Chevrolet Trax

Great value, little bundle

•Chevrolet's first entry into the small SUV segment

•SUV toughness and capability in a small package

•On-demand all-wheel-drive system enhances traction

•Well-organized, flexible passenger cabin

•Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system provides enhanced connectivity

Pros

Spacious

Efficient engine

Exceptional look

Cons

Noisy engine on highways

Rivals: Nissan Juke, Suzuki SX4, Renault Captur, Ford Ecosport

I got the opportunity to lay down my hands on the Chevrolet Trax, a new crossover from Chevrolet, which is designed to compete in the small SUV markets. It is fair to say that Chevrolet knows a little about SUVs, having invented the segment over 79 years ago with the introduction of the Suburban Carryall in 1935. Decades later, Chevrolet is launching its first entry in the small SUV segment - the Trax. A modern, highly versatile yet fuel-efficient small SUV, Chevrolet's all new 2014 Trax is the right-sized crossover designed for urban adventure seekers.

With Trax, Chevrolet is ready to embrace the group of car buyers that has been fuelling the significant growth the SUV-B segment has seen in recent years. These urban drivers tend to be image-conscious individuals with active lifestyles. Many of them desire a vehicle that matches their off-the-grid individual status.

Exterior
Conveying muscularity, athletic agility and movement, Trax embodies the latest example of Chevrolet's expressive design vocabulary. At 4.2 meters long, 1.7 meters wide and 1.6 meters high, the brand's new entry in the SUV-B segment projects a well-planted, confident stance.

A dual port grille with the iconic Chevrolet bowtie, pronounced wheel arches and muscular rear haunches and a fast, rearward-swept roofline that flows into the integrated spoiler are key elements that define Trax exterior appearance.

Interior
The interior is characterized by flowing lines, modern design cues and a well-organized cabin. Storage amenities are plentiful. The loading space can be extended to accommodate a maximum of 1370 liters, with further space available under the cargo floor. In addition to a 60/40 split rear seat, upper specifications of the Trax have a front passenger seat that can be folded flat, offering additional flexibility for objects of up to 2.3 meters in length.

A host of storage compartments includes an available under-seat storage tray and two glove boxes, one of which contains outlets for USB and auxiliary devices that enable discrete connectivity for iPods, smart phones and other electronic devices.

Additional cargo can be carried externally. The Chevrolet Trax features standard roof rails, has a roof load capacity of 75 kg and can haul trailers weighing up to 1200 kg.

Drivetrain
A 1.8 liter gasoline engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, cranks out 140 horsepower and 175 Nm of torque, while delivering low fuel consumption of 7.6 L/100km (FWD). With a power output 77.7 hp/L, the new 1.8 liter engine is one of the most powerful units in this displacement class. Ninety percent of the175 Nm maximum torque is available over a wide range from 2200 to 6200 rpm, which ensures lively performance even at low engine speeds for relaxed everyday driving.

An AWD system is available for both LT and LTZ trims equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission. On-demand AWD system automatically adapts to the prevalent road conditions and significantly improves traction on slippery or graveled roads. It delivers power to the front wheels during normal driving on dry road surfaces. Should the front wheels slip due to adverse traction - caused by rain, snow or a muddy driveway - power is automatically delivered to the rear wheels as well.

The system works automatically and seamlessly with no action needed from the driver. While engineered primarily for on-road use, the system also provides excellent traction and mobility off-road. Unlike heavy-duty four-wheel-drive systems, this is a single-range design not intended for strenuous use.

Driving the Trax is an enjoyable experience. Chevrolet's latest entry has been tuned to deliver distinct European driving dynamics and boasts sophisticated electronic aid systems.

A front/rear track width of 1540 mm and a wheelbase of 2555 mm ensure well-planted stability. The Trax' tight body-frame-integral structure, a McPherson strut-type front suspension and a rear compound crank suspension all contribute to the vehicle's responsive ride and handling characteristics.

The Trax features Electric Power Steering (EPS) with integrated wear compensator for precise steering action over the life of the system.

Features
The strength of its structural design makes Trax one of the safest small SUVs in the segment. Should the car roll over, it has been engineered to carry more than four times its own weight.

Trax is equipped with a comprehensive range of modern chassis control systems which includes Hill Start Assist. Other standard features include Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, four-channel Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Roll-over Mitigation. Six airbags, three-point seatbelts in all five seating positions, ISOFX anchoring systems for children's safety seats and a collapsible pedal are equally part of standard safety features onboard the Trax. Chevrolet Trax was awarded the top safety rating by the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) in Korea and Europe.

With the Chevrolet MyLink connected radio, a standard feature on upper trim of the Trax, drivers will have a system at their fingertips that is easy to use and allows them to access media including specialist apps from compatible portable devices.

Driving Impressions
To be fair and honest the Trax is very easy to drive but not as much fun as you would expect from its gorgeous exterior look. The Trax is more focused on ride comfort than on the driving experience. The front seats are supportive and the car has a very slight lean when driving over bumps and potholes. Around the city, its fairly compact dimensions do make it easy to get around and surely find a parking spot. The 1.8 liter petrol engine is extremely efficient; this is what I liked about it. Yet when deciding to overtake a car it takes more time than you would expect. I am hoping for a turbo engine to join the range later on. As far as I remember, when I drove the Juke and the Juke turbo, there was a huge difference between direct injection and turbo. However, when it comes to the automatic gearbox I felt it was a CVT because of the smooth shifting. But it was just normal 6-speed automatic.

Verdict
Some people will absolutely love it. Some will not. It is certainly more suitable for those “city adventures” than any off-road ones. I would positively recommend it to families and couples too. It is roomy and all rolled into one nice little package. The Trax begins at the affordable end of the vehicle range. It will be available in two trim levels: LT and LTZ, with a choice of FWD and AWD. The manufacturer's suggested retail prices starts at AED 67,000 for the LT model (A/T, FWD) and AED 83,000 for the LTZ (A/T, AWD). Chevrolet Trax will be sold in two countries: the UAE and Lebanon, where there is a high demand for small-sized vehicles. Sales will begin end of March.

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