The all-new 2024 Chevy Trax may look like a bucket of compromises on paper, but when you drive it and experience it for yourself, it becomes a bucket of surprises. A torquey and audibly supreme engine, a well-designed interior, shockingly good driving dynamics, and a shockingly good price make the Trax the most fun-to-drive and likable entry in the subcompact crossover segment. Are you hooked?
For 2024, Chevy decided to turn the Trax into a more attractive, low-slung hatchback. It’s longer and lower than the model it replaces and is even larger than the more expensive Trailblazer. Its wheelbase grew by quite a bit as well, giving rear passengers a lot to celebrate. Spoiler alert: it’s huge back there. The switch to a front-wheel-drive-only platform allowed designers to maximize interior space while also designing a silhouette that is more pleasing to the eye.
Up front, you’ll find LED headlights standard, but the taillights are incandescent no matter how far up the ladder you climb. LS and LT trims have the more basic front grille look, while 1RS and 2RS bump up the sporty pretense. The Activ trim has the most unique grille of them all, so you have a three distinct themes to choose from.
Wheel sizes range from 17″ to 19″. LS and LT trims work with the smaller size, with steelies and hubcaps coming standard on the lowest trim (alloys are available on LS and standard on LT). 1RS comes with sportier 19″ alloys, while 2RS bumps them up to more attractive 19s with 245mm-wide tires. Yes, you read that right. 225s are standard on all other trims, giving the Trax more grip than anything else in this segment. The Activ trim comes standard with 18″ black aluminum alloys.
Inside, Chevy did what Kia and Hyundai have become known for – designed the interior to look more interesting than the materials would otherwise suggest. For the price, the dashboard has a more premium appearance than the Hyundai Venue, though. That model costs less and is smaller, but wasn’t graced with the same amount of creativity for its interior design. 8″ or 11″ screens are on offer, with an 8″ digital instrument cluster available on upper trims. The 11″ system runs GM’s new Android Automotive infotainment system, while the 8″ system runs the last-generation GM system. Both work very well and come standard with Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Even on lower trims, Chevy did a fantastic job designing the trim pieces and seat fabrics. On the 1RS trim, there’s a two-tone triangular theme going on. The base LS trim has blue accents, 2RS has red accents, and Activ has yellow ones. A standard-size moonroof is available on upper trims and throws in a wireless phone charger. If you’re looking for a banging audio system, the Trax will disappoint, as the best you can get from the factory is a 6-speaker system.
The rear seat and cargo areas are very accommodating for the Trax’s exterior footprint. Behind the second row you’ll find over 25 cubic feet of space, over 54 with the seats folded. Leg room is impressive, allowing long-legged folks to stretch out in ways that nothing else in the segment can. Head room is not as generous thanks to the low roof line, but even Alex at 6 feet-tall was able to sit back there without touching the ceiling. The nice thing about the upper trims is the fact that that sunroof isn’t standard, meaning tall drivers have the choice of more headroom even when they go for the most content.
Powering the Trax is Chevy’s teeny-tiny 1.2L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. It produces 137 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. Fuel economy is rated at 28 city, 32 highway and 30 combined. If you want a 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, there’s a Trailblazer for you out there. The decision to limit the Trax to this one setup was all focused on keeping the price low, and Chevy certainly succeeded on that front. This allowed them to dedicate the design and packaging to the FWD layout, increasing the interior volume in the process.
The first thing you’ll notice when you drive the Trax for the first time is the jolt of tire squeal when accelerating from a stop. This engine may be tiny, but it is torquey at the low end. Combined with the low curb weight, the car feels much peppier around town than the numbers suggest. It also sounds better than most 4-cylinder engines because the harmonics of a 3-cylinder are closer to a 6-cylinder. So, this may actually confuse some of your friends as to what kind of engine is under the hood. Since there is also the stepped automatic transmission, things feel more normal here than they do in the front-wheel drive Trailblazer with the same engine. That model uses a CVT.
As much as we prefer the 6-speed, the CVT does enable faster acceleration from 0-60 mph, which takes about 9.4 seconds in the Trax. Luckily, you won’t be drag racing a car like this, but if you want to drive with spirit around a mountain road, the Trax will more than oblige. With standard 225mm-wide tires, handling is absolutely excellent for the segment. That steps up another notch if you go for the 2RS trim, which rocks 245mm rubber. That is absolutely unheard of from anything this size in the mainstream space, and puts the Trax at the top of the pile when it comes to driving dynamics. It has been quite some time since we’ve had an affordable, fun-to-drive vehicle under $25,000 from any manufacturer in North America, and it’s been even longer since we’ve had one from General Motors. Another plus is how quiet this thing is. Active noise cancellation is standard on models and works wonders to quiet the cabin at highway speeds. You won’t find a more hushed interior at this price point.
There are incredibly few compromises with this package. Sure, we would love to see more gears in the transmission, and obviously more power never hurts. All of that would increase the price tag, though, and the mission of this vehicle is to deliver a fun-to-drive, roomy, and relatively efficient option for a very low sticker price. The Trax comes across as a more premium alternative to the Nissan Kicks or Hyundai Venue in terms of the driving nature. Like the Mazda3, there is only a semi-independent rear suspension in the rear, but is tuned to be well-behaved in most conditions to such a point that you may not even notice the inferior construction. Even out on rougher road surfaces, the Trax doesn’t become upset over broken pavement areas in the corners. Obviously, you’re going to experience a little bit more suspension motion on the opposite side versus a fully independent suspension, but the payback is that bigger cargo area in the rear. Independent suspensions are larger physically than non-independent suspensions, saving you a lot of space in the cargo area.
Bottom line, the Trax is a surprising amount of fun out of the road. If you’re looking for the best handling entry in this inexpensive crossover segment, this is hands-down going to be that option. Oddly enough, that even applies to the base trims because of the tires and the light curb weight (Chinese and Korean market versions of this weigh only 3,100 pounds). It also looks better than its more expensive Trailblazer sibling with a lower and wider stance. It comes with a lot of standard features but remains under $30k with every option. If you really need all-wheel drive, Chevy is keeping the Trailblazer around for that duty, but this is hands down the better vehicle. Would we recommend one? No question about it.
Five trim levels are available: LS, 1RS, LT, 2RS, and Activ. The base LS starts at $21,495 with destination and gives you steel 17″ wheels with hub caps (alloy wheels are optional), wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the outgoing Chevy infotainment system with an 8″ screen (still a great system), a 4-speaker audio system, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and forward autonomous emergency braking. The 1RS trim mimics the content from that trim but gives it the sportier appearance. Adaptive cruise, keyless entry and ignition, USB charge points, and lumbar control for the driver are not available on either.
Step up to the LS and you’ll have access to the 11″ infotainment screen with GM’s new Android Automotive infotainment system (a dumbed-down version of it, but it’s new nonetheless), a 6-speaker audio system, 8″ digital instrument cluster, and single-zone automatic climate. The 2RS and Active trims are practically the same (both $24,995) aside from unique front grilles and the the trade between a power driver’s seat and the 245mm-wide tires. They come standard with a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and LED signature DRLs. If you want adaptive cruise, a sunroof, a wireless charge pad, rear cross-traffic alert, or lane change alert with side blind zone alert, you’ll have to purchase additional packages. Active aero shutters and an engine block heater are also bundled together on a package on all trims.
All-in, the most expensive Trax will cost you $27,060, representing a stellar value in a segment full of gives and takes. Sure, there are a few of those here, but not nearly as many as just about anything else under $30k. We predict that the Trax will be hard for Chevy to keep on dealer lots.