Expert Reviews

2024 Chevrolet Trax First Drive Review

QUEBEC CITY – These days, the smallest SUVs are making some of the biggest news. It’s one of the fastest-growing segments, primarily pulling people out of sedans for their ease of entry and exit, as well as extra cargo space. To answer the call, there’s now an all-new 2024 Chevrolet Trax.

It’s longer, lower, and wider than the old one, but from its styling to its performance, it’s so much better that it really deserved a new name to further differentiate it. This has gone from “one more entry” in the segment to an extremely serious contender among its rivals.

The new Trax shares its platform with the upcoming 2024 Buick Envista. The Chevy’s front end is updated with a better-looking grille flanked by LED headlights, while the rear is sleeker and the sides are sculpted. The previous cabin design, a T-shaped dash and centre stack that drooped like it had been left too long in the sun, is replaced with a modern angular design that handsomely integrates the centre touchscreen and new digital instrument cluster on the upper trims.

Under the hood, a turbocharged 1.2L three-cylinder engine makes 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It replaces the previous model’s 1.4L four-cylinder. That one was more powerful at 155 horsepower, but the new engine is rated at 7.9 L/100 km in combined driving, versus the old engine’s 8.6 L/100 km.

As before, the engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Many rivals use a gearless, automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). They’re fuel efficient, but with a small engine, they can be noisy, while the Trax’s transmission works unobtrusively and very well. Despite the power drop, the new engine is surprisingly zippy, especially in city traffic. That said, it got noisy and had to work hard getting up some steep hills on the rural highways. Your satisfaction with it will depend on where you plan to drive it. Beyond that, the steering is well-weighted and precise, and this little sport-ute is responsive, takes curves well, and feels well-balanced. The old Trax was an appliance to get you from A to B, but with this new one, you’ll enjoy the journey.

Front-wheel drive is the sole choice here, in line with competitors such as the Hyundai Venue and Nissan Kicks. Others in this compact segment offer all-wheel drive (AWD), but rather than equip the Trax with it, Chevrolet puts it in the next-step-up Trailblazer compact sport-ute, which can overlap the Trax in pricing in its lower trims.

With the discontinuation of the Spark hatchback, the Korean-built Trax is now Chevy’s entry-level model. With all prices including delivery and fees, it starts at the LS for $24,498; the 1RS at $25,998; and the LT at $28,698. From there, it branches out into the two top trims I drove, the Activ and 2RS (somewhat confusingly labelled simply RS on the liftgate), both at $30,798.

Features on the base LS include heated front seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, LED headlights, cruise control, and eight-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 1RS adds a heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, and remote starter, while the LT adds an 11-inch infotainment touchscreen, eight-inch digital instrument cluster, push-button start, adaptive cruise control, automatic climate control, blind-spot monitoring, and cargo cover. All trims also include emergency front braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlamps, plus the reverse camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles.

The similarly-priced top trims branch off with the Activ as the premium model, and the 2RS as the sporty-styled one. The Activ gets a power driver’s seat and 18-inch wheels, while the 2RS has a manual seat but with 19-inch rims and flat-bottom steering wheel. Both can be optioned with a power sunroof and wireless phone charger package for $1,095.

Once you’re inside, the Trax feels larger than it is. The cabin is roomy, including for rear-seat passengers, and the large, swept-back windshield adds to that feeling of spaciousness and good front visibility. Cargo volume is a generous 725 L with the rear seats up and 1,532 L when folded. Other than the engine noise when hill-climbing, the cabin is unexpectedly quiet thanks to active noise cancellation on all trims, making it seem more premium-level than entry.

The climate functions are dials and buttons, and the higher trims’ 11-inch touchscreen, nicely integrated into the dash rather than set on top tablet-style, has intuitive menus and a volume dial. There is a lot of hard plastic, as you’d expect, but it’s nicely textured, and the Activ includes yellow interior accents while the 2RS has red. Their faux-leather seats continue those colours into the stitching, and the trim name is embroidered into the head restraints. It all looks top-notch, although with a couple of reminders that you are still at the lower end of the vehicle food chain. The climate dials feel lightweight, clicky and cheap, and the seats are firm and got progressively less comfortable during my day’s drive.

It can be tough to accept that the $25,000 mark is now an entry point in the auto market. The Trax’s starting point of $24,498 is more than that of the 2023 versions of the Hyundai Venue at $23,306 or the Nissan Kicks at $24,028, all with fees included. At the upper end, the two top Trax trims at $30,798 also top the highest Venue and Kicks trims.

But while it’s pricier than those, the Trax’s performance, roominess, and premium features and styling feel value-packed for what you pay. Chevy really got this one right. The old one was ho-hum, but in this mini-sport-ute segment, the new Trax really shines.