2017 Chevrolet Trax Premier Review

The struggle for mediocrity is real

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Better looks than its predecessor, solid tech package, good steering and handling, a breeze to park, seriously convenient snack size.
Negatives: Still looks like a toaster on wheels, cheap interior bits, weird smashed gauges, narrow seat backs, noisy engine, hard to take seriously.
Bottom Line: Chevy made its smallest crossover look much better, but the small crossover segment has yet to produce a truly great model. The Trax would fare better with improved interior materials and design and a less emasculating overall design. For those who want to sit a bit taller and have all-wheel drive, it's merely an acceptable choice. The competition does it better.
 View Our 2017 Chevrolet Trax Overview
If you required any evidence that crossovers are hot, look no further than the Chevy Trax (and sister car, the Buick Encore). The fact that these two tiny crossovers just went through a redesign points to the growth of this burgeoning segment. Chevy's use of the small Sonic sedan platform means it's hard to mask the Trax's size. What the Trax gains in height might not exactly compute in terms of actual daily usability and comfort. We took to the streets with the new Trax for a week to see what it was all about. Read on for our full review.

Driving Experience



What the Trax lacks in power, it almost makes up for in terms of comfort and steering. That being said, the Trax only has one engine choice, and it's not a strong one. The turbocharged 1.4-liter four cylinder has to work hard, and the added weight of the all-wheel drive system doesn't do it any favors. If your expectations of its power, or lack thereof, are realistic, the Trax does fine for everyday driving, and its strong suits in this department are its ease to park, good handling, and its spritely maneuverability.

Ride Quality: Despite the Trax's short wheelbase, it rides comfortably and smoothly. It's almost surprising.

Acceleration: On the weak side. The throttle response is slow, and 60 mph comes in a little over 9 seconds. Don't try to pass anyone at highway speeds unless you have a lot of room and no headwind.

Braking: The Trax has good, progressive brakes with good pedal feel.

Steering: Steering feedback is decent, and turn-in is quick.

Handling: For such a relatively tall vehicle, the Trax keeps its body roll in check. It's actually pretty good in the turns.




The good thing about the Trax in terms of tech is that every trim level comes standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Nice touches like LTE 4G WiFi capability and OnStar make the package look very attractive, indeed.

Infotainment System: The screen is crisp and easy to read. We had no problem navigating the menu and making selections. The screen is nicely responsive.

Controls: Physical knobs for audio and climate control work well and are easy to modulate. The steering wheel controls also worked well.

Bluetooth Pairing: Smartphone pairing was easy, and the AppleCar Play function kicked in quickly when our device was plugged in. Very nice.

Voice Call Quality: Clear transmission on numerous phone calls without any issues.




We like the updates to the Trax made in the 2017 model year, but the overall look is still on this side of awkwardness. It's very hard to hide its visual and actual height. It just looks like a small car trying to be big, and it doesn't really work.

Front: The bolder split grille and clean headlights look good but get betrayed by the oversized foglight housings. The face and the "rugged" faux skid plate also can't hide the look of the really narrow cabin that's obvious from the front.

Rear: The fenders and taillights bulge out unattractively, and the slab rear liftgate with its huge chrome strip make the rear glass look way too small.

Profile: Though the proportions and styling from the side view are pretty good, the shrunken-head size of the Trax messes things up.

Cabin: We couldn't help but feel that everything was smushed to fit in a dinky, narrow cabin. Nothing about the styling looked appealing to us. We had hoped for a little more.




There's no mistaking this for anywhere approaching mid-sized inside. Though six-footers can drive with decent legroom, the overall feel is cramped.

Front Seats: About average in terms of bolstering, but there's not much shoulder width, and we're not linebackers. The vinyl is decent, but we wish there was a leather option in the top trim vehicle.

Rear Seats: Cramped for average adults with seats that are flat. No long trips for passengers, please.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Aside from the engine that tends to get overworked under hard acceleration, the cabin is quiet and vibration-free.

Visibility: Great outward visibility via the front and sides. The rear glass is on the small side, so the rearview camera is a plus.

Climate: There's no automatic climate control here, but the knobs and system work well, emitting good heat via the vents and seats.




The Trax has been tested and did decently but didn't garner any awards. Good thing the options list for safety tech has been upped to complement the solid set of standard stuff on our Premier test car.

IIHS Rating: The Trax scored "good" in every crash test but only attained "basic" in front crash prevention and "acceptable" in LATCH system ease of use.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with a rear vision camera, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist, and OnStar with a 3-month service w/ automatic crash response. It's a strong standard set at this price.

Optional Tech: Chevy nicely added forward-collision warning, and lane-departure alert as part of the options list.




Like the outside appearance, the inside is on the tiny side. Thankfully, it's usable space, but don't look to carry anything significant with it. The 60/40 split folding seats are also awkward to deploy to maximize the cargo capacity.

Storage Space: We didn't expect anything out-of-this-world awesome in terms of storage space. The Trax is merely okay in this department, with a good-sized cubby in front of the shifter, two cupholders in the center console and a squarish cubby behind them.

Cargo Room: You have to fold the 2nd-row seat cushions forward to push the seatback down. With the seats in place, you only get 19 cubic feet of cargo space, 5 fewer than its direct competitor, the Honda HR-V.

Fuel Economy



We were hoping we'd see better mileage numbers from this economy crossover, but that was not the case. Sure, we tend to drive it a bit hard, but even during more tepid conditions, we never saw the EPA ratings in city or highway. It's too bad since the lack of power should've equated to better numbers.

Observed: 23.2 in combined driving.

Distance Driven: 183.7 miles.

Driving Factors: We drove the Trax pretty aggressively on city streets but more tame on open highways. Efficiency or power were never its strengths.




Perhaps its the small cabin that doesn't contribute to a great aural experience. We though the ugpraded BOSE system was decent, but it didn't blow our socks off. Sound was clear and distortion-free but lacked fullness and bass.

Final Thoughts

We like the idea of a compact crossover since it works well for so many folks, but Chevy really needs to rethink the Trax. It feels like an afterthought in pursuit of a dream. The styling isn't very appealing, nor is the performance or the levels of space or comfort. The efficiency lags, too. We're hard-pressed to find any particular strength, and at nearly $29K, the price of the Premier isn't exactly attractive. The Mazda CX-3 drives better and looks better, the Honda HR-V is more comfortable, is easier to load and gets better gas mileage. There are better choices out there.
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