Thursday, 17 October 2013

REVIEW - Chevrolet Trax LT

Having recently reviewed the Chevrolet Captiva, I was curious as to other models on offer. I discovered that the Captiva has a younger brother; the Trax. With 5-seats and an optional AWD system, it offers the same 'go anywhere' attitude whilst being handy to nip around town in. So what can the Trax offer as a family car? Is it a more viable option than the larger Captiva? Well read on and see how I found my week with the Chevy...

Looks - 9/10

Now when you think of a Chevy, you think of America. And in some respects the Trax has some American-ness in its styling. The Trax is bold, rugged and an imposing front end. The lines are less curvy than it's European brother- the Vauxhall Mokka- but for me that's a good thing. The Trax has a presence, and that's a quality which is often overlooked. Just look at that front end and imagine how that would look filling up your rear view mirror. Almost like the FBI were after you... Being an LT model there were chrome door handles, 18-inch wheels and privacy glass, which really add to that visual impact. I like the flared arches and chunky wing mirrors too.

On the inside things are much more pleasant than I expected. The interior quality is very good, and much better than I expected visually. My favourite element was the seats. I thought the seat pattern was modern and added to the bold exterior lines, whilst the leatherette sides and blue stitching added a more classy dynamic. The steering wheel s chunky yet sleek, and I like the minimalistic dashboard. Even the dial cluster is small, with only one dial and a digital readout. There's some funky air vents, and a fantastic touch screen media centre which sits nicely in the centre of the dash. The only area where I felt the Trax was lacking visually was with the door trims. The plastic was all the same, and there was nothing to break this up, which gave a rather cheap feel. It would have been nice to have some of the blue stitching and/or leatherette featured here.

Handling/Performance - 9/10

There are a decent choice of engines in the Trax, and AWD models are available too. My test car was the 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol engine with AWD. This is a rather good engine, offering 140PS and 200Nm of torque, which are fed to the road via a 6-speed manual gearbox. The Trax gets from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds, and goes on to a top speed of 121mph. That's not too bad at all, and the Trax feels rather nippy from behind the wheel. The 6-speed box does well to offer power whenever you need it, and the turbocharged engine makes sure that as you climb into the rev band there's plenty of go available. Cruising is effortless in the Chevy, and in particular I was impressed at the long 6th gear which reduces revs at motorway speeds making the car quieter and more relaxing.

The handling was rather surprising too. I think it's easy to forget that the Trax isn't actually as big as it looks. It sits rather low, and has a nicely balanced wheelbase. This translates to rather good handling. The turn in is responsive, the steering nicely weighted, and the AWD system gets you round the corners without drama. Where the cornering does fall down in with the seats. As nice as they look, they are somewhat lacking in lateral support which does not bode well when you try to attack a corner. It's not so bad for the driver, who has a steering wheel to hold onto, but you may find your passengers frowning at you. The Trax rides rather well too. It's comfortable on the motorway but has some feel along a more bumpy A road. I got the impression that you could really throw this car around in tough conditions and come out the other side no problem. It would be great to get this car n a gravel track and have a proper play to see how it really copes when the going gets tough. But you should know that on the A682 in the rain it will cope just fine.

Economy - 9/10

Another advantage of the apparent size being greater than the actual is that the Trax isn't a big heavy lump. And because the engine is only 1.4-litres you can get some decent economy out of it if you drive it right. Combined fuel consumption is 44.1mpg, and the Trax emits just 149g/km of carbons. That puts the Trax in VED band F, which means £140 per year, and the same in the first year. There's start/stop technology, and the 6-speed gearbox helps to keep the consumption down when cruising. If you're somebody who travels more miles, then the 1.7-litre diesel engine may be more suitable to requirements, and it too is rather economical.

Practicality - 10/10

Now although I keep saying the Trax isn't actually as big as it looks, you would be forgiven for forgetting this once you step inside. The cabin is rather roomy in terms of leg and head room, and you could seat 5 adults comfortably. The boot is a fantastic size, and if you fold the rear seats down you get even more room. In the cabin there is also a 'proper' plug socket. That's right, the Trax gets a power inverter which is infinitely useful, especially if the kids have gadgets which need charging. As well as this there's heaps of storage in the cabin for just about anything you could want to store.

The Trax doesn't feel big from behind the wheel, so judging gaps and parking is a doddle, and the cruise control helps you to relax on a longer drive. You can live with the Trax with ease. For a family it balances the popular hatchbacks with a bit more space and road presence, and you would struggle to knock it as a way to ferry the kids around.

Fun - 9/10

I found the Trax an extremely refreshing car. It's great to see that you don't need something the size of a palace to be a practical family car. It also shows that you can add a lot of practicality to family hatchbacks, and benefit from more space. Finally the Trax shows that the simple recipe of a decent petrol motor and AWD translates into a lot of fun on the road. No matter what the weather, the Trax will get you some grip, and leave you with a grin on your face. There's the presence in the styling that will make people get out of your way, and I couldn't shake that image in my head of the FBI-looking front end. I like it.

Concluding Remarks

So that's the Chevrolet Trax then. It's an AWD, go-anywhere car but isn't the size of the earth. Nor will it cost you the earth to run. It packs a lot of boldness and presence into a smaller body to give the effect of a much larger car, whilst still being able to zip around towns and villages with ease. The quality is good throughout, and the cabin is a lovely place to be. So would I recommend one? Without a doubt. If you want a family car and perhaps you live in an area which is a bit weather sensitive, or if you just want that secure feeling of a slightly bigger vehicle, then the Trax is for you. Prices for the LT AWD start at £19,795 which seems good enough value to me. If you want to find out more then head on over to the Chevrolet Website or pop into a dealership.

Total Score - 46/50


  1. Just wondering how it performs offroad, does it manage to soak up the bumps like a 4x4 should or does it feel like any other hatchback.

    1. I never got to do any 'proper' off-roading in the Trax, but I did get to drive it on a few looser surfaces and drenched country roads. It soaks up the bumps rather nicely, and with the AWD has an impressive level of grip. The LT even gets hill descent control. However you can probably see that it does sit relatively low off the ground, so I don't think it's the car for a serious off-road trip. If i ever get to play with one in a field, I'll let you know!

      Thanks for the comment, and if you have any more questions give me a shout!

    2. Thanks Dan.

      Yes i`m more thinking about country dirt tracks, we recently moved to a house at the end of a 1/2 mile track which has lots of bumps and gets muddy in the wet. Our current car the Honda Jazz bounces all over the place so want something a bit more comfortable.

    3. No problem John. I would expect the Trax to cope just fine with the track. Depending on how muddy it gets a diesel may be more appropriate given its 300Nm of torque over the 1.4T's 200Nm.

      Hope this helps,