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Chevrolet Trax: Budget Encore

December 2014, by Tariq Kamal - Also by this author

Built upon the same Gamma II platform as the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Encore, the Chevrolet Trax is a new subcompact crossover SUV with a global reach — so much so, in fact, that General Motors has already moved more than 90,000 units in foreign markets since 2012. The Trax will make its stateside debut in late winter or early spring as a 2015 model.

The Trax will share its powerplant and underpinnings with the cushy Encore while borrowing design cues from the streetwise Sonic.

A 1.4-liter Ecotec turbo inline four will be mated with a six-speed automatic transmission to deliver 138 horsepower (hp) and 148 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque and burn 34 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway. No plans for a stick shift, bigger engine or hybrid model have been announced.

Test drives of earlier models won praise for handling, acceleration and overall drivability. The Encore’s MacPherson strut front suspension, torsion-beam rear axle and four-wheel disc brakes all carry over. Front-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive models should be available at launch.

Specs for the 2015 Chevrolet Trax.
Specs for the 2015 Chevrolet Trax.

The sheet metal is exceedingly close in shape and posture to the Encore. The Trax adds pronounced rear fenders and a Sonic-esque dual grille and gold bowtie. The cabin is utilitarian throughout, but sporty dials and instruments and a prominent digital speedometer add some panache.

The Trax will hold 48.4 cubic feet of cargo with the split rear seats folded flat; the front passenger seat folds down to accommodate items up to 8 feet long.

The Trax will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims. The base LS will be equipped with 16-inch wheels, 10 airbags, a rearview camera, cornering brake control and brake assist. The LT brings deluxe cloth and aluminum wheels, while the LTZ ups the ante with full leatherette trim and 18-inch rims.

All models will include a 7-inch touchscreen to access GM’s MyLink interface and available OnStar, Wi-Fi hotspot and Siri Hands Free.

To compete in a class that already includes the 188-hp Nissan Juke as well as the Kia Soul and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the Trax will have to come in at a price point well below the Encore’s starting MSRP of $24,990.

Look for a figure that will fall somewhere between the $16,640 Soul and the bigger, badder Juke, which starts at $21,385.

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