Propping up the small end of the Chevrolet lineup is the 2021 Trax, which offers SUV basics and not much else. The driver’s seat is situated at an appropriately high position, and the rest of the Trax’s cabin is reasonably spacious and comfortable for a small SUV, but it lacks standard features and amenities that make its rivals more appealing. Still, it offers touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, so it’s not entirely analog. The only engine offered is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with lackluster performance that can be paired with either front- or all-wheel drive. The Trax shares its platform with the similarly priced Buick Encore and has to compete with the slightly larger and more modern Chevy Trailblazer in its own showroom.
What’s New for 2021?
The Trax loses its top-spec Premier trim for 2021, leaving the LS and LT models as the last remaining offerings. The previously available Sun and Sound package, the optional power sunroof, available Bose stereo system, and two-tone Jet Black and Brandy interior theme have also been deleted. Never fear, Chevy still provides several options and packages to deck out your Trax, such as the Premium Seat package, which adds faux-leather upholstery with heated front seats, and the Convenience package, which includes keyless passive entry, push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Unless you’re really budget focused, we’d recommend splurging on the LT as it adds several must-have features that honestly should be standard. Those niceties include staples such as cruise control, rear-window tint, heated exterior mirrors, and remote start. For an additional $450, treat yourself to the aforementioned Convenience package.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Only one engine is offered in the Trax, and it’s not a great one. The turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder makes 138 horsepower—a low number for this segment—and it’s buzzy and unrefined. Around town, the engine’s turbocharger provides a decent amount of low-end punch. However, as soon as you need to pass or merge on the highway, the engine runs out of steam, providing more noise than actual acceleration when you step on it. The six-speed automatic is smooth enough, but often executes sluggish shifts and is sometimes reluctant to downshift. A front-wheel-drive Trax required a languid 9.3 seconds to reach 60 mph in our acceleration testing. A firm ride and steady handling give the Trax a feeling of solidity, and quick steering makes it agile in parking lots and urban areas. There’s less leaning in corners than you’d expect given the Trax’s tall stature, although the handling isn’t as responsive and eager as in competitors such as the Mazda CX-30 and the Kia Soul. The Trax’s brakes are among the strongest in its class, and the pedal feels firm and confidence-inspiring.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
There’s not much variation among the Trax’s competitive set in terms of fuel economy, both by the EPA’s standards and in our real-world testing. The Trax’s drivetrain provides a subpar combination of fuel efficiency and acceleration that is worse than its rivals. The front-wheel-drive Trax underperformed in our highway fuel-economy test, falling short of its EPA number with a 29-mpg result. The Soul not only achieved better fuel economy but also provided a whopping 63-hp advantage over the Trax and accelerated to 60 mph nearly three seconds quicker.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
A high seating position and expansive headroom make the Trax’s cabin feel airy and spacious, but it actually has less rear-seat room and cargo space than several of its competitors. The Trax comes standard with a well-integrated, easy-to-use touchscreen mounted at the top of the dashboard. There are also some stitched dashboard inserts that help cultivate a more upscale look. Venture further down the center stack, though, and you’ll find cheap-feeling climate controls and cut-rate plastics around the shifter and center console. Rivals including the Honda HR-V, the Jeep Renegade, and the CX-30 all offer more features and options. The Trax’s cargo area is on the small side for its segment, and rear seats aren’t as easy to fold as they are in several competitors. Still, we managed to fit 18 carry-on suitcases with the rear seats stowed. The cavernous HR-V, which held four more carry-ons with the seats folded, is the pick of the subcompact-crossover litter for those who frequently carry large items.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment that’s standard on all Trax models looks basic, but it functions well. It responds quickly to inputs and includes the latest smartphone-integration capabilities. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions are standard on all Trax models, which is good because navigation isn’t an option. In-car Wi-Fi is standard, although it does require a monthly subscription fee after the free trial period expires.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Although it earned five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and held up decently in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests, the absence of some important driver-assistance features means the Trax lags behind newer rivals. Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning
- Available blind-spot monitoring
- Available rear parking sensors
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Trax’s warranty coverage is entirely average, but Chevrolet offers the first scheduled maintenance visit as complimentary—a nice perk that you won’t commonly find among its competitors.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit
More Features and Specs