Sometimes, corporate product planning decisions don't make a lot of sense at first glance, but in the fullness of time, everything falls logically into place. Case-in-point with the Buick Encore. Until the Encore's introduction, Buick's only crossover in its lineup was the large Lambda-chassis Enclave. Now you can have a Buick SUV in one of two sizes: small and extra-large. Some were wondering why Buick instead didn't get a more logically-sized midsize model based on the Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet didn't get a sub-Equinox compact. Well, we have it on good authority that with the redesign of the Theta midsize crossover platform (or whatever its successor will be called), Buick will get a midsizer. However, in the meantime, Chevrolet will get its own version of the Gamma-II-based Encore in the U.S. market with the 2015 Chevrolet Trax.
For some unknown reason, other than letting the Buick Encore get its 15 minutes of fame, the Trax was introduced to the Canadian and global markets in 2013. So while not completely new to the world, the Trax is new to the U.S. market. Mechanically, if you're familiar with the Encore, you'll be familiar with the Trax. The powertrain is the familiar 1.4-liter 138-hp turbo I-4 mated exclusively to the Hydra-matic 6T40 six-speed automatic. Customers have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
In terms of styling, inside and out, the Trax has a decidedly youthful theme following in the footsteps of the Sonic compact, rather than the Encore's mini-Enclave feel. The gauge cluster features an analog tachometer and digital speedometer, like the Sonic, and rather than a full-fledged built-in navigation system like the Buick, features a MyLink system similar to the Sonic’s where apps from the owner's smartphone are mirrored to the available center touchscreen display, including the BringGo navigation app. The Trax also features Apple's Siri Eyes-Free technology to enable certain voice-command functions of the phone through the car's voice command system. For those with the need for mad connectivity, a built-in 4G LTE hotspot is available.
For safety features, a major perceptive purchase consideration for compact crossovers, the Trax features 10 standard airbags, a standard rearview camera, standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, StabiliTrak with traction control and rollover mitigation, and cornering brake control.
Although measuring a trim 168.5 inches bumper-to-bumper, the Trax makes the most of its size with a flat-folding front passenger seat, allowing for carrying of items up to eight feet long with the rear seats folded. Cargo volume behind the second row is a respectable 18.7 cubic feet, and 48.4 cu. ft. with the second row seats folded.
Like most other Chevrolet models, the Trax will be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels, with 16-inch wheels and tires standard, and 18-inch alloy wheels standard on the LTZ trim. The Trax is expected to go on-sale in late 2014 to early 2015.
| 2015 Chevrolet Trax |
| Base price || $21,000-$23,000 (est) |
| Vehicle layout || Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| Engine || 1.4L/138-hp/148-lb-ft DOHC turbocharged 16-valve I-4 |
| Transmission || 6-speed automatic |
| Curb weight || 2805-3208 lb (mfr est) |
| Wheelbase || 100.6 in |
| Length x width x height || 168.5 x 69.9 x 65.9 in |
| 0-60 mph || 9.5-10.5 sec (TT est) |
| EPA city/hwy fuel econ || 24-26/31-34 mpg (mfr est) |
| CO2 emissions || 0.67-0.73 lb/mile (est) |
| On sale in U.S. || January 2015 |