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2015 Chevrolet Trax

2016 Chevrolet Trax LTZ

Base Price: $20,120
Price as Tested: $23,115

One of the newer subcompact CUVs, the Chevrolet Trax doesn’t raise the bar within its crowded segment. Relying on standard and available high-tech features to separate it from its competitors, it’s affordable, competent and, well, a Chevy.

When you are GM’s most accessible brand, it’s tough to deliver a state-of-the-art vehicle of any sort and still manage to keep the price under similar models from other GM divisions. Chevy succeeded in doing so with the latest Impala, but it’s a daunting task. With Buick offering the similarly sized and powered Encore, suits over at Chevrolet had to shave some costs to position Trax pricing below Encore’s. The result: Trax’s product planners managed to check most of the must-have/must-do boxes, but didn’t swing for the fences.

In terms of size, Trax is an ideal urban runabout. Smaller than the Equinox, it shares its platform with the diminutive Sonic 2016 Chevrolet Trax LTZhatchback. Its size comes in handy when parallel parking on a busy city street or maneuvering into the skinny areas that pass for parking spaces in most city garages. Roughly a foot shorter than a Honda Civic Sedan, it casts a small shadow, indeed.

Pipsqueak dimensions on the outside translate into limited space inside. This isn’t unique to Trax. It comes with the small-CUV territory. Trax is on par with Kia’s Soul in front and rear headroom, as well as front legroom. It has less rear-seat legroom than Soul by more than three inches. Soul also provides roughly 30 percent more cargo space behind the second-row seat. Four adults, however, can fit comfortably into Trax.

Get up and go comes from a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Trax is front-wheel drive, but for $1,500 you can opt for AWD. A six-speed automatic transmission hustles engine production to the wheels. I found my test Trax had sufficient pep for the stop-and-go duties of city driving, but required some planning when passing slower vehicles on the highway.

2016 Chevrolet Trax LTZ InteriorFuel economy is quite respectable with a government-estimated 26 mpg in the city, 34 on the highway and 29 in combined city-highway driving. AWD shaves a little from those numbers with 24 mpg city, 31 highway and 27 combined.

Inside, the ride quality is pretty good. You won’t mistake Trax for a larger sedan, but the suspension manages to soak up most surface imperfections. It corners well for a CUV.

I was less than dazzled by Trax’s interior. If you’ve been inside the Sonic, the dashboard and instrument panel in the Trax will look familiar. In fact, several elements are borrowed directly from Sonic. The seats are firm, offering decent side support. All of the controls are easy to find and use. Oddly, there’s no center console, but some additional storage space is found in extra cubbies in the dashboard.

Every Trax from the base LS to the $25,030 LTZ comes with Chevrolet’s MyLink interface with a seven-inch touchscreen. Serving as a monitor for the standard rearview camera, the touchscreen can also oversee smart phones, the audio system and a wide range of apps. Bluetooth connectivity is standard as is a built-in WiFi hotspot. That’s pretty impressive for a $20,000 CUV.

Every Trax also comes with full power accessories, remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, fold-flat front-2016 Chevrolet Trax LTpassenger seat, air conditioning and a six-speaker audio system with iPod interface.

My test Trax was an LT grade that inflated the standard gear list to include cruise control, a household-like 110-volt power outlet, heated outboard mirrors and remote start. My test Chevy also had the $670 LT Plus Package with six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded seating material and rear-park assist.

Even if the Trax isn’t everything it could be, remember, it’s still a pretty good value, especially for techies. It’s exactly what an urban chariot should be in size, performance and fuel economy.