Opinionated at any speed . . . Silvio Calabi

Chevrolet Trax 2RS

Tue, 08/08/2023 - 12:00pm

For 2024, General Motors wiped the slate clean of the previous Trax, which largely labored in obscurity from 2013 to 2022, and started over again. Much more successfully, too. With a starting price of just $21,495, the Trax is now a bottom-feeder only by definition; the reborn Trax drives like a grown-up SUV—a subcompact SUV, that is—and it needs make no excuses for itself. Well, maybe just one.

The old Trax called to mind a golf cart with full sheet metal. The handsome new Trax looks like a Chevrolet Blazer that was left in the dryer too long. (Do clothes still shrink, or is this too a thing of the past?) The ’24 Trax is comfortably roomy for four people and a large number of grocery bags, and dynamically it is wholly satisfactory.

Only when we hit a freeway on-ramp do the limits of a three-cylinder, 1.2-litre engine become apparent. Turbocharging, smart programming of the 6-speed automatic transmission and 162 pound-feet of torque provide decent performance overall, but a mere 137 horsepower simply can’t run with the big dogs. They can, however, easily achieve any legal speed limit in America while averaging close to 30 miles per gallon.

The new Trax is pleasingly well equipped, too. Standard features include Chevy’s Safety Assist2 package, with forward collision alert, pedestrian recognition and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, and LED headlamps with automatic high beams. All Trax trim levels get active noise cancellation plus cruise control and a high-definition backup camera. An 8-inch-diagonal infotainment screen and 17-inch wheels are standard.

Moving up the ladder—from LS to 1RS, LT, 2RS and finally ACTIV—brings more and more features such as a larger infotainment screen, pushbutton ignition, satnav and tunes via wireless Apple CarPlay4 and Android Auto5, 18- and finally 19-inch wheels, automatic climate control, and seat and steering-wheel heat.

Our upgraded $23,900 Trax 2RS has all of the foregoing plus $1,545 worth of add-ons such as heated wing mirrors, a power slide/tilt sunroof, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, a wireless phone charger and adaptive cruise control. With the destination charge, the all-in sticker price is just $26,540.

The one “excuse” that the Trax has to offer up? It purports to be an SUV, but all-wheel drive is unavailable; all Traxes are front-wheel-drive. As the snow belt shrinks, the demand for AWD may shrink too, and FWD reduces weight and improves gas mileage. In every other important way, the new Trax feels like good value for money.

Next week: Acura Integra Type S