Chevrolet introduced its pint-size crossover SUV, the Trax, to American shoppers in 2015. For people wanting something smaller and less expensive than the Chevy Equinox, the Trax has been a viable alternative on the Chevy dealer lot. But compared to other subcompact crossovers, it has left us underwhelmed. The 2017 Trax gets a major update, so it's a fair question to wonder whether it is now a serious contender or if it is just spinning its wheels in the mud.
The exterior differences between the 2016 and 2017 Trax are immediately obvious. The refreshed car has new grille and headlight designs, both of which look similar to newer Chevy vehicles such as the Spark and Sonic. Inside, the instrument panel has a more traditional and flowing look to it, which we like better than last year's blocky dash. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone app integration are new this year and relegate navigation duties to your phone's default app rather than the last year's BringGo premium app. Several new options are available as well, such as keyless entry and ignition and advanced safety features.
Unfortunately, Chevrolet didn't address all of the Trax's existing deficiencies. The Trax is still a relative underperformer for fuel economy, and its ride quality on rough roads isn't the smoothest. If these are areas of concern, you might be happier with one of the Trax's rivals. The sporty Mazda CX-3 and the roomy Honda HR-V are smart choices, and they deliver excellent fuel economy to boot. The Jeep Renegade brings a bit of off-road ruggedness to the mix, while its corporate cousin, the Fiat 500X, upstages the Trax with its Italian design. Overall, though, the 2017 Trax is more attractive and competitive this year, and it's certainly worth a look if interior space is a priority.
The 2017 Chevrolet Trax comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.
Front-wheel-drive models have front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, while all-wheel-drive versions have four-wheel disc brakes. At the Edmunds test track, an LTZ AWD came to a halt from 60 mph in 120 feet, and an LT required 122 feet. Both stopping distances are about average for this class.
A rearview camera is standard on all versions, and additional advanced safety features are standard or optional depending on trim. The Driver Confidence package (standard on Premier and optional for the LT) includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Premier's Driver Confidence II package adds forward collision alert and lane departure warning.
In government crash tests, the 2017 Trax received a top five-star rating overall, with five stars for total front-impact safety and five stars for total side crash safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Trax its highest possible rating of Good in its small-overlap and moderate-overlap front-impact tests as well as a Good score for the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Chevrolet Trax subcompact crossover is offered in LS, LT and Premier trim levels. Each is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment on the LS includes 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a driver information display, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, power lumbar adjustment for the driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat and a rear cargo cover. Standard electronic features include the Chevrolet MyLink interface with a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app integration, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, OnStar (with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot) and a six-speaker sound system with two USB ports and an auxiliary audio jack. All-wheel-drive models get alloy wheels.
The LT trim adds alloy wheels, roof rails, upgraded headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, silver-colored exterior elements, rear privacy glass, cruise control, remote engine start, heated outside mirrors, a storage drawer under the front passenger seat, upgraded cloth upholstery, a 110-volt household-style power outlet and satellite radio.
The LT is available with several features packages. The Sun and Sound package consists of a seven-speaker Bose audio system and a sunroof. The LT Convenience package adds keyless entry and ignition, a six-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cloth/leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery. The Driver Confidence package includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
Going with the Premier gets you all the above features except the sunroof (which is available as a stand-alone option). Also included are 18-inch alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats and full leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery.
The Premier is available with the Driver Confidence II package, which adds forward collision and lane departure warning systems.
Every 2017 Chevrolet Trax comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds testing, a Trax LTZ (the Premier's previous name) with all-wheel drive accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds flat. A front-wheel-drive Trax was quicker at 8.9 seconds. These are average times for a subcompact crossover SUV.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy figures are 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway) with front-wheel drive and 27 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway) with all-wheel drive. These are respectable figures for this class of vehicle, but similar to our experience with the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze (which share this turbocharged 1.4-liter engine), we've found it difficult to achieve the EPA's ratings in real-world driving.
With its small, urban-oriented footprint, the 2017 Chevrolet Trax is both easier to park and more maneuverable than larger crossovers. The LS and LT models are better riding because of their 16-inch wheels, but even so the ride can get choppy. It gets worse with the LTZ model and its 18-inch wheels. A busy ride, combined with the Trax's short wheelbase and somewhat vague steering, can generate a lack of straight-line stability on the highway, and you'll likely find yourself making frequent, albeit minor, steering corrections. When driven enthusiastically around turns, the Trax is competent, but the uncommunicative steering and modest tire grip prevent drivers from enjoying any real engagement.
The engine's performance is just adequate. Although the Trax's engine proves reasonably responsive in city driving, its lack of punch on the highway means merging and passing maneuvers require planning and patience. Regrettably, this is something that's pretty common for this class of vehicle; only the Nissan Juke can accelerate with any real sense of vigor. We do like the Trax's six-speed automatic transmission, though, which shifts smoothly and quickly enough to wring the most out of the engine's limited power.
Despite its small size, the 2017 Chevrolet Trax gives you plenty of useful interior space. Although the front seats are narrow, front-seat headroom and legroom are plentiful, while the rear seat has enough room for a pair of adults, provided neither is over 6 feet tall.
The Trax rear luggage area has a modest 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space, and though that's more than the average sedan's trunk (assuming you pack up to the roof), there's not much utility in a vehicle sold as a sport-utility. The rear seats fold down to expand that to 48.4 cubic feet; lifting the seat bottoms first allows for a flat load floor, which is viable when trying to maximize available cargo space. Those 48 cubes are on par with the Mazda CX-3 but constitute less total volume than vehicles such as the Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V or Subaru XV Crosstrek.
Aside from the relatively small cargo area, the biggest issue is the substandard quality of the interior materials. Hard plastic covers most interior surfaces, and the handful of soft-touch surfaces don't impress as substantial when viewed or touched. Another example of cost-cutting is the absence of a center console, which impacts available interior storage.
The Trax's standard MyLink interface features a 7-inch touchscreen on the dash that links with your smartphone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software. Both provide access to your music library, podcasts, navigation and certain apps such as Spotify. On the downside, the MyLink touchscreen can be slow and sometimes fails to register touch inputs, which can be frustrating.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.