How Much Truck is a Chevy Trax? A Road Test

Posted on 06 February 2014 by Tony Santos

Chevy Trax

For some, the idea of driving a pickup truck or simply a truck, even a small one, is intimidating. So to see how much truck there is in a mini-SUV, I took a Chevy Trax out for a spin.

The Trax has an appealing look, sort of like a tall car or a miniaturized SUV. Stepping inside, the feeling is truck. You climb up — rather than slide down — to get into the driver’s seat; and, once there, take an upright position with an elevated view of the road. Already one of my favorite features is the convex shape of the side mirrors, which do a great job reducing the blind spot. Looking ahead reveals the car-like nature of the Trax, with its efficiently designed dash and family-car ergonomics.

Driving the Trax under good conditions is pure car. It’s small and nimble, able to zip in and out of the worst of downtown Toronto’s traffic. The Trax comes with a 1.4-litre double overhead cam turbo four with variable valve timing. All that technology gives the Trax more thrust on command than you might expect, and moves the lightweight with authority. The one I’m driving has an optional six-speed automatic, which works fine, but I’d like to try the manual, just for fun.

The Trax is fine on open roads, with its tall overdrive sixth gear meaning the engine barely breaks a sweat at 100 km/h. Passing is easy, even on the 400 where massive tractor-trailers tend to congregate in speeding packs.

It’s in the twisties where the Trax’s stiffened body, four-wheel disc brakes and independent suspension allow it to carve up roads with aplomb. It’s a pretty enjoyable vehicle to drive, and under good conditions, the Trax is all car, although the higher seating position and all-wheel-drive traction sometimes hint at truck.

But it’s when the conditions get bad that the Trax shows its truck nature. I live at the top of a steep hill that has a 90-degree turn at the top. It’s challenging for some drivers, and when it snows, it’s not unusual to see two or three cars sliding back down the hill, helpless and sometimes sideways. But the Trax has no problem with the hill after a fresh deep snow; it goes exactly here where I point it and soldiers up with confidence. I also appreciate the higher-than-normal ground clearance, which helps it through the deep snow that many cars dare not enter.

So, while I appreciate the Trax’s car attributes under good conditions, I can understand the value of its truck abilities when things get a bit sloppier. Of course, those same truck capabilities would be even more valuable to me if I lived or worked in a place that had dirt or gravel roads, especially if they weren’t heavily traveled or plowed frequently.

If I had to describe it in a sentence, I’d say that the Trax feels like a car, but it can bring its inner truckness out when necessary. To me, that’s more reassuring than intimidating.

Jerry Langton is the author of four national bestsellers. He has also written for some of the best-known publications in North America. His work has appeared in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, National Post, The Hamilton Spectator, Maclean’s, CBC.ca, The Daily News, The Star-Ledger, Yahoo!, MSN.ca and dozens of others.

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