Easy to drive, easy on the wallet, easy to park just about anywhere, and easy to adapt to any combination of passengers and gear.
Chevrolet launched the 2013 Trax in 2012 to bring the brand’s presence to the growing compact utility marketplace.
Trax was a small two-row crossover designed to do battle with the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi RVR, and others. Intended to offer the added flexibility, headroom, and AWD functionality of a crossover in a small, manoeuvrable, and city-friendly package, the Trax has been part of the compact crossover scene for over five years now.
Trax feature content included available navigation, OnStar, Chevrolet MyLink, a back-up camera, heated leather, a sunroof, Bluetooth, 10 standard airbags, built-in Wi-Fi, and a total of 1,371 litres of cargo space. Though Trax is a small vehicle, it offered up split-folding rear seats, a flat-fold front passenger seat, and up to eight possible seating configurations.
Consider one for a test drive if you’re after top levels of connectivity, manoeuvrability, fuel efficiency, and flexibility, all wrapped in a package that’s easy to enter, exit, manoeuvre, and drive.
Trax was offered in three trim grades, with LS, LT, and LTZ representing basic to loaded models, respectively.
Look for Trax powered by GM’s 1.4L turbo Ecotec four-cylinder engine, good for 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. With all-wheel drive (AWD), the only transmission option was a six-speed automatic, while front-drive models could be had with the driver’s choice of six-speed transmissions in automatic or manual.
What Owners Like
On all attributes relating to maneuverability, fuel efficiency, flexibility, and modern feature content, the Trax seems to have impressed. It’s said to be easy to drive, easy on the wallet, easy to park just about anywhere, and easy to adapt to any combination of passengers and gear. Many owners appreciate the high-tech feature content, including the MyLink app, which allows remote smartphone control of numerous vehicle functions, as well as the back-up camera and built-in Wi-Fi.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wish for a more comfortable ride, and more comfortable seats – depending on the model and trim grade. As such, shoppers should confirm comfort levels of the seats and ride, on a variety of road surfaces before they agree to buy. Also, confirm proper mirror positioning, and then check the Trax’s blind spots, noting that some owners report limited visibility.
Here are some owner reviews.
Watch the warranty! Chances are that the Chevrolet Trax you’re considering has some remaining factory warranty in effect, though shoppers are best to confirm that all past owners adhered to maintenance and servicing intervals, by checking service records against the service schedule in the back of the owner’s manual.
Note that skipping or stretching factory-prescribed maintenance, or using non-factory parts or components for repair, can compromise or nullify remaining warranty coverage. Translation? Make sure the Trax you’re considering has been consistently and properly cared for, to avoid nasty warranty-related surprises. Typically, a model sold as part of a dealer Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program, or a model that’s been regularly serviced and is familiar to your local dealer, is best.
Here’s Your Test Drive To-Do List
Start with the Basics
To help save money, assume the Trax you’re considering needs all tires replaced, a full brake job, a full tune-up, and a full fluid change as a bare minimum, until all components are inspected and confirmed as being in good condition. Assuming that the selling dealer, car lot, or private seller is trying to pass off an upcoming repair or replacement bill is a great way to stay on top of your budget.
Sluggish or Inconsistent Performance
Some owners have reported issues with bad turbochargers. Information is somewhat scarce and problems reported seem rare against total sales volume, though shoppers are advised to be on the lookout for a sudden loss of power, suddenly sluggish performance, or inconsistent power delivery, possibly accompanied by a Check Engine light. Some owners report that these problems, if detected, are more prevalent in cold weather. Here’s some more reading.
If problems are detected before or after you purchase, be sure to have the vehicle inspected by a Chevrolet dealer, and obtain documentation that proves a technician has looked into your complaint. This is especially important if the vehicle is nearing the end of its powertrain warranty, as proper documentation may help speed future warranty claims, if needed. Here’s some more reading.
Care for the Turbocharger
Proper care of the engine in any turbocharged vehicle is vital to the long and trouble-free life of the turbocharger, which should last the life of the vehicle if properly maintained. Thankfully, caring for a turbocharger is easy. First, change your oil using only factory-specified oil and filters not a moment later than requested by the vehicle’s on-board oil life management system, noting that stretching oil changes can increase turbocharger wear. Proper cooling system maintenance is also important for long turbocharger life. Finally, consider waiting a moment before turning off the ignition after a hard drive, a long drive in hilly terrain, or after any use on a very hot day, or while towing.
Other Engine Checks
Based on information from the owners community regarding other GM models powered by the same 1.4L turbo engine found in the Trax, a few additional checks are advised before you agree to buy. Apparently, moisture in the engine oil vapour can accumulate and freeze on the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve, causing it to burst, stick, split, or break.
Have a technician at a GM dealer inspect the PCV system for integrity, noting that problems with the PCV valve require the entire valve cover to be replaced, as the (inexpensive) PCV valve is integrated into the (much pricier) valve cover.
Failure to address a bad PCV valve can lead to leaks and poor performance, or even failure of other oil seals in the engine, which can lead to severe oil burning evidenced by white or grey smoke from the tailpipes. Here’s some more reading.
Best defense? Once again, report any issues with performance to your dealer for assessment right away, and be on the lookout for Check Engine lights. Your local dealer will have access to Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) that help technicians remedy and repair this issue, if present.
Random Check Engine / Warning Light Illumination
If, for no apparent reason, your Trax lights up one or more warning messages relating to the ABS, Traction Control, or a Check Engine Light (CEL), a few causes are most likely. Some owners report this behaviour as a result of a bad ignition coil pack, which would qualify for replacement under the powertrain warranty. More likely? The battery in the Trax you’re considering is dying or weak, and the low voltage is causing systems to act up. In response to strange electronic problems like this, be sure to have a dealer investigate, checking both the battery and charging system, and all coil packs. If you drive infrequently, and typically on shorter trips, a weak battery is the most likely cause. Do not unplug the battery to try and effect some “reset” within the vehicle’s computer to try and fix the issue.
Confirm Satisfactory A/C Performance
Based on information here, shoppers are advised to confirm proper operation of the air conditioner system in their potential used Trax, ideally in the hottest possible conditions. Some owners have reported problems that result in the A/C randomly turning off, thereby pumping hot air, not cold air, into the cabin. If you detect any issues, ask a dealer to check out Techincal Service Bulletin (TSB) #16-NA-034, which addresses the problem by evacuating and recharging the freon in the system, as well as adjusting the level. Apparently, some Trax A/C systems may have been overfilled with refrigerant at the factory or filled with contaminated refrigerant. In any case, many owners have had success in remedying AC problems with a refill and adjustment of refrigerant levels.
Check All Electronics
Check all controls and buttons throughout the Trax, manipulating every function that runs on electricity and confirming proper functionality. Now’s the time to make sure you can pair a Bluetooth phone, set a navigation destination, connect with OnStar, play music from a USB drive, adjust the power seats, and set the cruise control from the steering-wheel-mounted controls. If there’s a bad switch, module, or computer causing issues with some vehicle systems, you’ll want to know about it before you buy.
Other Useful Checks
Body Panel Alignment
Spend a few minutes confirming that all of Trax’s body panels are properly aligned, following the gaps between body panels and bumpers to ensure they’re even and consistent. If that’s not the case, the vehicle may have been poorly repaired after an accident, though some owners report poor body panel alignment from the factory, which can result in unwanted noises and rattles as the vehicle ages.
Computer Diagnostic Scan
Though most of Trax’s more serious problems aren’t reported with enough frequency to cause huge concern, shoppers should obtain a computer diagnostic scan at a dealer before they agree to buy. For a few bucks and a few minutes of time, a technician can read any stored or pending trouble codes logged away in the Trax’s computer system, which may reveal possible issues that you, or the seller, may not be aware of. Note that some of these trouble codes, which reference problems with a variety of vehicle systems and components, may cause a Check Engine Light to illuminate, and that others may not.
Here’s a list of recalls to check against.
Though Trax is well loved for feature content, manoeuvrability, and just-right sizing, shoppers are advised to consider a full, professional inspection carried out by a dealer technician to be absolutely mandatory before their purchase for maximum peace of mind.
Crash Test Ratings
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2015 only)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars