2020 Chevrolet Trax

2020 Chevrolet Trax Review: Puts The 'Budget' Into Budget Crossover

by Morgan Carter

The Chevrolet Trax is one of a plethora of subcompact crossovers in an oversaturated market, unfortunately doing little to truly stand out for anything other than having a fairly affordable price tag. With strong rivals in the form of the Honda HR-V and the Trax's corporate sibling, the Buick Encore, a budget price tag might not be enough, though. While touchscreen navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot seem like impressive value at this end of the spectrum, middling gas mileage from a relatively dismal 1.4-liter turbo engine and interior materials that look and feel cheap let the Chevrolet subcompact down in a big way. Considering this same segment is occupied by favorites like the Kia Soul and Hyundai Kona, the Trax might well be relegated to the status of rental-car king, and not for the right reasons.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Trax?

The Chevy Trax remains mechanically unchanged for the new year, but its aesthetic options have seen a few alterations. The Midnight Edition Package is no longer offered, and Storm Blue Metallic, Sandy Ridge Metallic, and Dark Copper Metallic have been deleted from the color palette. However, the infotainment system has been slightly updated to remain modern.

Pros and Cons

  • Spacious cabin for size
  • Modern infotainment suite
  • Excellent visibility
  • Optional all-wheel drive
  • Low starting price
  • Weak engine
  • Poor ride quality
  • Limited cargo capacity

2020 Chevrolet Trax Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LS
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$21,300
LT
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$23,200
Premier
1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,600

Trax Exterior

The Chevy subcompact doesn't do a good job of standing out from the crowd. While five years shouldn't be enough to make a car look aged, the Trax hasn't done much to keep up with more modern rivals. The standard model rides on 16-inch alloys, with the Premier getting 18-inch wheels. The upper grille is thin and hosts the Chevrolet bowtie. A larger grille takes up most of the front bumper. Halogen headlights wrap around the hood with available fog lights embedded in the bumper. LED taillights and LED daytime running lights adorn the LT and Premier, along with deep-tinted glass and roof-mounted side rails. A power sunroof comes standard on the Premier, too.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Front View Driving Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Front View Driving 1 Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Rear View Driving Chevrolet
See All 2020 Chevrolet Trax Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Trax easily slips into the subcompact category with its small footprint. It stands only 167.2 inches long, with a 100.6-inch wheelbase. It is on the slim side too, with a width of 69.9 inches allowing it to fit into even smaller parking spaces. The 64.9-inch height offers a pretty commanding driving position, but the ground clearance of 6.2 inches means the SUV shouldn't be taken off-road without consideration. It's a bit heavier than its competition, though, starting at 3,124 lbs and maxing out at 3,344 lbs. The Honda HR-V is quite a bit lighter, with a starting weight of just 2,906 lbs.

  • Length 167.2 in
  • Wheelbase 100.6 in
  • Height 64.9 in
  • Max Width 69.9 in
  • Front Width 60.6 in
  • Rear Width 60.6 in

Exterior Colors

A palette of 10 colors is available to Chevrolet's subcompact, with the majority available to every trim level. Summit White is the standard solid color, while the metallics comprise Silver Ice, Satin Steel, Nightfall Gray, and Mosaic Black. Also available to LS, but at an additional cost determined by the dealer, are Red Hot, Black Cherry Metallic, and Stone Gray Metallic. The LT and Premier can choose an extra no-cost color, Pacific Blue Metallic, or the $395 premium Cajun Red Tintcoat.

Trax Performance

The affordable Chevy was not designed for high performance, with the four-cylinder engine developing a measly 138 hp and 148 lb-ft despite being turbocharged. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available across the range. Regardless of the setup, the Trax can never be called quick, with a 0-60 mph time of close to ten seconds. It has a decent low-end punch, though, so it can get up to 20-30 mph relatively quickly before running out of breath.

The subcompact is not rated for towing by the manufacturer, but if you insist on trying, some dealers claim that it can handle in the area of 1,500 lbs. Still, we suggest you stick to lower payloads if you don't want to strain the already underwhelming powertrain.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Front View Driving 2 Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Rear View Driving 1 Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Wheel Chevrolet

Engine and Transmission

A single engine is available to the range of Trax SUVs, and it's not a very impressive one at that. The 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine delivers a modest 138 hp and 148 lb-ft to the front wheels, although you can opt for all-wheel-drive without restriction among the trims. Handling the gear shifts is a six-speed automatic transmission.

The powertrain will get you around town, but not quickly. Passing on the highway will require a great deal of effort, and the engine will let you know how unhappy it is about being pushed so hard. The transmission is decent, shifting smoothly and with generally good manners, but it sometimes gets stuck when you need a lower gear, and while it's nothing terrible, it's nothing special, either. Nothing about the Chevy's mechanics stand out, with rivals offering more powerful engine options and all-wheel-drive being readily available in the segment. We'd steer clear of the latter though, as the added weight and mechanical drag negatively impact the already lackluster powertrain.

  • Engine
    1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Chevrolet Trax is a great driver around town. Its small size combines with precise steering to help it maneuver around congested streets and packed parking lots with ease. But, while it is light and responsive, the steering is far from communicative.

It handles quite well for a taller car, not leaning too much into corners, but you shouldn't be taking them at any real degree of speed anyway. However, the short wheelbase and relative height do negatively impact stability at higher speeds on the highway. The ride quality is also pretty poor, with even smaller bumps traveling through the cabin. It's strange, as the cabin insulation is impressive, and the Buick Encore tends to be far better mannered on similar surfaces.

Trax Gas Mileage

The Chevy Trax is by no means a thirsty vehicle, but it's not quite as economical as some of its popular competitors. Equipped with the standard front-wheel drivetrain, the SUV can get up to 26/31/28 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. Switching to the all-wheel drivetrain shaves off a bit of efficiency, lowering these figures to 24/29/26 mpg. By comparison, the FWD Mazda CX-3 gets 29/34/31 mpg and the highly-rated Honda HR-V manages 28/34/30 mpg with FWD. Even so, the Trax relies on cheaper regular gasoline, and it can cover up to 392 miles with its 14-gallon fuel tank.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 26/31 mpg
* 2020 Chevrolet Trax LS FWD

Trax Interior

The interior of the Trax is mostly on par with its more budget-friendly subcompact rivals. The materials are adequate, but far from upscale, and the styling leaves much to be desired. The upper trims look a bit better, but the Chevy never shakes its economy feel. There aren't all that many features, even at the upper levels, so the controls are easy to reach. The Chevrolet Infotainment 3 suite takes up most of the dash and the interface is user-friendly. Passenger space is adequate but not impressive, and the trunk follows the same trend. It's a middling effort that lacks the finesse of the Buick Encore, which lacking the space and design flair offered by Asian rivals.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Infotainment System Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Gear Shifter Chevrolet
See All 2020 Chevrolet Trax Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The subcompact measures a mere 167.2 inches long, meaning there isn't much space inside the cabin. Still, the Trax manages to provide space to seat four adults, or a total of five passengers if you mix in some kids. Headroom all-round is pretty decent, with impressive legroom up front. The rear seats are a bit too cramped for larger adults, especially over long drives, with plenty of knee-rubbing against the front seats. The SUV stands taller than a normal car, and offers a pretty commanding driving position, with excellent outward visibility. However, the standard four-way manual driver-seat adjustment, and even the available six-way power-adjustment, mean that finding an ideal driving position can be tricky. Ingress and egress are simple, with large, tall door apertures and good seat placement.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.8 in
  • Front Head Room 39.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.8 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The Trax manages to maintain its affordability by cutting corners when it comes to materials and construction. Basic cloth upholstery is the standard on the entry-level LT, available in either Jet Black or Jet Black/Light Ash Gray. The LT gets upgraded deluxe cloth and adds Jet Black/Brandy to the color choices. It also gets a bright-finished, but cheap feeling, interior trim. A combination deluxe cloth/leatherette upholstery is available to the LT for $450, while full leatherette upholstery comes standard on the top-tier Premier. No further color options are provided, but contrast stitching gives the interior a more refined look. The cabin's construction shows the manufacturer's focus on cost-effectiveness, but it feels solidly screwed together and should stand the test of time.

Trax Trunk and Cargo Space

The Trax isn't the worst of the lot when it comes to cargo space in the subcompact crossover class, but it's far from being among the pack leaders. With the rear seats in place, it supplies only 18.7 cubic feet, enough for most errands around town, but not enough for heavy lifting. The rear seats can be lowered in a 60/40 split, although doing so isn't as easy as it should be. This frees up a total of 48.4 cubic feet, which helps the SUV fit a few larger suitcases. The Mazda CX-3 isn't quite as capable with only 12.4 - 44.5 cubic feet of cargo space, but the Honda HR-V can haul way more with 23.2 - 58.8 cubic feet.

There is a fair amount of small-item storage for a vehicle of this size, with an impressive four cupholders provided within the front armrest, while the rear armrest offers two. There is a passenger-side glove compartment and a small bin underneath the controls on the dashboard. The door pockets are pretty small, unfortunately.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Trunk Space Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Rear Passenger Seats Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Trax Top View Chevrolet

Trax Infotainment and Features

Features

The list of standard features on the Trax is pretty short, with only a few extras added as you upgrade through the trim levels. This is a testament to the vehicle's focus on keeping things simple and cheap. The base LT gets cloth upholstery and a four-way manual driver's seat, along with a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering column. Remote entry and a 12-volt power outlet are the only real conveniences, while single-zone manual climate control with rear air vents is a standard contribution to passenger comfort. A 3.5-inch driver information display keeps the driver appraised of the vehicle's condition, while a rearview camera comprises the entire standard safety suite. The LT adds cruise control and some cargo features such as shelves and under-seat storage. It also adds remote engine start and upgrades the upholstery. The top-tier Premier gets the best leatherette upholstery and upgrades the driver's seat with six-way power-adjustability. It improves safety quite a bit, though, with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert.

Infotainment

The Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system is pretty simple, but it's still comprehensive and remains easy to use, even when on the move. The seven-inch touchscreen interface takes up most of the small dashboard, and grants access to the built-in Bluetooth capabilities, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Dual USB ports are offered to charge smart devices, while an auxiliary audio input jack lets you connect your iPod or other music players. All audio is channeled through the standard six-speaker sound system. SiriusXM is added to the suite when you upgraded to the LT, while the Premier upgrades to a seven-speaker Bose premium sound system.

Trax Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power rates the Chevrolet Trax at 80 out of 100 for dependability, which is about average for the segment. A fair number of complaints have been recorded for the 2019 version of the SUV, and two recalls were issued for that model year pertaining to the lower control arm potentially separating from the vehicle, and an issue with the airbags, which could possibly not deploy correctly. At the time of writing, however, the 2020 model is recall-free.

The manufacturer offers a 36,000-mile/36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty, as well as a powertrain warranty and roadside assistance for 60,000 miles/60 months.

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2020 Warranty Note \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Trax Safety

The Chevy has a high safety rating, with the NHTSA awarding it an overall score of five stars. The IIHS gives the crossover a rating of Good in five out of six crash-tests with only the small front overlap on the passenger side receiving a lower score of Acceptable. Frontal collision avoidance, however, was not evaluated.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The lower trim levels come standard with only the most basic of safety features, such as ABS, stability control, and traction control, but they do get ten airbags: dual front, front knee, front side, rear side, and side curtain. More advanced safety features are only added on the top trim or as part of available packages. These include fog lights, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Chevrolet Trax a good SUV?

With sedans and hatchbacks losing popularity as SUVs dominate the market, staying relevant in these increasingly competitive segments takes quite a lot of innovation. Sadly, the Chevrolet Trax hasn't put in the work over the last five years of its life.

It does supply a fair amount of cargo and passenger space for a pretty low starting price. However, leading rivals are just as affordable, and pack leaders like the Honda HR-V and Kia Soul are more spacious in both regards. They also offer more standard features, as the Trax comes with no standard advanced safety features and minimal comforts. To get anything better, you have to opt for the top trim or throw on so many packages that price climbs well above what the competition is asking.

While the Chevy is great around town thanks to its tiny footprint, it doesn't handle as well as more refined subcompacts. It also doesn't offer particularly impressive fuel economy when compared to rivals and the engine performs woefully. Overall, the Chevrolet Trax is reasonable value for money, but there are far better deals out there for similar, or even less, money. Our picks are the Kia Soul for more practicality and the Hyundai Kona if you enjoy driving.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Chevrolet Trax?

The subcompact crossover has an appealing starting price of just $21,300 for the entry-level LS trim. Moving up to the mid-tier LT will cost you $23,200, but it is highly customizable and could end up costing you close to as much as the top-tier model. Getting behind the wheel of the Premier model will set you back $27,600. All-wheel-drive is available to every model, at a surcharge of $1,500. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Chevrolet's $995 destination fee.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Models

For 2020, the Chevrolet Trax is presented to buyers in three distinct trim levels: LS, LT, and Premier. A single engine powers the entire range: a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four-cylinder that develops 138 hp and 148 lb-ft. This is directed via a six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels, with all-wheel-drive available.

The LS starts things off with 16-inch alloy wheels and halogen headlights. The cabin is upholstered in cloth, with manual single-zone climate control, rear air vents, a four-way manual driver's seat, and a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering column. Remote entry is standard, along with a 12-volt power outlet, dual USB ports, and a 3.5-inch driver information display. The infotainment is centered around a seven-inch touchscreen that supports Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Music is played back through a six-speaker sound system, and an auxiliary audio jack is provided.

A step up from the base model, the LT upgrades the taillights to LEDs and sees the installation of roof-mounted side rails. The standard cloth is replaced with deluxe cloth, the trunk gets a cargo shelf, and under-seat storage is provided below the front passenger seat. Cruise control and remote engine start are added, while SiriusXM is added to the infotainment.

The top-of-the-range Premier rides on larger 18-inch alloys and equips fog lights. Leatherette upholsters the interior and the driver's seat gets six-way power adjustment. Keyless entry and ignition are added, along with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Advanced safety features are finally added, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, and rear park assist.

See All 2020 Chevrolet Trax Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The Trax focuses on affordability above all else, with the base and top-tier models little to no customization options. Still, there are a few packages available to the mid-tier LT. The LT Convenience Package ($450) is the foundation of all the upgrades and needs to be installed before any other packages can be optioned. These fundamental changes include keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, deluxe cloth/leatherette upholstery, and a six-way power driver's seat with lumbar. The Driver Confidence Package ($495) adds the available advanced safety features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist. The Sun and Sound Package ($1,400) installs a power sunroof and an upgraded seven-speaker bose sound system. The Redline Edition ($1,350) gives the exterior a makeover, upgrading to 18-inch alloy wheels, and added black accents to just about everything, including the grille, mirror caps, and Chevy bow-tie. The wheels and Trax badge are each accented in black with a red outline.

🚗What Chevrolet Trax Model Should I Buy?

Affordability is the name of the game when it comes to the Chevrolet Trax, otherwise, you may as well be looking at one of its better, higher-priced rivals. As such, aiming above the LT trim would defeat the point of the purchase. It gets more comfortable deluxe cloth upholstery and some nifty cargo accessories to help the crossover compete with more functional rivals. Sadly, if you want the advanced safety features and power-adjustable driver's seat, you will need to tack on a few packages. This can quickly increase the cost of the subcompact, but you can still get a decent version before you start closing in on the price of the Premier.

2020 Chevrolet Trax Comparisons

Buick Encore Buick
Chevrolet Equinox Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Chevrolet Trax138 hp26/31 mpg$21,300
Buick Encore 138 hp25/30 mpg$23,200
Chevrolet Equinox 170 hp26/31 mpg$23,800

2020 Chevrolet Trax vs Buick Encore

The Buick Encore shares a platform with the Chevy Trax, so its dimensions are basically identical. Thus, cargo and passenger capacity are on par, and it even gets the same turbo four-cylinder engine. Given these similarities, you'd expect the Buick to cost the same as the Trax, but it will actually set you back an extra $4k. This is because the Buick is more upscale, with a higher-quality interior and more refined standard features, such as a larger infotainment screen with standard SiriusXM, as well as a power-adjustable driver's seat and cruise control. However, it doesn't get any better standard safety features over the Chevy, so it won't appeal to buyers who prioritize safety. Much like the Trax, the Encore can add these features at additional cost. But, with its higher starting price, this will quickly raise the cost well above what those on a budget can afford. Overall, the Buick Encore is the better pick here, but your budget will determine your options.

See Buick Encore Review

2020 Chevrolet Trax vs Chevrolet Equinox

One step above the Trax in terms of size, the Equinox is a small upgrade in every way. It also gets a turbocharged inline-four-cylinder-engine, but it develops 170 hp and 203 lb-ft, making the compact crossover quite a bit more energetic. It is officially rated to tow up to 3,500 lbs and has a much higher basic cargo capacity of 29.9 cubic feet, which can be increased to 63.9 when the rear seats are folded down. However, the Equinox does cost almost $3k more in its base form, but you get some more features for this investment. It comes standard with forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, cruise control, and LED daytime running lights. The Chevy Equinox is better than the Trax in every way, but it won't be as appealing for those on a tight budget.

See Chevrolet Equinox Review

Chevrolet Trax Popular Comparisons

2020 Chevrolet Trax Video Review

$21,300 - $29,100
Price Range (MSRP)
Chevrolet Trax
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