The Chevrolet Trax was once on my short list for worst vehicles on the market.
I remember some years ago, before joining TTAC, going to San Diego for the launch of the first-generation Trax. All I could think was that the little runabout was something to be avoided unless you just wanted cheap transport in crossover form.
The 2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ remains affordable, but unlike its predecessor, I actually enjoyed driving it. With the previous gen, I would’ve felt embarrassed to own one. With the current one, I’d not avert my eyes downward and mumble the name “Trax” if someone asked what I drive.
Let’s be clear upfront lest you accuse me of huffing paint during my off hours – the Trax is still no sports car or luxury tourer. It’s not going to be lusted after. But it’s no longer a cynical exercise in filling every segment, nor is it any longer a penalty box.
No, now it’s a sub-$30K small crossover that’s appointed well enough and relatively engaging to drive. Oh, and it’s fuel efficient. Perhaps not the worst choice for the urbanite who needs something cheap and easy to park.
It’s no burner – I’d not expect a ton of punch from a 1.2-liter turbocharged three-cylinder making 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Indeed, acceleration is probably the weakest component of its driving dynamics. It’s not super slow – it holds its own in traffic – but passing and merging will require a little bit of patience.
Where the Trax surprised me, pleasantly, was with ride and handling. Especially handling. Yes, it is a crossover, so you get some body roll, but the turn-in is sharp. The steering is a tad artificial in flavor, but its weighted well and accurate. The stereotype of the nimble urban crossover applies here.
It’s not all about the drive, either – the interior design is interesting, if not attractive (beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all), and the feature list is nice. Even the materials feel relatively nice for the price point – not upscale, but better than you’d expect given the MSRP.
The angular interior design may or may not be your cup of tea, but it does allow for an integrated infotainment screen.
Of course, buying downmarket often means drawbacks, and the Trax’s biggest flaws are slightly cramped quarters and a bit too much noise. And while the interior materials generally feel nicer than you’d expect, there are some occasions in which the vehicle doesn’t feel screwed together super well – a trait I’ve noticed on other inexpensive GM models in the past.
My test unit came equipped with remote start, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry and starting, active noise cancellation, satellite radio, 8-inch digital gauge screen, 11-inch infotainment screen, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, LED headlamps, rear spoiler, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, and a rearview camera.
That was for $23,900. Options included two packages – one that included a sunroof and wireless device charging, and another that included rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert, and adaptive cruise control.
The as-tested price was $26,540.
Unlike the first time I drove a new generation of Trax for the first time, I found myself charmed. No one is going to desire this vehicle – no one is going to put Trax posters on a bedroom wall or as wallpaper on their phone’s home screen – but if you need affordable wheels and/or the utility that’s offered by a small crossover, you won’t feel punished because you chose to, or had to, spend less than 30 large.
Affordable value that doesn’t totally sacrifice fun. What a concept.
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