After just two years on the market, Chevrolet has made numerous updates to the Trax subcompact sport utility for 2017, giving it a new front end and grill, new halogen headlights, sculpted taillights (with LEDs on uplevel models), and a reworked rear fascia.
There are changes inside, too, including a premium interior with a new instrument cluster with analog speedometer and tachometer readouts, and a new driver-information center.
For 2017, the Trax comes in three trim levels, LS, LT and Premier. The Premier model replaces the LTZ at the top of the line.
The base front-wheel-drive LS starts at $21,895 (plus $895 freight); the LT is $23,795, and the front-drive Premier starts at $26,995.
All-wheel drive is available for an additional $1,500 on all three trim levels.
Essentially a Chevrolet version of the Buick Encore, but with fewer standard amenities, the Trax can hold up to five people and a whole lot of cargo. It’s among the new crop of subcompact crossovers that are growing in popularity even with the currently low gasoline prices.
The Trax combines fuel efficiency with styling and utility, then adds a measure of driving fun with a peppy 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine.
EPA ratings are among its best attributes: 25 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined for front-drive models, and 24/30/27 for all-wheel drive.
Other changes for 2017 include a dual cockpit design with chrome accents, keyless entry and available pushbutton start, and a new Chevrolet MyLink seven-inch color touch-screen audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The new headlights are halogen reflectors on the LS model, and halogen projector beams on the LT and Premier. There is a new 18-inch aluminum wheel design that comes on the Premier version.
New safety features include a Driver Confidence Package that brings Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist; and a Driver Confidence II Package, which tacks on Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.
The new Driver Information Center has a 3.5-inch monochrome display to the right of the speedometer. It includes digital readouts and Ice Blue back lighting
Buick’s Encore, which arrived for 2014, is a bit more upscale than the Trax, and costs slightly more, as well. Its 2017 prices range from $22,990-$31,390 for front-wheel drive models, but a lot of the specs are the same, including the engine, transmission, and fuel economy.
The Trax is 167.2 inches long, with a wheelbase of 100.6 inches. That makes it slightly larger than the Chevy Sonic subcompact hatch, which is 159 inches long, with a 99.4-inch wheelbase.
Trax is somewhat heavier than the Sonic, as well. Base curb weight of the Sonic hatchback is 2,690 pounds, while the front-wheel-drive version of the Trax weighs about 2,800 pounds, and the all-wheel-drive model 3,200 pounds.
But the Sonic has a slight edge on cargo space. With the Trax, there is 18.7 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, compared with 19 cubic feet for the Sonic. Both have more cargo capacity than most midsize sedans. And with the rear seat folded, the Trax can accommodate 48.4 cubic feet of cargo. The front passenger seatback also can be folded to accommodate long items such as surfboards.
Under the hood of the Trax and Encore is the same turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, rated at 138 horsepower and 148 foot-pounds of torque. It's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
This engine gave my Trax plenty of power to cruise along the interstate highways with the traffic flowing at 80-plus mph. In normal everyday driving situations, there was never any indication that this car was underpowered.
Chevy says top speed of the 2017 Trax is 116 mph, and that it can go from zero to 60 mph in just over nine seconds (just over 10 seconds with all-wheel drive).
The Trax’s EPA ratings are quite an improvement over those most of midsize crossovers, such as the Toyota Highlander, with 20 mpg city/25 highway.
But you’re not giving up much more than some of the interior space with the shift to the smaller Trax. This is not a stripped-down econo-box; standard features even on the cheapest version include a rearview camera, electric power steering, and remote start.
There are 10 standard air bags (including knee and front-and-rear seat-mounted and roof-mounted side air bags); electronic stability control; and four-wheel antilock brakes.
The mid-level LT model we drove included the OnStar 4G LTE system, which has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot as well as MyLink technology and a seven-inch color touch screen. Trax also includes Siri Eyes Free.
Plenty of interior storage areas are provided, including upper and lower gloveboxes (with a USB port and auxiliary audio jack in the upper glove box), and there is another storage cubby with a pop-up lid in the top center of the dash.
There is no center console storage box, but there are four cupholders in a row between the front seats, front to rear, with the two rearmost ones accessible to rear-seat passengers. In front of the gearshift is a gadget tray with a 12-volt power outlet.
The signature Chevy dual-port grille, prominent bowtie emblem and swept headlights instantly show the Trax to be a contemporary Chevrolet product. The grille design, which includes chrome accents, was intended to emulate other Chevrolets and give the brand a more-cohesive appearance.
There are four passenger doors and a one-piece tailgate, with vertical taillights flanking each side of the rear hatch. They include LEDs on LT and Premier models for 2017.
Our LT model came with 16-inch aluminum wheels, deep-tinted glass for the rear windows and tailgate, halogen projector-beam headlights, and heated/power outside mirrors (with manual fold-in).
Inside, there is manual climate control, power windows and door locks with remote, pushbutton start, a cargo security cover that automatically raises and lowers with the tailgate, rear defroster, cruise control, air filtration, 110-volt AC power outlet, tilt/telescopic steering column, and the new driver-information center with features such as a miles-to-empty readout.
LS versions come with standard cloth seating; LT models get either deluxe cloth or optional cloth/leatherette seats; and Premier models have standard leatherette (plastic).
The LT Convenience Package brings Keyless Open and Start, driver six-way power seat adjuster, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and the deluxe cloth/leatherette seat trim. These items are standard on Premier models.
Also standard on the Premier and optional on the LT is a Bose premium seven-speaker audio system with amplifier and subwoofer. Satellite radio is included on all trims.
There are new chrome-trimmed air vents on each side of the dash replacing the turret-style vents from the 2016 Trax.
There are four new exterior colors for 2017: Red Hot, Nightfall Gray Metallic, Orange Burst Metallic and Blue Topaz Metallic. Carried over colors are Crimson Metallic, Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White and Mosaic Black Metallic. The Red Hot, Nightfall Gray and Orange Burst colors are not available on base LS models, and the Orange Burst will cost a bit extra.
For 2017, interior color choices are Jet Black, Jet Black/Light Ash Gray and Jet Black/Brandy.
The rear seat has room for three people, and features a fold-down center armrest with cupholders, along with storage pockets in the doors and front seatbacks.
Up front, there are two bucket seats, storage pockets in the doors, and four storage bins in the dash. There also are bins under the rear floor and a hidden storage drawer under the front passenger seat.
While front drive is standard, the optional all-wheel drive will automatically shift part of the power to the rear wheels when necessary to maintain traction.
Standard on LS and LT versions are 16-inch wheels (aluminum on the LT), while the Premier comes with the 18-inch aluminum wheels.
LED daytime running lights are new on LT and Premier models. Premier versions also get fog lights.
Traction control is standard, along with electronic brake-force distribution, cornering brake control and brake assist.
There is a 14-gallon fuel tank, and regular unleaded gasoline is recommended.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2017 Chevrolet Trax
The package: Compact, five-door, five-passenger, front- or all-wheel-drive, turbocharged four-cylinder crossover utility vehicle.
Advantages: All new for 2015 and updated for 2017, this is a sporty, fuel-efficient, peppy, comparatively roomy and fun-to-drive small crossover that fills a gap in the Chevrolet lineup between the smaller Sonic and larger Equinox.
Negatives: Cargo area could use more space; back seat can be tight for three people.
Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 138 HP./148 foot-pounds
Length: 167.2 inches.
Base curb weight: 2,805-3,208 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/drum, antilock.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain for all rows.
Electronic stability control: Standard, with traction control.
Cargo volume: 18.7 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 48.4 cubic feet (rear seatback folded).
Fuel capacity/type: 14.0 gallons/unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined (front-wheel drive); 24/30/27 (all-wheel drive).
Major competitors: Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul, Mazda CX-3.
Base price range: $21,895-$26,995 plus $895 freight (front-wheel drive; add $1,500 for all-wheel drive).
On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.