What’s it like to drive?
The Trax sports the same 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 used by the Cruze sedan. With only 138 hp at 4,900 rpm and 148 lb.-ft of torque at 1,850 rpm, you won’t set any land-speed records, but this engine will happily haul you wherever you want to go -- at least in front-wheel-drive models. The all-wheel-drive Trax might make more sense in harsher climates, but the added weight and drag of the drivetrain makes for noticeably slower crawls to 60 mph.
In Premier trim, the 18-inch wheels multiply the effects of the short wheelbase and make for a bumpy ride. In lower trims, 16-inch standard wheels show more tire sidewall and help ride quality considerably. Regardless of wheel choice, road noise isn’t excessive for the class, and the 2017 Trax’s cabin seems quieter overall than the older models. The only noise that bleeds into the passenger compartment at 70 mph is engine noise, which is noticeable but not excessive.
The short wheelbase and quick electric power steering make the Trax an ideal crossover for city slickers, and urban areas are where the Trax feels at home. While it might not be as nimble as a Smart ForTwo, it can get into tight parking spots and easily navigate narrow lanes. Outward visibility is good, the roof pillars aren’t excessively large and don’t block sight lines, and the upright seating position gives a good vantage point for scouting out problems on the roadway.
Steering wheel features
The multi-function steering wheel and voice commands help keep driver distraction down. Volume controls for the radio and cruise control controls are intuitive and well laid out. The LCD display inset into the gauge cluster takes a minute to get used to, as its controls are on the turn signal stalk.
In Premier trim, the Trax gets lane-departure and collision warnings. The collision warning fires off a red LED on the dash if you're closing too quickly on the car in front; lane-departure warning simply beeps when you weave out of a lane and illuminates an icon in the gauge cluster.
Do I want it?
With more storage space than the Mazda CX-3 and less polarizing looks than the Nissan Juke, the Trax occupies a conservative, utilitarian spot in the compact crossover market. The interior is still a compromise with its lack of soft-touch materials and attention to detail, which could be alleviated by moving up to the Buick Encore -- at a price.
If you’re looking for a spacious city ripper and don’t care about touching rubbery plastic, you should give the Trax a look. Chevy has yet to release pricing, but we bet it’ll start around $21,000 -- again, the same neighborhood as the Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Juke. Just don't expect the Trax to deliver the most fun per dollar.
Wesley Wren is an associate editor at Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.