As the price of oil bounces back in the last couple of weeks and in pace with high driving season, Canadians’ love affair with compact and fuel-sipping vehicles may get a boost.
Don’t we also live with a boom of SUV’s and crossovers?
Among so many choices on the market, the Chevrolet Trax may attract more attention than ever.
If you can live with an “ultra-compact” crossover and have an urbanite style, you may easily short-list this cute and tiny GM product instead of a larger-than-life GMC Yukon XL or Chevrolet Suburban from the same house.
My test vehicle was the range-topping 2015 LTZ AWD, as it was usually the case with press vehicles. At $31,625 before destination charge, this model is at least 50 per cent more expensive than the starting price (which is just north of twenty grand). Just the price difference would practically buy you another vehicle, even if Canada’s cheapest (guess what). If you need all-wheel-drive, rear view camera, better audio, bigger wheels, touch screen controls, sunroof and leatherette, and want to create your luxurious mini-SUV, this vehicle may be just for you.
The 1.4 litre turbocharged engine producing 138 horsepower serves also other models across the GM model-range from the Chevrolet Cruze to Buick Verano. This is the only engine option for the Trax. It generates 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,850 rpm. The six-speed automatic quickly shifts up to fuel-saving mode, and there is some manual control via tiny plus and minus buttons on the shift knob. During my one-week test drive, I usually had the impression that there was a mismatch between the engine and the transmission. Downshifts during acceleration was lagging behind the driver’s request and you were forced to stay at low revs.
The ride quality was very good and well-tuned between hard and comfortable. I detected some German fingerprints (!) (Keyword Opel). Steering feel is good with adequate feedback and gives even a sporty character. The short wheelbase makes a nice different while driving in city streets with a lot of cornering.
No matter in which class a vehicle competes today, design language is highly important. Apart from its upscale cousin, Buick Encore, the Trax has competitors like the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi RVR and Kia Soul. The Chevy’s styling looks more conservative than its Asian competitors.
The material quality and craftsmanship inside is good for this price category. Three big, conventional and easy-to-use knobs control climate. Other functions on the touch screen may be appealing to young, digitally born drivers who see their car as an extension of their smartphones. Maybe this is exactly GM’s intention to lure young buyers. But these controls are simply distracting to me, some fine-tuning work remains to be done.
Forget what I said above: Once you start seeing the touch screen menus as your computer on the road and look at those features independently from the vehicle itself (if it makes sense), the menus are easy to navigate, and getting connected is easy.
Sitting high and vertical is good for visibility in any vehicle. The Trax design improves this feature further. Also in the backseat, the head and leg room are good for a vehicle of this size. SUV’s are better than traditional sedans, because they are “more three-dimensional”
With flat-folded back seats the Trax offers 1,371 litres of space. Good enough even for a monthly shopping at Costco for a young family.
After a week of mixed use on the highway and the city, my average consumption was 9.8 liters. Not surprisingly this real-world figure is above the theoretical consumption of 8.7 liters.
The Trax is another step that helps North America to embrace small cars and SUV’s. Small vehicles can be beautiful and functional at the same time. Subjectively, I liked the Trax’s overall design (exterior and interior). In its over qualifications, Chevy’s subcompact SUV is a mediocre product.
The products ranging from the Trax to the huge Suburban show how broad the model range of GM’s biggest brand is. It designing and selling compact vehicles like the Trax, GM probably learned how to make more use of know-how and experience of its European subsidiary, Opel.
Type of vehicle: Subcompact SUV
Engine: 1.4 liter, 4-cylinder DOHC, Turbocharged, HP, lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): CAD 30,425 / 33.275
Destination charge: CAD 1,650
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): city; 9.7 highway;7.6 as-tested; 10.6
Optional features: Sunroof- Express Open: $1,100
Article: Varol McKars
Pictures: Varol McKars,
Test vehicle was provided by General Motors Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)
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