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Chevrolet Trax: ‘Cute ute’ provides ideal entry-level standards

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Last year’s Trax got a refresh that really added some nice touches to Chevrolet’s entry-level subcompact crossover and this year’s lineup gets a new Special Edition model to further expand the offerings to a market hungry for these ‘cute utes.’

The real story about Trax is the starting price at $21,000. The biggest challenge for this price point is if you get great features or elevated standard equipment in one area, it typically means you will likely have to accept lesser levels somewhere else. Most buyers in this level of vehicle are very willing to make that tradeoff and that’s a huge bonus for the Trax.

The Trax lineup consists of the entry-level LS and mid-level LT trims, Premier trim and special Redline Edition package, which is available only on the LT trim. On the outside, the Trax falls into line with much of the Chevy lineup by reflecting similar exterior design cues such as new front fascia, dual-element grille and a new hood.

New for 2018

Updates for 2018 include a new Redline Edition package with a unique black grille, black 18-inch wheels with red accents, black mirror caps, black Chevy bowtie emblems in the front and rear, and Jet Black premium cloth and leatherette upholstery inside. Three new exterior colors include Storm Blue Metallic, Cajun Red Tintcoat and Sandy Ridge Metallic.

Trax-ion

In its standard configuration, the Trax is front-wheel-drive, though all-wheel drive can be added at all trim levels. When it detects low traction, the AWD system can send up to 50 percent of torque to either front wheel and up to 85 percent to either rear wheel to provide additional grip and stability. When equipped with AWD, fuel economy numbers drop slightly to 24 city/30 highway.

Standard Features

The base LS gets power-adjustable side mirrors and halogen reflector headlights as standard features, and the LT and Premium upgrade to heated power mirrors and halogen projector headlights. Other standard exterior features for the LT and Premium trims include LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, and roof rails, and the Premium adds front foglights. The LS and LT trims ride on 16-inch wheels, which upgrade to 18-inch wheels on the Premium. The top-level Premier trim gets a sunroof, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning as new standard features. A recent tech update offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an additional USB port. A rearview camera is standard across the entire model range.

Safety

Look for a host of contemporary driver aids, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning. The addition of these safety features, along with a five-star crash test rating from NHTSA and the IIHS’s highest rating (“Good”) marks the 2018 Chevrolet Trax as one of the safest models in its class.

Creature Comfort

Inside, the dash has a flowing design that provides excellent visual access to essential gauges and easy reach for buttons/knobs. Front head- and legroom are quite generous for such a little car, though the seats are a bit narrow. Two rear seat passengers will be comfortable with decent headroom and reasonable legroom.

Cargo capacity is 18.7 cubic feet with the rear seat deployed, and expands to 48.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. Trax requires folding the seat bottoms forward to get a flat load surface.

Performance

The Trax offers a 138-horsepower turbo I-4 engine with 148 lb.-ft. of torque. The 1.4-liter powerplant is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Given the diminutive footprint Trax has on the road, it is incredibly adept at moving around town and easily parking in the smallest spots.

The Trax is not sporty in the sense of the engine thrusting you forward with any aggressive response; however, it can be fun to drive as it can easily get around where other larger cars cannot.