The Chevrolet Trax subcompact SUV is built on the same platform as the Buick Encore and, like that model, is overdue for a full redesign. Although the Trax did see a major refresh in 2017, the inexpensive Chevrolet has survived with the same bones since the 2013 model year. The 2022 Trax is available in just two trims, the LS and LT, but a new engine with more grunt promises to wake up those old bones.
In 2017, Chevy gave us a revitalized Trax with upgrades in style, materials, refinement, and functionality. Since then, the small crossover that first rolled off the assembly line in 2012 has received additional incremental improvements—like the new direct-injected turbo engine it acquired for 2022—but nothing close to the makeover it got a handful of years ago.
Now, it seems like Chevy is prepping the little ute for something else. Trims have been whittled down to just two and features like forward collision alert are no longer available. Is a new Trax on the horizon? We hope so.
When we tested the now-retired Trax LTZ, we mostly liked what we drove. The interior was comfortable, spacious, and nicely styled, and since the lineup's 2017 revamp, looks more like the Buick Encore's upscale cabin. The Trax is by no means sporty, with little cornering grip and gutless acceleration, but the upgraded engine means to improve that. It is, however, highly adaptable to urban settings where space is tight, like a proper subcompact should be. It's clear that a new Trax is necessary, if only to attract new attention in a segment that is very hot right now. If your only consideration for a new SUV is price, the Trax should be on your list. Otherwise? You've got many other options.
The 2022 Trax's new 155-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 replaces the lineup's 138-hp turbo-four, the primary difference between the two engines being direct injection. The new mill develops 12 percent more horsepower and almost 20 percent more torque than the outgoing port-fuel injected unit. All 2022 Trax SUVs come with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and FWD or available AWD.
Fuel economy for the new engine is rated at 24/32 mpg city/highway for the Trax FWD and 23/30 mpg for the AWD. Highway fuel economy is identical to that of the 2022 Kia Soul when it's equipped with a 1.6-liter turbo-four but the Chevy's city mpg trails the Kia's. The Soul gets 27/32 mpg, but is only available with FWD. Even so, most Souls are equipped with a far more efficient 2.0-liter I-4 that blows away the Chevy in fuel economy, with mileage of 28-29/33-35 mpg.
Interest in the subcompact crossover segment is so great, some automakers are doubling—and in the case of Chevy, tripling—what they offer. Chevy sells the Trax, the slightly larger (but still subcompact) Trailblazer, and now the electric Bolt EUV. Chevy brand-mates Buick has doubled down with its Encore and Encore GX, the latter riding on the same underpinnings as the Trailblazer. Elsewhere in the segment, Kia offers the Soul and Seltos. Even Mazda had two options for a while with its CX-3 and slightly larger CX-30, but the CX-3's last model year was 2021.
The 2022 Trax received five-star overall safety ratings from the NHTSA for its FWD and AWD models. In IIHS testing of a 2021 model, the Trax received primarily Good ratings. Exceptions include an Acceptable grade in passenger-side crashworthiness as well as an Acceptable grade for child seat anchors, which the institute found to be too deep in second-row seats.
Surprisingly, there are no standard active safety features on either Trax trim level. A Driver Confidence package is available for the more expensive Trax LT. It adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, and rear parking sensors.
Neither 2022 Trax nor the 2021 Toyota C-HR are going to win any contests for interior spaciousness. With that said, each has its strengths, the Trax's being second-row legroom and cargo space with the second row folded.
Cargo space (behind first/second rows):
2022 Trax: 48.4/18.7 cubic feet
2021 C-HR: 37.0/19.1 cubic feet
Legroom (first/second rows):
2022 Trax: 40.8/35.7 inches
2021 C-HR: 43.5/31.7 inches
The Trax is one of the least expensive ways to get into a Chevy SUV, and as a budget-minded offering it comes lean on content. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen, six-speaker audio system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are notable features on the base model Trax LS. The Trax LT gets projector-beam headlights, LED taillights, a 120-volt power outlet, and remote start that's available for the Trax LS. Through available packages, features like keyless entry and pushbutton start, six-way adjustable power driver's seat, and heated front seats can be added.
With just two trim levels for the Trax (LS and LT), Chevy makes choosing a trim easy. We think the Trax LT AWD is best for its upgraded features and available Driver Confidence package that adds active safety technologies. We'd also add the Redline Edition package for the black badges and black 18-inch wheels, because we're edgy like that. Expect our optioned-up LT to come in north of $27,000 before incentives.
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