When I first glanced at pictures of the 2013 Chevrolet Trax, I thought I had found a new nameplate to add to my list. When I took delivery of my Trax, I was immediately smitten with its quirky almost cute mug. The love quickly dissipated in the course of our comparo as the Chevrolet Trax lost its grip in the shootout.
What is a Trax?
General Motors dubs the 2013 Chevrolet Trax the “smart SUV.” The fact of the matter is that it’s a compact crossover that further blurs the definition of what a CUV is.
The Trax competes against the likes of the Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan as well as taking on the Mitsubishi RVR and Subaru XV Crosstrek.
The name would suggest that the Trax is a minimally capable off-roader; however, this is not the case. Available with AWD, the 2013 Chevrolet Trax is primarily urbanite as its outer dimensions suggest maneuverability and its ability to fit in relatively small parking spots.
The 2013 Chevrolet Trax is shod out of the box with a turbocharged 4-cylinder ECOTEC 1.4L engine that produces 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The LS model has a standard 6-speed manual transmission in base trim, and a 6-speed autobox is optional, standard on all other trims. Front-wheel-drive is standard while AWD is a $1,950 option. Pricing starts at $18,495.
Driving the Trax
Despite the smallish displacement motor, the turbo manages to make things generally interesting. Perhaps the best aspect of the drivetrain is its impressively frugal fuel consumption numbers; we averaged fewer than 10L/100 km on test day, the best by far of the lot. Acceleration is decent, but the addition of three passengers to go along with the driver maxes out what the powertrain can achieve.
The optional 6-speed autobox swaps gears with skill, but prefers to do things at its rate. In other words, the Trax does not like to be rushed. With the available AWD, the 2013 Chevrolet Trax proves to be a competent tool to get around on snow-covered roads, particularly in the city. Where the countryside is concerned, as I found out firsthand during the comparo drive, things aren’t as good.
What became evident was the Trax’s suspension calibration or, better yet, lack thereof. The 2013 Chevrolet Trax suffered from poor weight transfer control on some of the twistier country roads. The same applied to strut rebound and compression control; in short, the Trax felt floaty while the others remained composed and surefooted.
Steering was numb with little feedback but thankfully, its precision was never put in doubt. As for the brakes, the top portion of pedal travel was mushy and therefore unresponsive. It was not as disconcerting as with a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu we recently entered in another comparo test.
Despite the less than stellar performances on the open road, the 2013 Chevrolet Trax proved to be an excellent and comfortable steed in the city. It is clear why GM refers to it as the “REAL” city adventurer.
Inside and out of the Trax
The most endearing aspect of the 2013 Chevrolet Trax is its outer appearance. Stout and snub-nosed, its short overhangs and wheels at all four corners really make it the perfect “cute” urban jungle-conquering vehicle.
Its tall 5-door body configuration lends itself well to young, small family duty; however, fitting anything more than two adults (or three kids) on the rear bench will work if only for a very short period.
Sadly, the remainder of the cabin takes a serious nosedive. GM designers may have thought to fit a large number of storage areas throughout but they did not think to make it all fit harmoniously together. The dashboard is a smorgasbord of cheap looking, differently textured and poorly assembled pieces of plastic.
The high points include the very easy to use and pleasant to behold MyLink that just about seamlessly brings music, video, smartphones and the like together in a fun-to-use way. Fair marks go to the front seats, the driving position and overall visibility.
Comparing the Trax
As we discovered in our comparo test of Compact Crossover Alternatives, the 2013 Chevrolet Trax has everything it needs on paper but falls short in execution.
The most hurt on the Trax comes from its pricing. Our AWD 2LT came in at just under $29,000 which is quite pricey when you consider that it has no heated seats or fog lights while those of equal of less money in the comparo did.