They got rid of all-wheel drive? What was Chevrolet thinking when it designed the 2024 Trax? It turns out that the folks at Chevy were thinking about how to give their cheapest model an even lower price while making the Trax even bigger and more fuel-efficient than ever before.
Cars might not be completely dead yet, but they’re on the verge — at least when it comes to affordable cars. While GM used to offer loads of small sedans and hatchbacks, with the death of the Chevrolet Sonic and Bolt this year, it doesn’t offer any.
But there are still plenty of buyers who don’t want to drop 30 grand on their next ride. Or even 25 large. For those buyers, Chevrolet needed to offer something. I’m in the hills of Eastern Quebec’s Charlevoix region to find out just what the latest Trax brings to the economy car table.
In short: The 2024 Chevy Trax is an incredible value proposition. It is one of the least expensive cars on the U.S. market while offering most of the creature comforts you expect in a new car in 2024. Sure it’s missing things like AWD and some comforts, but it has loads of room and an interior that is much nicer than it should be at this price point.
2024 Chevrolet Trax
- Engine 1.2L turbocharged three-cylinder
- HP 137
- Torque 167
- MPG 28 city, 32 highway
- Cargo 25.6, 54.1 behind front seats
- Towing N/A
- Massive size
- Low price
- Peppy engine
- Not a CVT
- Loads of features
- Lackluster MPG
- No AWD
- No tow rating
Trax Gets GM’s Biggest Glow-Up Yet
Based on an all-new platform from China, the 2024 Trax (assembled in Korea) is 11 inches longer than the model it replaces. Six of those inches are between the wheels, so the Trax gains passenger space as well as a significant amount of cargo room.
The old Trax offered more cargo space than anything else in its price range, and the new one is even larger. It boasts 4.5 inches more rear legroom than Hyundai’s Venue and 5 inches more than the Nissan Kicks. Trax also has 25.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 54.1 with the seats folded, about 75% more than the competition offers.
It’s also an extremely usable cargo space. The seats fold easily to nearly flat and thanks to the long wheelbase, you don’t need to adjust the headrests to do it. You’re left with a long and flat cargo area with a big opening to get to it.
Get in and it’s obvious that Chevrolet isn’t fudging the space figures. The rear seat room is massive, and the front seat space is big too. This doesn’t feel like a subcompact, even though that’s how it is priced.
No AWD Helps Keep Costs Down
The choice to drop all-wheel drive plays a big part in how Chevrolet could keep the price down while expanding content, features, and footprint. Developing and certifying two drivelines costs more money. AWD uses more parts, and those cost even more money. So, the 2024 Trax doesn’t have it. Take a fraction of your savings, buy winter tires, and don’t think twice about it.
Dropping the old 1.4L four for a 1.2L three is also part of the cost savings. The turbocharged triple makes 137 horsepower and it delivers its peak of 162 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 rpm all the way to 4,000 rpm. This little engine makes 90% of its torque starting from 1,700 revs, so it feels capable throughout the rev range.
This is a highly tweaked version of the 1.2L used in the slightly smaller but pricier — there’s that AWD expense at work — Chevrolet Trailblazer. A stiffer crankshaft and other changes help make the engine much quieter than it was before.
2024 Trax 1.2L Three: Big Power, Little Noise
Combine the internal changes with standard active noise cancellation — microphones detect road and engine noise then cancel it through the stereo — and this is an impressively smooth powertrain.
Floor the gas and you’ll hear it, but only just. By subcompact standards, it is acoustically invisible; compared with cars double the price, it is still quiet. The engine comes on quickly and delivers solid acceleration for the segment.
Give credit to the six-speed automatic. In a segment full of mushy CVTs, Chevrolet’s choice to use a more conventional automatic makes the Trax much better to drive. The six-speed is responsive, quick to downshift, and direct, things CVTs can never manage.
Trax Fuel Economy Lags Lower-Powered Competition
There is, of course, a compromise. Having 20 more horses and no CVT makes the 2024 Chevy Trax thirstier than Venue or Kicks. I saw 31 miles per gallon, right on with the official 32 miles per gallon highway rating (28 city per the EPA). That’s not much better than the old Trax and well behind the 31/36 city/highway rating of the Kicks.
AWD or not, fuel economy is the tradeoff of the industry’s run to the crossover instead of the sedan. A 1.5T Chevy Malibu is more powerful and gets better fuel economy, for example.
LS Does Not Mean Low on Stuff
The 2024 Trax lineup starts with the LS grade at $20,400, before destination and any other fees. For that price you get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the aforementioned active noise cancellation, and tinted rear glass.
LS grade also comes with Chevrolet Safety Assist, a suite that includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, and lane keep assist. It also has automatic high beams, GM’s following distance indicator, and conventional cruise control is included.
If you want even more driver aids, Chevrolet offers the Driver Confidence Package. For $250 it offers rear cross-traffic alerts and side blind spot monitoring. If you want adaptive cruise, you’ll need to step up to the LT trim, and then add that same pack for $650 to get all three features.
RS & Activ Trims Top Trax Range
Trax offers two RS trims, both of which have black bowtie badges and a black grille bar as well as 18-inch (1RS) and 19-inch (2RS) wheels. They get red interior accents, too, and a flat-bottom steering wheel that is leather-wrapped and heated.
Activ and 2RS sit at the top of the range. Activ has 18-inch wheels and more body-color trim instead of the RS’s blackout look. Both get leather, while Activ has acid-yellow accents on the seats and dash instead of the red one in the RS.
Unlike other RS and Activ models from Chevrolet, suspension tuning is the same. So pick based on style, not based on your plans for pavement or gravel.
Sitting right in the middle is the bargain of the bunch, the $22,300 LT. It gets the bigger screen and digital dash along with a push-button start. Added heated seats and the extra safety kit for $1,245, and you’re looking at a remarkably affordable price in 2023.
Cheap Price, Not Cheap Cabin
This isn’t a bargain-basement cabin, either. Yes, there are some rock-hard plastics on the dash and door panels, but everything looks good. And the surfaces you touch regularly are at least soft-ish. Crucially, everything looks well put together and everything matches.
Plus, Chevrolet has added plenty of in-cabin flourishes. Lower trims get blue accents and a textured dash applique while RS grades get red trim and Activ has that acid-yellow piping along with your choice of black or light gray inlays on the dash or doors. The color change applies even inside the vents, and it makes this little crossover feel more fun.
The 8.0-inch digital dash is clear and easy to read, though I’m not a fan of the gauge layouts Chevrolet has chosen. There are three different layouts, but I would rather have the traditional analog gauges (and 3.5-inch digital display) of the more basic grades. This dash is missing many of the more elaborate info sets other GM models offer, things like brake pad life and transmission temperature, but they likely won’t be missed and help with that all-important window sticker.
The 11.0-inch center screen (8.0 inches on LS and base RS) is angled sharply toward the driver. It doesn’t have many menus to scroll through, but those it does have are easy to navigate. The system is very responsive, but it should be since it’s so simple. Navigation isn’t even offered, with Chevrolet assuming (quite reasonably) that you’ll be using your phone in place of the built-in system.
Drives Like Bigger, Pricier Models
The 2024 Trax doesn’t drive like a subcompact. Thank the wheelbase and its lower roofline for the Trax’s ability to ignore wind gusts and big trucks on the highway. The steering is vibration free and well-weighted — neither of which is a guarantee in this price class — and though the Trax is not a vehicle for enthusiasts, it is pleasant to drive.
On dirt roads, the tuning doesn’t work as well. Drive slowly when the pavement ends and you should be OK. Try to go more than about 15 mph, and things get bumpy in a hurry. The Trax does offer 7.3 inches of ground clearance, which is much more than the cars it replaces and as much as many of its AWD competitors. So, at least the underside should be OK if you head down that cottage road.
Trax Targets Used Car Buyers
The Trax isn’t aimed just at buyers who are looking for the cheapest new vehicle they can find. Chevy said it is going after buyers who are shopping for that affordable first new vehicle but it is also looking at buyers who would normally be shopping for something lightly used.
With the explosion in used car prices over the last few years, an off-lease Equinox or even a slightly older Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 aren’t the great buys they once were. Especially when this 2024 Trax can offer most of the same features, a comparable interior, and nearly as much cabin space. All with the benefit of a new car warranty and new car finance rates.
2024 Chevrolet Trax Review: Conclusions
Entry-level cars have to be cheap. And these days, they have to offer a load of equipment aimed at tech-hungry young buyers. What they don’t have to be is this big. Or this good.
Chevrolet has managed to hit all four of those targets with what might be the most competitive and appealing small car the company has ever built. It’s a crossover that happens to be cheap, not a cheap crossover. If you can get around the need for all-wheel drive, which most buyers can, this is a tough combination to beat. The 2024 Chevrolet Trax is rolling into dealers now.