Chevrolet Trax: Creature Comforts Galore
Generally, an engine with more cylinders produces more power, while an engine with fewer cylinders gets better fuel economy. Those are great rules to live by. Unless, that is, you’re talking about the Chevrolet Trax.
The reason for this is new technology that brings these two disparities closer to each other by squeezing out more power from smaller engines. This is why, as engine sizes become smaller but horsepower and torque values become stronger, it may be difficult for most of us to imagine a vehicle tagged as an SUV to do its job with an inline-four 1.8-liter engine. The Chevrolet Trax is one of the new-tech exceptions.
The sub-compact SUV manages to develop 138 bhp and 175 Nm of torque, taking it from zero to 100 kph in about 11 seconds, while still maintaining a fairly low fuel-consumption profile because of its small engine. Why are those torque and horsepower numbers significant? The Trax delivers more than 76 horses per liter of engine displacement. Comparatively, the 1967 Mustang Shelby Fastback GT500 – one of the most iconic performance cars ever built – delivered 485 bhp from a 7-liter V8, which works out to 69 horses per liter while consuming more than three times the fuel!
Helping it along is a 6-speed automatic transmission that is nice and smooth, with very little feedback at each change. Not as smooth in the downshifts as a CVT, but you can hardly tell the difference.
Of course, the Trax is not the only sub-compact SUV that delivers the enhanced performance, but it certainly is the better-looking and perhaps the better-built of the bunch. Plus the Bowtie badge gives it a higher degree of respect than most of it (usually Japanese or Korean) peers.
The confidence begins when you shut the door after getting behind the wheel. There’s a satisfying ‘thunk’ that speaks volumes of the build quality. The next thing to strike you is the surprising spaciousness across the front row. This is somewhat diluted when tall people get into the rear seat and start hunting for nooks in which to tuck their knees. For a family of two adults and two to three kids, however, the Trax is a great option.
Headroom is excellent without compromising any of the crucial visibility necessary for a safe driving
experience. Safety features include airbags in front, anti-lock braking system, and traction control and stability control systems.
A quirky design feature on the Trax gets rid of the central storage box, which in most vehicles also doubles as the elbow rest, and gives the driver a folding arm rest, much like the ones you may have experienced in a Range Rover. This has allowed the designer to add more than two cup holder in the well between the front seats, which is also accessible from the back seat. In fact, the sheer variety of storage areas in the Trax ought to be a feature in-and-of itself. In addition to the glove compartment, there is gigantic storage in the doors, over the center of the console, and below the seats.
Turn the key in the ignition and a surprise awaits you on the information display console. The Trax has moved away from the standard two-dial layout and gives you a circular rev counter paired to a rectangular strip that displays the vehicle speed digitally as well as the other required data like odometer, trip counters, cruise control information and the like. The entire console is thoughtfully designed to provide the most important information to the driver as the most prominent, and is also extremely pleasing to the eye.
Even the non-top-end model that we drove provided steering mounted audio and phone controls as well as cruise control and parking sensors. The computer that regulates the cruise control, however, is not very robust, and we recorded variances of 3-4 kph from the set speed depending on road gradients. It would make sense to set the cruise speed at least 5 kph below the allowable top speed on any road.
The sound system is one of the best features of the Trax’s cabin, belting out crystal clear highs and reverberating lows from your favorite music, whether it comes from your phone, MP3 player, CD or the radio. Connectivity includes Bluetooth, auxiliary cable and USB, and setting up a new device connection is fairly simple.
The Trax’s engine size may make it tough to get going from a dead stop, but once you are rolling, the experience is seamless. For our money, this is one of the best sub-compact SUVs out there, even though it may make a marginally larger dent in your wallet.
|Good looks; good build||Cramped rear seating|
|Excellent sound system|
|Good fuel efficiency|
|Spacious front seat|
The Sub-compact Inline 4 SUV shootout
|Chevrolet Trax||Daihatsu Terios||Renault Duster||Ford Ecosport|
|Engine||1.8L I4 FWD/4WD||1.5L I4 4WD||2.0L I4 FWD/4WD||1.5L I4 FWD|
|Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)||8.2||7.9||7.8||6.5|
|0-100 kph (sec.)||11.3||14.0||10.7||13.4|
|Top Speed (kph)||180||160||178||175|