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2015 Chevrolet Trax

Chevy Keeps on Track
2015 Chevrolet Trax

If you like the Buick Encore, but aren’t crazy about its nearly 25 grand starting price, there’s a reasonable alternative out there in the new Chevy Trax. Both are small SUVs built on the same platform. Styling is similar but different; from a block or two away it could be either or.

Both are equipped with GM’s 1.4L Ecotec turbo four cylinder engine, and it’s connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. I would have expected the Trax to offer a manual, but I guess that’s why I do this and GM markets automobiles. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Trax, while all-wheel drive is an available option. FWD models are EPA-rated at 26/34 city/highway, while the AWD comes in at 24/31.

The Trax seats five and has room behind the rear seat for 18.7 cu. ft. of your stuff; fold down the 60/40 split rear seat and the cargo area expands to 48.4 cu. ft., which means you can haul a bunch of stuff for that get-away vacation while telling the kids they can stay at Grandma’s for the weekend. Chevy tells us that there are up to eight different seating/cargo-carrying configurations on the Trax, including a fold-flat front seat which allows you to carry objects up to eight feet long and still close the rear hatch. I guess we’ve become a nation of people with small things which are needed at all times, because the Trax has more cubbyholes (15 of ‘em!) than your five-year old’s kindergarten class. Dashboard, under the seat, in the doors... if there’s a place they could carve a hole out of, they did.

Styling of the Trax of course is subjective. While it’s not as way-out there as one of its Japanese competitors (Hello, Nissan Juke), from the front it’s too similar for my taste to Chevy’s Sonic and Spark sub-compacts, while the rear is very Buick Encore-like. That said, it’s a pleasant design and one that won’t go out of style three years after you buy it.

The Trax went on sale in the U.S. earlier this year. Folks living in border areas may have seen them on the road before that though, as Chevy has been selling the Trax in Canada and Mexico for a while now. Buick began offering the Encore for the 2014 model year, and it was so successful I guess the suits at Chevy made enough noise to bring it here. In other countries around the globe it’s marketed as a Holden (Australia), the Chevy Tracker (Russia and South America), and the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka in Western Europe/Great Britain.

Some of the more interesting equipment on the Trax LS includes: hill start assist, which helps keep the Trax from rolling backwards after the brake is released on a street or driveway with a sharp incline; rear vision camera; an auxiliary 12-volt power outlet; OnStar with built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi, which allows you to connect smart devices to the internet; cargo cover; and carpeted floor mats. The LT adds: heated outside mirrors; 16” aluminum wheels; SiriusXM satellite radio; remote starter; cruise; and deep-tint glass. Top of the line LTZ gets you: fog lamps; rear park assist; 18” aluminum wheels; 6-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; and leather seating and steering wheel cover.

And the cost? The FWD Trax LS starts at $20,120 (or almost five grand less than the cheapest, but arguably better equipped, Buick Encore). The LT starts at $23,329 and the LTZ, which is probably closest to the Buick equipment-wise, starts at a very Buick-like $25,905.

Trying to decide between the two comes down to a couple of things: budget—for obvious reasons; and taste. You could also book a flight and buy yourself an Opel Mokka. Or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, some guy named Boris will be happy to sell you a new Chevy Tracker at Moscow Motors.

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