2017 Chevrolet Trax First Drive

Chevy’s entrant into the hottest-growing segment in the car biz has only been on sale here since the 2015 model year, but globally it went into production in 2013. That means the tooling is ready for an update, and this presented a golden opportunity to give it the new face of Chevrolet. As we covered during the Chicago Auto Show launch, it gets a new hood, new front and rear lamps and fascias, and of course the new split-level Chevy grille.

2017 Chevrolet Trax

This latter may be the greatest safety advance in a vehicle so clearly targeted at the urban under-35 set, which is preternaturally and perpetually attached to its phones, by allowing the most commonly used smartphone functions to be managed hands-free, such as reading and replying to text messages completely by voice. If that doesn’t sufficiently free up their attention to cope with the tasks of driving, the full suite of safety gear, including forward collision alert, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning, are ready to help, and they come standard on LT and Premier grades. It also provides turn-by-turn map-guided navigation on the cheap from the phone as well as easy access to all the user’s favorite stored and streamed entertainment.

There’s nothing new in the drivetrain department, so for our first drive Chevy invited us to Chicago to spend a day pretending to be a millennial urbanite finding fun in the Windy City. We drove to (and even into and through) the Lincoln Park zoo then rolled up through the Gold Coast and across the Northwestern University campus to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Along the way the PR team peppered us with text messages to our connected smartphones, and we frequently ditched the printed directions and navigated via Apple Maps, which always politely dimmed our selected Pandora stream to suggest our next turn. After a quick bike ride on the Bloomingdale Line, aka the 606, and a swing past Wrigley Field, we pulled up for lunch at a totally hip Mexican diner called Dove’s Luncheonette—a Wicker Park institution.

What more can we tell you about the Trax? Not much that we didn’t know before. The ride quality’s a touch better on the LT’s tall-wall 16-inch tires, but the top-shelf Premier model’s 18-inch wheels look better. Neither model will set your hair on fire with its cornering grip or acceleration performance, but it easily keeps up with the (mostly ebbing) flow of urban-center traffic, it’s way easier than most cars or crossovers to place into a short hole in traffic, and the view from the high-chair seating position always had us thinking we were driving a much bigger vehicle—until it came time to parallel park (with the assistance of the standard rearview camera).

Will all of this be enough to help elevate the Trax from its current fifth place sales ranking (behind the Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, Subaru XV Crosstrek, and Jeep Renegade)? Ask an urban millennial.

2017 Chevrolet Trax
BASE PRICE $21,895-$28,495
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 1.4L/138-hp/148-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 3,150-3,300 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 100.6 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 167.2 x 69.9 x 64.8 in
0-60 MPH 9.0-10.1 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 24-25/30-33/27-28 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 135-140/102-112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.69-0.74 lb/mile
ON SALE IN U.S. Currently

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