose the front-wheel-drive model with its 16-inch tires. The electric-assist power steering has been tuned to deliver firmer effort and more on-center feel, and while this tuning is usually a recipe for disaster in a system where the electric motor is attached to the steering column (as it is here) rather than the steering rack, the 2015 Trax feels fine to us.

The ride is a little lively on the highway, but not bad. And since you're unlikely to travel to distant places with a little ute like this, you should be more concerned with engine noise around town, where you're on and off the gas very frequently. In this respect the Trax also seems pretty decent, and an acoustically insulated windshield and a thick acoustic blanket on the front bulkhead help to keep things quiet.

More important, the interior trim is great in the LT, and we don't think we'd pay extra for the top-of-the-line LTZ trim. In the LT, there's a sophisticated array of audio features that talk with your smartphone (notably BringGo navigation and Siri Eyes Free for iPhone) plus a standard rearview camera.

The things they carried

But the real deal here is what the 2015 Chevrolet Trax can carry. After all, it is a utility vehicle, right? First you start out with 15 interior storage compartments, which seem like a lot to us. Then there's the 60/40-split folding rear seat, plus a front passenger seat with a backrest that not only folds but also incorporates a plastic-covered rear surface to withstand abrasion from cargo.

All this has more than just theoretical application, too. As the 2015 Chevrolet Trax chief engineer told us, he came home from a sale at his local nursery with four evergreen saplings, each with a big root ball wrapped in burlap. Just about 400 pounds of landscaping, and he laid the trees into the interior and across the folded flat back of the front passenger seat and came home with just a little bit of green rubbed into the dash.

Later he went shopping for a 42-inch flat-screen TV with his 13-year-old daughter and predictably came out of the store with a 60-inch model. Once they opened the rear hatch and looked at the interior of the Trax, it came to them that perhaps they had overshopped. His daughter asked, "Will it fit?" Naturally, he replied with blind male optimism, "It will." And with the front seats scrunched all the way forward, it did. Think of the money you'll save on delivery charges!

2015 Chevrolet Trax LT Specifications

  • On Sale: January 2015
  • Price: $23,320/$23,815 (base/as tested)
  • Engine: 1.4L turbocharged SOHC 16-valve I-4/138 hp @ 4,900 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ 1,850 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD/AWD sport-utility
  • EPA Mileage: 24-26/31-34 mpg city/hwy
  • L x W x H: 168.5 x 69.9 x 65.9 in
  • Wheelbase: 100.6 in
  • Weight: 3,136 lb (FWD LT)