2024 Chevrolet Trax Quick Spin: Fully Loaded and Only $26,000?!

chevrolet trax activ 2024 01 exterior dynamic front angle scaled jpg 2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry
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Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with Cars.com for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-bruzek-2699b41b/ Email Joe Bruzek

With a starting price just over $21,000 with destination charge, the 2024 Chevrolet Trax is one of the top 10 least expensive new cars out there. This is notable because the Trax has been completely redesigned for 2024, is significantly larger and has more technology. It’s also less expensive than its predecessor last seen as a 2022 model.

Our first opportunity to drive the Trax came at the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s 2023 Spring Rally in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., and I drove the uplevel Activ trim level that, amazingly, was still only around $26,000 — even with some options packages. When the average new car transaction price is around $45,000, this is impressive, but does it drive like a cheap car?

Related: 2024 Chevrolet Trax: Burgeoning Space, Tech; Shrinking Price, HP

How It Accelerates

The Trax no longer offers all-wheel drive, so it has technically lost its SUV designation in our classifications, but call the line officially blurred because by all other SUV measures, including ride height, seating position and cargo versatility, the Trax is similar to other small utility vehicles.

The Trax’s only engine and transmission is a 137-horsepower, turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder and six-speed automatic, which strangely is less powerful than the outgoing Trax’s 155-hp engine. The new engine dishes out an initial punch before it runs out of steam around 45 mph, so while good for around town, there’s not much going on if you need to call upon the engine for highway maneuvers. But given the smaller power number on paper, I was surprised by how punchy it actually was around town. Anything that surprises in this price range is notable when cars like the Hyundai Venue, Honda HR-V, Toyota Corolla Cross or Nissan Kicks don’t have much happening under the hood.

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How it gets there is slightly different than the class, however, because the drivability of the engine and transmission is more pleasant thanks to the traditional six-speed automatic that makes crisp upshifts and eager downshifts to get the car moving. I prefer this experience to the sluggish responsiveness and screaming engine noise that comes with many affordable cars that use a continuously variable automatic transmission. The downside of the six-speed might be in fuel economy because while the new Trax’s 30-mpg combined gas mileage rating is improved versus the old one’s 27 mpg rating, it’s less than a Nissan Kicks (33 mpg), front-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla Cross (32 mpg) or Hyundai Venue (31 mpg). We’ll have to spend more time with the Trax to get an idea of its real-world fuel economy.

Ride and Handling

The Trax has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than the old model, which can help ride quality, and a wider track (the distance between the right and left wheels) for improved handling. The new footprint helps the Trax drive like a more substantial car than its budget price suggests, with confident road holding and stability at highway speeds. And even with the Activ’s 18-inch wheels, the ride harshness and impacts over broken pavement weren’t bad during my quick spin, though a more demanding test would be the cratered highways in the Chicago suburbs where we normally test.

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Interior Comfort

The new Trax is nearly a foot longer and 2 inches wider than the previous generation. Its overall height is also 4 inches lower than before, which helps give it a low, long look. Compared to other small Chevys, this is an interesting package because the Trax actually has more listed overall interior volume than the brand’s subcompact Trailblazer SUV, which is more expensive; 99.8 cubic feet for the Trax versus 98.2 cubic feet for the Trailblazer. I’m 6 feet tall and had no complaints with front- or rear-seat roominess. In fact, for the price, it was commendable how much backseat legroom and headroom I had; it’s more reminiscent of the Subaru Crosstrek (a large car for the price) than the smaller rear seats in cars like the Kicks, Mazda CX-30 or Corolla Cross. While I fit in the car acceptably, the jury is still out on whether the Trax is “comfortable.” I was only in it for a short drive, and longer drives will be needed to uncover deeper comfort issues that may exist.

chevrolet trax activ 2024 24 interior backseat scaled jpg 2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Technology

The Activ trim level comes with a mighty screen for a small car: an 11-inch center dashboard touchscreen that’s paired with a fully digital instrument cluster; an 8-inch touchscreen is standard. The screens impress with bright, high-resolution graphics and an easy-to-use user interface, and the backup camera’s crystal-clear image is highly usable. The combination adds a lot of modernity to the Trax’s cockpit. You also get standard wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto connectivity, and the $895 Sunroof Package includes a wireless charger, making the Trax fully equipped for completely wireless phone mirroring, which can’t be said for many other value-oriented competitors.

chevrolet trax activ 2024 12 interior front row scaled jpg 2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The Trax Activ I drove with the Sunroof Package and Driver Confidence Package comes with these features for $26,540:

  • Remote start
  • Heated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Imitation leather upholstery
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Front pedestrian detection and braking
  • Lane departure steering assist
  • Lane departure warning

What You Don’t Get

As mentioned, there’s a less powerful engine than before and no AWD. But what else aren’t you getting? You’ll have to be OK with hard-plastic interior parts, even on highly used touch points. The front door panels are almost entirely hard plastic, and even though the armrest has some give, I hesitate to call it padded or soft. Some vehicles, like the Ford Maverick compact pickup truck, make the best of hard-plastic interiors with interesting designs and finishes, but there’s minimal standout interior accents or materials in the Trax. The one bit that did stand out was the Activ’s neon-yellow accents on the climate vents and dashboard, but it’s the vibrant high-resolution screens that make the Trax’s interior “nice,” not interior materials quality like in a Mazda CX-30 or Subaru Crosstrek.

chevrolet trax activ 2024 23 interior door scaled jpg 2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Trax Takeaways

The Trax has a heaping dose of technology and roominess for the money, which are qualities we like to see in new cars under $30,000 (see our value-packed Best Car of 2023 for an example). It’s especially refreshing when you consider that average transaction prices have climbed well into the $40,000 range.

One fascinating aspect of the Trax is less measurable, however, and that’s how it doesn’t look like a $21,000 car. I’d expect a $21,000 car to look like the old Trax: not just inexpensive, but also cheap. The new Trax has a long nose, sleek roofline and rear haunches that convey a more expensive vehicle; specifically, the more expensive Chevrolet Blazer mid-size SUV.

This was just a brief drive, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for a more thorough evaluation, which will include our standardized cargo and car-seat testing, but when we check those boxes, you’ll for sure see that on Cars.com.

Shop the 2024 Chevrolet Trax near you

Chevrolet Certified
2024 Chevrolet Trax LS
7,211 mi.
$22,495
New
2024 Chevrolet Trax FWD 2RS
$26,685 MSRP $26,685

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