On the right track
There are times when all a vehicle needs to succeed is a little more attention paid to what customers are saying and a bit of action taken in the right direction. This new Chevrolet Trax is perhaps the best example of that, as General Motors (Chevy's parent) listened to what the market is clamoring for and acted accordingly.
The 2017 model isn't what we would call all-new; in fact, it's what we can consider to be a facelift. But as far as facelifts go, this one is quite extensive especially with that thoroughly revised front end and LED DRLs on the headlamps. The new design gives the crossover more character, and levels up the initial impression significantly, especially since the Trax looked a bit dated when they launched it in late 2015.
Like the outside, the cabin of the 2015-2016 Trax also felt lagging and dated, but not anymore. Chevrolet gave the 2017 model a very new and fresh interior, beginning with a brand-new dashboard design, which we like. The seats too, are exceptionally plush, and there's plenty of lateral space to go around. The interior definitely feels far more premium than before, making it clear that the Trax is being geared to be more aspirational rather than economical. Even the gauges are new. I particularly liked the fold-flat rear seats; it's not one-touch like some other models, but it does offer a fully flat load space that's useful on a big shopping spree or weekend getaway.
This being the LT means it has all the bells and whistles, and then some. Automatic climate control, cruise control, traction control, and many other kinds of control are standard, boosting either safety, convenience, or comfort. At the center of the dashboard is a new Chevrolet MyLink 2-DIN multimedia system; I like it because it has Apple CarPlay as standard, meaning full integration with my iPhone and Spotify playlists.
At the heart of the Trax is the same 1.4-liter motor as before. They didn't really need to change it because it's turbocharged, meaning the little engine has a very healthy 140 bhp for power. More important, however, is the 148 lb ft of peak torque that begins at 1850 rpm up to 4900 rpm; that flat torque curve means the Trax can be easily driven efficiently. Also standard for all variants of the Trax is a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. That, combined with the 157mm of ground clearance means the Trax isn't meant for off-roading, but can clear most urban debris and relatively high speed bumps.
As an urban drive, the Trax doesn't disappoint. The manners of this crossover lends it a good ride over our low grade roads, though with just myself in the Trax (and its 18-inch wheels) it can get a bit bumpy, but not overly so. Visibility is good even though I prefer to lower the seat all the way, much like you would in a car, not a crossover. Fuel economy is quite good; 9.5 km/l in the city in moderate traffic (22 km/h average) One thing that could be improved is the turning radius of 5.6 meters; it could be tighter in order to make urban U-turns easier.
On an open road, the Trax can be quite fun. Cruising on the highway (with cruise control) is easy and comfortable. I quite liked the fold-down armrest for the driver, though the front passenger could use one as well. The power from the diminutive engine is impressive and fun to play with; it also makes overtaking a breeze. The six-speed auto is efficient on a speedy cruise; at an average 92 km/h, it was returning 14.8 km/l.
The Trax, overall, is a nifty little package from Chevrolet. The changes they made were meaningful, and very important. But at PhP 1,358,888 (the 8's being a Chevrolet Philippines tradition), they do come at a cost. Yes, the Trax is aiming high, but it could be a tough ask given how many new players are entering the small crossover class and at more affordable prices.
Engine: Inline-4, 1364cc, dohc, 16V, turbocharged, 6-speed AT
Max Power: 140 bhp @ 4900-6600 rpm
Max torque: 148 lb ft @ 1850-4900 rpm
0-100 km/h: 10.0 sec.
Top Speed: 200 km/h
Fuel Mileage: 9.5 km/l City / 14.8 km/l Highway
+: Good looks, fuel efficiency, versatility
-: Pricey versus primary competitors
Price as tested: PhP 1,358,888