Not great, with poor handling and too much noise
Good view forward, and dashboard is easy to use
Well equipped, and likely to get good Euro NCAP rating
Feels solid enough but poor result in owner survey
Roomy cabin and decent boot, though not the biggest
Even the lower-trim cars come packed with kit
The beefy Chevrolet Trax may look like it means business, but it falls some way short of such expectations. The problem isn't simply that none of its engines is particularly quick (though the 1.7 diesel is quite good if you rev it a bit, and the 1.4 turbocharged petrol is lively and willing from quite low revs). The bigger issues are the fact the steering feels rather disconnected from the wheels, and that the ride is so firm - even minor imperfections in the road can be felt in the cabin at low speeds, while the car really thumps over bigger bumps. On the plus side, this firmness also keeps the Trax's body movements in check on bends (which is good news for those with motion sickness) although it doesn't prevent a floaty feel over dips and crests at higher speeds (which isn't). At least the Trax's steering feels more reassuring at higher speeds than the almost identical Vauxhall Mokka's, which feels nervous by comparison. Meanwhile, the diesel is noisy, and though the 1.4 petrol is quieter, it gets boomy when you pick up the pace, while the big door mirrors create far too much wind noise and road noise is a constant presence. We haven't yet driven the entry-level petrol, the 1.6. The 1.4 and the diesel are both available with an on-demand four-wheel-drive system.
The cabin looks smart and solid, though it doesn't have the premium feel of some rivals. The high driving position gives a great view head but rear visibility isn't as good due to the car's large rear pillars. The MyLink touchscreen that comes with the higher trim and operates the infotainment system reduces the number of buttons, though these are well organised on the lower-trim car. The cabin offers plenty of room for four six-foot adults, but a third rear passenger will struggle to fit comfortably. The boot's a fairly good size, too (not as big as a Nissan Qashqai's or a Skoda Yeti's but bigger than a Nissan Juke's) and with no load lip to heave stuff over, while the rear seats fold totally flat once you flip up their bases, so it's very practical if you need to carry bigger items. There are just two trim levels. The lower one, LS, is available only with the entry-level, 1.6 petrol engine and comes with cruise control, air-con, Bluetooth, USB and aux inputs, alloy wheels and automatic headlights. The other engines come as LT trim cars, which adds the MyLink infotainement system, a rear parking camera, four electric windows and bigger alloys.
The Trax's cabin feels solid enough but Chevrolet is a poor performer in the JD Power owner survey, coming rock bottom in the 2013 poll; that said, the brand finished in the top 10 of What Car?'s 2012 Reliability Survey, with the lowest average repair cost. Safety provision includes stability control and six airbags for all models, and while the Trax hasn't yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP, the almost-identical Vauxhall Mokka scored five stars including an impressive 96% for adults and 90% for children, so hopes are the Chevrolet will do the same.
The Trax's most compelling feature is probably its price: it's £500 cheaper than the almost identical Vauxhall Mokka, and there should be discounts available on its prices, too. It's fairly to cheap to insure but its fuel consumption and emissions aren't as good as the class leaders, and it's unlikely to hold onto its value that well. However, given its price, it's worth considering if you're striken by its chunky looks and want decent practicality in a relatively small package.