The previous Chevrolet Trax was an innocuous wart, one with presence for all the wrong reasons.
It certainly proved problematic for those with Y-Chromosomes, which makes the 2024 Chevrolet Trax a far more promising proposition as a non-emasculating vehicle, one that no longer sports a depressingly cheap interior in a class known for downmarket cabins.
It’s far better than the vehicle it replaces thanks to an additional 11 inches in length and 2 inches in width. It’s truly transformative.
Offered in ascending LS, 1RS, LT, 2RS, Activ trim levels, the Chevrolet Trax now resides as the bottom-feeder of Chevrolet’s American line-up with a starting price of $21,495. If that doesn’t seem so inexpensive, well, it isn’t. However, it may be a matter of perspective as GM seems to prefer its Chinese customers to its American ones — the automaker offers the compact Chevrolet Monza sedan at a starting price of ¥94,900, or $13,365.
But, again, not in the United States, where entry-level transport means a vehicle that resembles an SUV, even if it has little, if any, of its off-road capability. But that’s OK, it’s the looks that count. And it looks quite good for a vehicle that resides at the bottom of the ladder, as if it wants to be a Blazer when it grows up.
While its dynamic look seems slightly more youthful and energetic than the Chevrolet Trailblazer introduced last year, it’s half an inch lower that its older sibling. Otherwise, they share the same wheelbase and length for a few hundred dollars more.
But the Trax looks better to these eyes.
Sure, it looks more like a tall wagon than a true SUV thanks to its lower ride height, but it endows it with a sportier vibe. Still one gets the sense that Chevy tried to make it look smaller than the Trailblazer, but somehow it just doesn’t. They’re more like peas in a pod that are likely to be confused among the great unwashed.
But the more you look at it, the better the Trax appears. Its EPA passenger volume ratings is identical to the Trailblazer’s, as is its cargo volume — with the second-row seats up. Fold them, and the Trailblazer has an additional 4 cubic feet or so due to its taller roof.
The driving position deems nearly carlike, something not true of the Trailblazer, which should please those who prefer cars to wagons disguised as trucks. The seats are comfortable for short hops, but prove flat and spongy as the miles pass.
The seatbacks have side bolstering, but it’s minimal, meaning even those broader of beam will find comfort. Regardless, the 2024 Chevrolet Trax provides a surprising amount of space for the price. Legroom is good up front, and surprisingly good in the back seat. The cargo bay is also capacious considering its cost.
Material quality is about what you’d expect from an entry-level car, although our vehicle had a number of small design details on the instrument panel that livened up what would otherwise be a dismal interior, such as the bright detailing that matched the Trax’s fetchingly dayglo exterior color. In an era where every SUV is black, silver, beige or white, the availability of true color is a refreshing, welcome, and long-overdue change. More, please.
Up front, you’ll find a Lilliputian powerplant, a 1.2-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that puts out 137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is not offered. Thankfully, neither is a continuously variable transmission or CVT, a problem that afflicts the Trailblazer on its base driveline, which is identical to the Trax. Upper level versions of the Trailblazer get an added 18 horses and more sophisticated 9-speed automatic — if you order all-wheel drive. But front-wheel drive has 80% of the traction of all-wheel drive, so unless you live in the frozen tundra, this may not matter.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash tested the 2024 Chevrolet Trax.
Standard driver assistance technology includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane-Keep Assist with Lane-Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, automatic high-beams, Following Distance Indicator and a Rear Vision Camera. Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist are optional.
But oddly, engineers placed the car’s trip computer in the infotainment screen, instead of the instrument cluster. And the infotainment screen display can’t be split among different functions; it only displays one item at a time. So, if you’re tuning in a radio station you can’t see the trip computer. With all of the brainpower at General Motors, who thought this was a good idea? At least it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although who knows for how long, as another whiz bang at GM has decided to drop both services.
Considering how little power is under the hood, Chevrolet engineers have made the most of what’s available. There is turbo lag, but by and large there’s enough gumption down low to keep this little trucklet in the thick of things. Yet it’s a relaxed cruiser, never feeling frenetic. Shifts come as expected, and the 6-speed slushbox proves to be a capable dance partner. Steering is light, but accurate.
Pedal feel is soggy in its responsiveness, which is typical of economy cars. And while road and tire noise are moderate around town, there is an awful lot of it at highway speed. Even worse, the whole vehicle vibrates at idle due to the little buzz bomb under the hood. Fuel economy is decent at 28 mpg.
And while the Trax is more refined than before, it’s not top of the class. It detracts from what otherwise is a fairly refined driving experience with good bump absorption and modest body lean in corners. But it plays the part of the archetypal economy car, a role it fills admirably. Power is sufficient, handling is pleasing, if not always engaging and space seems abundant for the price.
2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ Specifications
|L: 173.5 inches/W: 71.2 inches/H: 65.2 inches/Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
|1.2-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive
|28 mpg city/32 mpg highway/30 mpg combined
|137 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $23,900; As tested: $26,935 including $1,095 destination charge
While the 2024 Chevrolet Trax is huge improvement from its predecessor, and competitive with the many vehicles in this segment, and in some ways better than the Trailblazer. Its style is more eye-catching, its interior space equal and its feature content just as rich. The Trailblazer’s only advantage is its all-wheel-drive powertrain, something that most motorists could live without.
Why Chevrolet offers both is mystifying. But it seems that Trax could easily rob the Trailblazer of customers. After all, why pay more? The extra ponies in the Trailblazer aren’t enough to warrant the extra cost of all-wheel drive, particularly given its typically higher running costs.
It looks like the Trailblazer just met its more popular, and better-looking, younger sibling.
2024 Chevrolet Trax — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 2024 Chevrolet Trax out yet?
Yes. They went on sale this Spring.
Where will the 2024 Chevrolet Trax be built?
At GM’s plant in Changwon, South Korea.
Is the 2024 Chevrolet Trax bigger?
Yes, significantly thanks to a 6-inch-longer wheelbase and 11-inch-longer overall length.