© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 Chevrolet Trax 2RS

2024 Chevrolet Trax 2RS front left
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2024 Chevrolet Trax 2RS front left

I’m sorry, but my experience with low-end Chevrolet products has not been stellar the last 35 years. And to be honest, there simply haven’t been many entry-level Chevies as of late.

With Chevy abandoning the car market (except Corvette) its entry-level offerings have been sparse and the previous Trax was, well, not great. I was ready to be underwhelmed by its replacement, the 2024 Trax. The fact that it’s assembled in Changwon, South Korea, didn’t boost my hopes. I was channeling Daewoo.

I’m here to tell you I was wrong, so very wrong.

This new Trax is a low-cost wonder that every family, young or old, looking for new wheels costing less than $25,000 should be doing backflips to get their hands on. OK, old folks won’t be doing back flips.

Chevy has a winner on its hands, if it will only tell the crossover buying world about it instead of lauding only its $50,000 to $75,000 trucks and SUVs on TV and in magazines.

First, Trax styling is the best from Chevy since Camaro (now gone) and frankly better than all its other crossovers and SUVs, although some claim this is a mini Blazer. It’s not blocky and boxy, it’s sporty with slim headlights that meld well into the grille and with sharp-looking running lights below. Taillights are equally stylish (not just square) and the profile with the rear-window’s overhanging spoiler looks as good as anything on the road that falls into this crossover class.

It didn’t hurt that the test Trax was bathed in sparkling Cayenne Orange paint (just $395 extra and worth it) that made this one easy to pick out in any crowded parking lot. Several other makes, Nissan and Subaru come to mind, have similar oranges that light up the dingy gray auto world’s staid color palette.

Now, I’m not gonna go all mushy in love with the Trax being the end-all for crossovers, just that it’s a dandy entry-level offering that doesn’t look or feel cheap. Plus Chevy got wise and included as standard a lot of today’s goodies and gadgets that other makes have been adding for years to up the value statement for low-cost vehicles.

Here’s the skinny on the performance.

Power is mild with just a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged Ecotec engine under the hood. That translates to 137 horsepower, but a respectable 162 pound-feet of torque. What that means is good low-end acceleration, such as from a stoplight or stop sign. Trax moves away not at a gallop but with enough energy to avoid that hurry-up let’s-go feeling. I never felt the cars or trucks with their imposing grilles behind me at a light were about to push me out of the way. Some entry-level vehicles plant that seed.

Getting on the highway takes a bit of time, yet the six-speed automatic transmission works well with the petit engine. However, the turbo can become a little noisy if the accelerator is floored. Plus, that action eats into your otherwise good gas mileage.

I managed 29 mpg and the EPA rates Trax at 28 mpg city and 32 highway. Seems realistic and regular unleaded is all the Chevy requires.

Handling is light and responsive, sort of sporty and fun, which one might expect in a crossover weighing just a tad beyond 3,000 pounds. I could zip around winding streets with a bit of flair and parking or doing a U-Turn was slick and easy.

Ride, well it’s pretty compliant, thanks in part to Trax riding on a 106-inch wheelbase. Mostly I felt comfortable and never shaken. Yes, there’s a bit of a choppy feeling on extremely rough Midwest streets, but no riders complained of a stiff ride. Bravo Chevy!

One drawback, for some, there’s no AWD available on any Trax, and this was the top-level 2RS (Rally Sport?). No, all are front-drive. If you want a similarly small Chevy crossover you must move up to the Trailblazer, which is actually a couple inches shorter in length and wheelbase than the Trax. Ah, marketing!

Chevy’s Safety Assist system is standard on all Trax models too. That includes forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with departure warning, intelligent high-beams. The tester added a $795 Driver Confidence package that included rear cross traffic alert, lane-change alert with blind spot warning, rear park assist, and adaptive cruise control. Good value, like the rest of the Traxr.

As handsome and sporty as the exterior is, the interior is equally impressive, even though there are a lot of hard plastic surfaces. Yet the dash has a textured top so it doesn’t look cheap and there are a lot of trim extras that spiff things up.

This being an RS model, the seat backs have red/orange RS embroidered there and stitching in the fake leather seats is orange to match the exterior while there’s a reddish stripe across the dash and the outer round air vents feature a sort of red sunburst pattern that makes them stand out. Other redish-orange accents help enliven the look too.

Chevy also drops an 11-inch info screen into the 2RS model, while an 8-incher is standard at the lower levels. It’s easy to adjust and see and not as glare prone as last week’s equally large Subaru Crosstrek’s screen.

Speaking of the Crosstrek, it’s in this pricing neighborhood too at its lower trim levels, but all Subies come with AWD, a plus.

Also standard here are heated seats and a heated steering wheel, which happens to be a sporty flat-bottom model. All controls are easy to get at and understand and push button start completes the modern look and feel.

Another option package added a small sunroof and the wireless phone charger under the center stack. For $895 many will find that a necessity.

Behind the rear split seats is plenty of cargo room, about 5 cubic feet more than the Crosstrek by the way, and that was generous too. The hatch is manual, as it should be at this price, and wisely there’s a rear window wiper.

A couple adults could fit in the rear seat too as there’s plenty of legroom back there.

Front seats are pretty comfy with well-shaped bottom cushions, but as this is a value-oriented car, no power front seats. I’d like to see the driver’s seat at least get power. Meanwhile there’s a pump handle on the side to raise and lower the seat height. That’s needed.

Not all is perfect, as one would expect at a low price point. This isn’t a Ferrari.

Like many crossovers, SUVs and trucks, there’s a big A-pillar/side mirror that limits side views for the driver, plus the thin sun visors neither slide nor have extenders to block the sun when it’s right up by the rearview mirror.

Climate controls provide just a single setting, so driver and passenger must agree on the heat or cooling level. That may not be an issue for everyone.

Plus, there’s the now standard annoying rear seat warning that is set off any time someone has opened a rear door prior to a drive. The computer nag suspects you may have left a valuable in the rear seat and sadly here too, Chevy went with a shrill seat belt warning chime that encourages a driver to buckle up before pressing the start button for fear of losing his or her hearing.

I know I’ve gone on and on about value here, but the bottom line is that this is a big win for Chevy and any Trax buyer. The base LS model lists at $21,495 with delivery. There are four more trim levels topping out at $24,995 for this 2RS model. Really, you can look it up!

Even adding the special paint and two nice option packages the tester hit only $27,080 and that’s a bargain for any young or less monied car buyer.

Those requiring AWD will find a base Trailblazer for $26,395 and it has a slightly peppier 1.3-liter turbo that makes 155 horsepower with a 174 torque rating. The top Activ Trailblazer lists at $29,995, but remember too it’s slightly smaller than the Trax.

I like Trax and you will too!

FAST STATS: 2024 Chevrolet Trax 2RS

Hits: Sporty looking high-value crossover with light handling, good low-end acceleration, decent ride, good mpg and safety systems. Sharp color, heated seats and steering wheel, sunroof, flat-bottom wheel, push-button start, big screen, easy controls, wireless charger, rear window wiper.

Misses: No AWD available (try Trailblazer), mild overall power, big A-pillar/mirror limits side views, ride can be choppy on rough streets, no power driver’s seat, single climate controls, no rear center armrest, no sun visor extenders, annoying rear seat warning and shrill seat belt warning chime.

Made in: Changwon, So. Korea

Engine: 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbo, 137 hp /162 torque

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Weight: 3,069 lbs.

Wheelbase: 106 in.

Length: 178.6 in.

Cargo: 25.6 – 54.1 cu.ft.

MPG: 28/32

MPG: 29.0 (tested)

Base Price: $24,995 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $24,134

Major Options:

Cayenne Orange paint, $395

Sunroof pkg. (power sunroof w/shade, wireless charging), $895

Driver Confidence pkg. (rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert, blind spot alert, adaptive cruise control, rear park assist), $795

Test vehicle: $27,080

Sources: Chevrolet, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
Related Content