The Trax, which has been sold in other markets since early last year, is a clone of the Buick Encore and Opel Mokka compact crossovers and uses the same GM Korea Gamma II platform that underpins the Chevy Sonic. It made its first U.S. appearance at the 2013 North American International Auto Show.
“Trax offers customers another option in the Chevrolet family and will be a strong competitor in the emerging small-SUV market, which is expected to grow more than 80 percent by 2016,” said Alan Batey, GM senior vice president, Global Chevrolet. “Trax also leverages our global resources and builds on Chevrolet’s strong SUV heritage.”
The Trax will share the Encore’s turbocharged, 1.4-liter Ecotec engine that develops 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Expect 0-60 times in the nine-second range.
GM gets a bit more from the engine by using electric power steering, eliminating the parasitic losses of a belt-driven system.
EPA estimates for the front-wheel-drive Encore are 25 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway and 28 mpg Combined. Opting for the available all-wheel-drive knocks the numbers down to 23 City, 30 Highway and 25 Combined. The Trax should be very close to those numbers.
Since the “U” in CUV stands for “Utility,” the Trax will be able to accommodate items up to eight feet long with the rear seats and front passenger seat folded down. Maximum cargo space is 48.4 cubic feet but that drops down to 18.8 cubic feet if the rear seats are in use.
GM says the Encore is a five-passenger vehicle and will doubtless make the same claim for the Trax but rear-seat occupants will have to be young children. Otherwise, three-across will be a surefire way to shed unwanted friends.
The Trax option list will include all the electronic distractions with OnStar 4G LTE, a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, MyLink technology with a class-exclusive seven-inch color touch screen and first-in-class Siri Eyes Free.
A rearview camera and keyless entry are standard; remote start is an option.
The Chevrolet Trax will be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trims. Pricing will be announced later.
It will be interesting to see how GM works out a viable price-point for the Trax. The Encore’s base MSRP is $24,160 and there will have to be enough of a gap to minimize the two stealing each other’s sales. This most likely means at least some of the standard features of the Buick will become options or unavailable on the Trax. If they don’t cut too many corners, the Trax should be a fun little wagon; the 2013 Encore we tested was a very pleasant vehicle (see “2013 Encore: A small package containing good things”).