2017 Chevrolet Trax

PHOENIX — It’s been just two years since Chevrolet introduced its diminutive four-door, five-passenger crossover to the booming utility vehicle segment. GM has sent the Trax back for a refreshing to its front and rear looks, interior, and has made a few other minor changes in response to increased competition in the segment. The refresh also addressed some of Trax’s initial flaws.

Nothing has changed under the hood, with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine connected to the six-speed automatic transmission remaining. It still comes standard with front-wheel drive, and offers an optional all-wheel drive system for an additional $1500.

The most noticeable change for the 2017 Trax is the new front grille and headlamps that mimic the look of the rest of the Chevy lineup. There’s also a new rear fascia and taillights, along with dual exhausts. As minor as the changes are, they definitely improve the looks over the 2016 model.

Three trim levels are offered: base LS, LT and Premier (replacing the outgoing LTZ). We drove the Premier trim with all-wheel drive.

Inside, Trax gets an entirely new dashboard and instrument cluster that looks just like the Chevy Cruze. A new infotainment system has a seven-inch screen, includes 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity for up to seven devices, and features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The layout of center screen, climate controls, switchgear, new push-button start and proximity key and operating controls are all just fine.

Because of its very small size — comparable to Mini Cooper Countryman —seats are narrow and space at a premium, with both the door panels and center console crowding the driver and passengers. The driver’s seat has an inboard armrest, the front passenger’s seat does not. Cloth seating is standard with cloth and leatherette available; full leatherette was standard on our Premium model.

The 60/40-split rear seat accommodates two adults fairly comfortably and three in an absolute necessity. Cargo space reaches 48 cubic feet with the back seats folded and 19 feet behind the rear seat with the seats in the upright position.

For 2017, Trax now offers a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, rear-park assist and lane-departure warning, all depending on which trim level is selected. A rearview backup camera and 10 air bags are standard on all models.

On the road, Trax rides better than one would expect, especially when equipped with the larger 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires that transfer more road impact and noise into the cabin. Still, the ride is choppy and bouncy at times on rough roads because of the soft suspension and short wheelbase. But handling is nimble and getting into tight parking spots is a breeze. 

One of the biggest drawbacks is the four-cylinder engine. It’s excessively noisy and strains under hard acceleration when passing or getting up to highway speeds. It’s definitely more comfortable around town than on the highway. There’s also too much body roll on curves and when cornering.

While the 2017 Chevrolet Trax is an improvement over the 2015 and 2016 models, with its freshened exterior styling, better looking interior and additional new safety features, we’re highly disappointed with the drivetrain and suspension flaws that take the fun out of driving the vehicle. We much prefer similar sized and priced vehicles like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade or Nissan Rogue Sport.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $21,895 - $28,495
Price as Tested: $29,645
Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 138-hp
Fuel Economy: 24-MPG City – 30-MPG Highway
Crash Test Safety Ratings: IIHS Good, NHTSA Overall 5 Stars  - Rollover 4 Stars

Competes With

Honda HR-V
Jeep Renegade
Kia Niro
Mazda CX-3
Nissan Rogue Sport

What Stands Out

City driving maneuverability
Improved appearance inside and out

— Jim Prueter