An SUV designed for city folk, and just as dependent on your phone as you are.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could connect your phone to your car, push a button on the steering wheel and Siri would read your texts? How about WiFi in your car that allows you to connect up to 10 devices? Or a navigation system that lives on your phone so you can set your routes and update information before you get in the car?
And that’s not even what excites me most about the Chevrolet Trax, a new entry to the US market that has been popular overseas for the last couple of years: this SUV is designed for the city. It’s small (meaning easy to park), versatile, maneuverable and efficient. It glides over potholes and speed bumps, it zips in and out of city traffic and it has enough cargo space to rationalize trips to Costco for a couple living in a fourth floor walk-up.
The SUV for city kids
The urban SUV is a big trend and one that will make our busy lives in crowded cities all the more manageable and civil.
I took the Trax for a spin recently and found that I would have LOVED having this car when I lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, where driving is a challenge and parking is a blood sport. Yet everyone has a car because, well, it’s New Jersey and you need a car.
Taking a cue from the Chevy Spark, another Chevrolet built for millennial/urban/digital natives that offers flexible space, the Trax is sized for cities and draws much of its information function from the driver’s phone. But the Trax takes it up a notch, with amenities such as all wheel drive, leatherette seating, fold flat seats including the front passenger seat, and all kinds of hidden storage spaces — 15 to be exact. The car’s phone connectivity system allows you to connect either via Bluetooth or USB; the car’s one USB port is in the glove box, which is a nice reminder to keep your hands off. Just don’t walk off and leave it in the car!
Your car is your phone
The Trax’s connectivity system is probably the car’s most attractive feature: it is simple and most of its functions operate from your phone: map and navigation are downloaded from the BrinGo app (a $50 purchase, but it lives on your phone where it receives updates and data); when connected, iPhone users can access Siri by pushing the talk button on the steering wheel, and the system will even read your texts to you. Also, you can watch a movie on the touch screen when the car is in park: just plug in a USB drive or supported device. Unfortunately phones don’t work with this feature. And, there’s a household outlet behind the center console just to ensure that all your devices stay charged.
The Trax also offers 4G LTE WiFi, OnStar, a rear view camera, XM radio and the touch screen on all models (OnStar and WiFi service require service plans, however), so even the base model, priced at about $21,000 has all the same connectivity options.
A good option for older drivers, too
When Chevrolet introduced the Spark a few years ago, a surprising thing happened: not only did younger drivers love it, so did older drivers who were attracted to its small size, modest price, flexible interior and fuel economy. Trax will likely have that appeal, too; with prices starting at about $21,000 and topping out at about $27,000, and fuel economy of 26 MPG city/34 highway, empty nesters will find it appealing, too. And another bonus for older non-phone-addicted drivers? You can just shut off the connectivity system, something my mom would rather do; she’d rather have OnStar there to help if she needs it (I like this option, too).
A capable and powerful car
I had the chance to drive the Trax around San Diego for a day and while I was hoping it would be all open sunroof and ocean vistas, the weather wasn’t on our side; it rained most of the time. Which was actually a bonus: the Trax was completely capable on rain-slicked hills, merging in and out of traffic, and hitting high speeds on the highway. The engine is peppy for this little car (it’s a turbo!), and I found myself having to ease off the gas when I was suddenly going a little too fast. I also felt secure on the highway; despite being a smaller car, trucks and traffic didn’t intimidate me. And with comfortable seats and plenty of headroom, it was a welcome and cozy respite from the rain.
What we loved
Flexible fold-flat seating and cargo space
Front passenger seat folds flat for up to 8 feet of linear cargo
15 storage spaces
Siri Eyes Free
4G TLE WiFi hot spot capable
Touch screen is video capable
Household plug outlet
All wheel drive
Remote start and keyless entry available
Touch screen is standard
Chevrolet complete care maintenance package (2 years)
Rear view camera with rear park assist
Turbo engine, giving this small engine plenty of power
What you need to know
3 years/36,000 mile warranty
Roadside assistance package included in price
26 MPG city/34 MPG highway
Maximum cargo space: 48 cubic feet
Uses regular fuel
Only 1 USB port, located in the glove box
Starting price: $21,000; nicely loaded, about $27,000
Disclosure: Chevrolet provided my travel and accommodations to test drive the Trax; opinions expressed here are all my own.