Welcome to the 2017 Chevrolet Trax review! Chevy brings it’s sub-compact crossover – the 2017 Trax LT – up to speed, giving both beauty and personality a substantial makeover
Dubai has hordes of young and aspiring individuals flying in, looking for new beginnings. In case you are one of them and you’re also probably seeking a road companion defined by affordability, functionality and style… a smallish vehicle something like a sub-compact crossover SUV! With that in mind, we review the 2017 Chevrolet Trax, which has recently been put through a mid-cycle refresh and now comes with a reorganised exterior and retooled interiors. Read on. this may well be your next car!
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
Trax is certainly a peculiar name and those from the Indian sub-continent will associate it with another SUV (with a different spelling) of a rudimentary design. But this is something else! This little people mover has been around since 2013 and has had the aspirations of an SUV; measures just 4,257mm in length and 1,776mm in width. In fact, if you take a run, you could probably jump across the whole length of the car.
This year, the Trax gets a substantial revamp, and it begins with the exteriors. To be honest, it doesn’t take an auto-journalist to say that the looks have gone from ‘Jurassic’ to something modern and chic. A newly proportioned dual port grille and headlamps echo the styling elements seen in new Chevrolet models, like the Camaro and Malibu. As an effect, it does make it look less bulky and more lithe. Even the headlamps have got a new stretched treatment over its predecessor. However, the light they throw isn’t the brightest. So, if you live and drive in the well-lit parts of Dubai, you are fine, but if you get into the more remote areas, you may be left wanting illumination – the halogen projectors don’t quite make the cut. Visibility in the day is guaranteed by the string-like LED DRLs that underline the headlamps. If not, the car’s vibrant livery will do the job of grabbing attention. Our test car wore a bright red colour, but you can get a yellow or a blue – or any other from the 11-colour palette. While the tall profile doesn’t get much of a transformation, the chunky twin-spoke 18-inch wheel design adds a great deal of athleticism. Lesser models get 16-inch wheels. At the rear, the familiar protruding haunches remain, but the tail lamps get restyled LED luminaires that give it some well-deserved character.
There’s more! Change on the Trax isn’t just worn on the body; they’ve messed with its internals as well – in a good way. A modified instrument panel is the foundation for the enhancements. It interprets Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit design, which is Chevy’s way of segmenting areas for the front two occupants. With the revamp comes a 7-inch-diagonal MyLink colour touch screen and Galvano chrome trim as highlights on the instrument panel. The LTZ trim has a contrasting-colour instrument panel that matches its leatherette seating and renders a premium feel. The new instrument gauges get a prominent analog speedometer and tachometer along with digital displays in the standard driver information centre.
The dashboard design is a cohesive concoction of curves that somehow seems well put together, but some of the plastics aren’t the best; then again, when you put the price into perspective, this may just be a bargain.
Take the compact dimensions into consideration and you’re in for a surprise when it comes to interior space. Up front, headroom is ample, thanks to its elevated roof line, and there is good legroom too. One quibble about the dual-tone front seats is that the driver’s side gets an armrest, but the front passenger doesn’t. If it’s any consolation, you do get three cup holders between the seats and that, to me, is a big deal, since I usually have tons of tiny extras in hand, like keys, bottles etc.
The rear cabin shares similar properties with the front, which also means it’s best suited for two adults; three is a squeeze. A pat on the back of Chevy for not dropping seat height, which in some cars, leaves your knees between your ears. But they are a little short in length, so thigh support is questionable over the long haul. As for provisions, you do get the two mandated cup holders on the drop-down arm rest and a sunroof; a small privilege – but it does count!
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
Returning for 2017 is Chevrolet’s Ecotec 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine – its sole choice of motivation – which is rated at an SAE-certified 140 horsepower. Mix it up with a fuss-free 6-speed automatic, a tight turning radius and small footprint, and you have a near perfect antidote for city driving.
In its natural habitat, i.e. the tight bounds of the concrete jungle, the engine comes across as zippy and moves with purpose; on the highway, it does stay rather stable, but can run out of puff a little too quickly. It isn’t the quietest car in its class either. The engine gets noisy at higher rpms when the transmission holds gear longer for a broader spread of torque. The tall profile does little to rattle the general composure of the car around corners and during quick directional changes, as the 18-inch alloys, wrapped in 215 section rubber, stay hooked for the most part, thanks to the engagement of the tarmac-ready all-wheel drive system.
The Trax offers a claimed combined fuel economy of 13.2km/L – which comes second to the Ford EcoSport’s 16.7 km/L – but after a few days behind the wheel, we are pretty sure that the difference is negligible. With a tank capacity of about 53 litres, you won’t be held up at petrol stations too often either. Get the 5-speed manual option with front-wheel drive configuration to save more.
FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
Besides road manners and interiors quality, digital systems are becoming a critical part of how cars are perceived and valued. That’s why almost all cars in the Chevy range have functional and intuitive infotainment units with vivid graphics. We liked the way the onscreen menus and buttons are sized and spaced. Its good touch response makes it the best in class. The musical reproduction of the audio system is of decent clarity but lacks power output. As for connectivity, the Trax allows your phone to hook up quickly using Bluetooth, through which you can stream music. Alternatively, you can plug in a USB drive.
The air conditioner works well for the most part, but I have my apprehensions about the hotter days. Plus, the sun shining down on your arms through the tall windows isn’t the most comfortable feeling. Rear AC vents are truly missed, even though it’s uncommon in the segment.
Depending on the trim, you get safety features like Rear Park Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert and even the Rear Cross Traffic Alert, usually reserved for cars with higher specs.
As for luggage hauling duties and stowage, open up the tailgate and you get 356 litres of space and a rather squarish load space with an easy load height. There is always the option of dropping the 60:40 split rear seats for doubling the space to 785 litres, but your friends will have to take a cab. The glove box is spacious but the door pockets are tiny. Good news is you get a 205-section size spare tyre!
In a world where cars are getting bigger than necessary and more expensive (to the point of unaffordability!), the 2017 Chevrolet Trax deserves a thumbs-up. It’s a compact hatchback with a raised height that offers a good city drive, with some usable infotainment and practical space options. Tweaks like the headlamps and exposure through the tall windows still need a fix. Overall, for a newbie driver in Dubai, it’s a good way to roam the roads of the UAE.
The Trax is based on the GM Gamma II platform, which is shared with the Chevrolet Aveo/Sonic, as well as the Opel Mokka and Buick Encore
Body type: 5-seater; 5-door sub-compact CUV
Engine: Front-engine; 1.8-litre inline 4-cylinder; all-wheel drive
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Peak output: 140 bhp @ 6,300 rpm; 175 Nm @ 3,800 rpm
0 to 100km/h: sub-11 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 180 km/h (drag limited; claimed)
Price: Starting at Dh63,000
Pros: Modern aesthetics applied to exterior and interior; neat infotainment; surprising space for four, not more
Cons: Weak headlamps; tall windows let too much light and heat through; noisy when revved
Editor’s rating: 7/10
2017 Chevrolet Trax review!