The fundamentals done right

2016 Chevrolet Trax 1.4 LT

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D3---Trax-520151215Crossovers really are defining the future of automobiles in the Philippines. The combination of the taller ride height, bigger body and more spacious cabin are excellent selling points in this country, and these are the reasons why crossovers tend to do well.

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Making their first entry into the competitive subcompact sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment is Chevrolet with this: the new Trax. Fresh from its launch, we put the new Trax through its paces.

The design isn’t something that I wouldn’t describe as revolutionary; if anything, this Chevy’s look feels a bit safe to me. There’s the signature split grille with the 3D bowtie emblem that dominate the snub nosed fascia. The proportions and side profile are definitely chunkier than its competitors, especially with those bulging wheel arches with 18-inch rims that give a rather wide appearance to the Trax. In the back, there’s not much to report, though it finishes off the look quite cleanly.

Frankly speaking, this new B-segment crossover seems to have a conservative sense of style applied to its body that measures 4,245 millimeters long, 1,765 millimeters wide and 1,670 millimeters tall. The 157- millimetre ground clearance is something that I think could have been increased further, but it’s ample to clear most small obstacles and debris on the road.

The steering wheel, the layout of the buttons on the console, the steering-column mounted gauge pod with the analog tachometer and digital readouts for everything else (i.e. speed), and the abundant use of black, gray and silver are all signatures of Chevrolet. There is also the wide array of compartments and pockets placed all around the cabin; the most useful of which are the recesses on the dash that can hold smartphones or sunglasses. I also particularly like the intuitive Chevrolet MyLink audio system.

The front seats are plush and comfortable; it’s surprising because this is a small vehicle and they’re typically not that comfortable. The back is also quite good; not too upright and with some good padding. The boot is deep for its size though it’s not that wide. I doubt if it can fit a golf set laterally, though you can fold down the seats so you can fit it longitudinally.

Turbocharged engine
A twist of the key fires up the little 1.4-liter engine. Yes, it’s small but it’s turbocharged, and so it makes a rather healthy 140 PS (138 horsepower) and 200 Newton-meters of torque. The gearbox is a six-speed automatic though there’s a manual mode on the transmission stick.

The Chevrolet Trax definitely has some go. The 1364-cubic inch engine is eager to please, especially since the boost kicks in at about the 2,500 revolutions per minute mark. Be a bit too leadfooted with the throttle and you can light up the front tires. There’s a hint of torque steer but that’s expected of a front driver, and there are plenty of systems like traction control, stability control, CBC, EBD, ABS to keep it in check.

The Trax delivers a very good ride as this crossover’s suspension tuning absorbs most of the rough stuff as best it can. Noise suppression also got a significant level of attention, same goes for the gearbox as the shifting of the six-speed auto is also good. The fuel economy was also quite good or 9.1 kilometers per liter in the metro (18 kilometers per hour average) and 14.2 kpl on the highway (92 kph average).

Don’t expect to carve corners as the electric power steering isn’t much for feel, but the Trax can handle itself in the bends. Control in the corners isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s progressive; it doesn’t break away suddenly when you’re nearing the limit and it stays composed.

Overall, the Trax 1.4 LT performed very well during our time as we found that it has got the fundamentals down right. The one that holds this particular variant back, however, is the price. At P1.219 million the Trax LT may not be able to go toe-to-toe with the top-spec EcoSport on the price list, but delete a few features and you can get the LS for significantly less at P998,888.

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