Words & Photos: Isabel N. Delos Reyes
What a difference a facelift makes!
I have been testing and photographing cars exclusively for C! Magazine for almost a decade now, when I can accommodate the duties. As a mother and chef with my own small business, I have my own perspective on what I look for in a car. I appreciate tall, nimble, and versatile wagons in particular precisely because it ticks most of the boxes of my daily requirements. The new breed of crossovers really caters to consumers like myself who need a practical and efficient mobility solution. The pre-facelifted Chevrolet Trax was not one of my favorite little crossovers. On paper, the outgoing Trax sounded compelling with its very long list of standard equipment, but in person, it fell very short of my expectations. It drove reasonably well on Philippine roads in the city and the space planning was actually favorable, but I had a difficult time accepting the old, unrefined interior. In fact, I’m sorry, I really did not like how it looked either. It reminded me of a toad.
So, when I took delivery of the revised 2017 Chevrolet Trax in the US in top-range Premier trim (replaces the LTZ model), which was about the same time as the local launch, I was very surprised. Now, I actually like it! The new Trax, even if it’s mechanically and dynamically the same as before with a lot of carried over sheet-metal, looks quite good on the outside and even better where it counts more inside. Our test Nightfall Gray Metallic painted unit had the tasteful two-tone interior trim that Chevrolet describes as Jet Black on Brandy but looks more like caramel leatherette. The new interior is incomparable to the old one from design to materials used.
The key changes are the new appealing face with the proportioned dual port grill, new projector headlights (look good but use only halogen bulbs, which is disappointing even if it does throw light a bit better than before), new bumpers on both ends, new 18-inch alloys wrapped with P215/55R18 Continental Pro Contact tires, new sculpted taillamps with LED signature lighting (Chevy should have matched it with LED headlights not just for the DRL), new instrument cluster is thankfully analog backed up by an informative digital driver information center, a rocking Bose® audio system, new dashboard with chrome accents, smart key with ignition, and a new, sharp MyLink 7-inch center infotainment system.
Our test unit was a front-wheel drive only, which I prefer as I wouldn’t need the AWD system that weighs down the carried over 1.4-liter turbo engine with roughly an additional 145 pounds. As good as the new Trax is with its user-friendly upgrades, the little engine is just barely sufficient. The trunk is still a bit small for my needs, it has a 19-cubic foot capacity which is 5 less than my current 2nd generation Kia Soul’s, and the rear seats do not fold flat.
Is the new Trax a good small crossover? It sure is, but I cannot say it is great. The competition is very fierce in this segment, so I hope the domestic model that will be sold soon will have the same or similar price point as before combined with all the new equipment, because ability is still paramount over just looks and some better feel. It is certainly maneuverable and very easy to live with, but I would place it third in my ranking of “best in class”, with the Mazda CX-3 still confidently holding the crown.
Specification – 2017 Chevrolet Trax Premier
Engine: Inline-4, 1364 cc, dohc 16V, Port Injection Intercooled Turbo, VVT, 6-speed AT
Max power: 138 bhp @ 4900-6000 rpm
Max torque: 148 lb-ft @ 1850-4900 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 9.6 sec.
Top Speed: 189 km/h (118 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 25 mpg City & 33 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 27,290.00
C! RATING 9.0/10
+Better-looking, more comfortable and more appointed, good value
-Halogen headlights, better if it had the 153 bhp/177 lb ft version of the same engine used in the Buick Encore.