Chevrolet’s bargain bucket baby SUV is roomy but surprisingly rough and ready

What is it?

The new Chevrolet Trax supermini 4x4, just landed in the UK. And, without beating about the bush too much, it’s coarse and loud and, albeit functional, decidedly ordinary to drive. 

That’s partly because Chevrolet thinks you don’t care. We’ve previously been led to believe that UK tuning of the Trax was on the cards, having found the car dynamically flawed during test drives in both Europe and the USA.

But while the car has been through a tuning program in the UK, Europe and Korea, UK roads and tastes won't be specifically catered for. Selling a model with a UK-specific suspension tune may increase the cost of the car to a point that would be unfavourable for buyers on a budget.

What's it like?

For one, a lot of car for not a lot of cash. This Skoda Yeti rival has large doors, a convenient driving position and a good-sized cabin and boot. The interior’s finish is workmanlike but isn’t without a bit of style, the seats are comfortable, and broadly speaking, the engines produce adequate power and economy.

But ‘adequate’ wouldn’t be the word you’d use to describe the mechanical refinement of our 1.7-litre diesel test car. Vocal at low revs, the motor rose to a harsh thrash at higher speed, where the six-speed auto ‘box, with its short intermediate ratios, took that engine all too often.

And the car doesn’t show very much dynamic quality elsewhere. It rides bad roads in slightly wooden, thumping fashion, and while the Trax handles manageably enough, it only does so via a light and spongey steering system that’s seldom a pleasure to use.

Should I buy one?

Not if you can avoid it. And we can only assume the army of Chevrolet buyers referred to earlier don’t know they could get a near-identical car for only £1500 more in the shape of an equivalent Vauxhall Mokka. Or a much cheaper and more likeable austerity SUV in the Dacia Duster.

Whatever the alternative, the Trax seems a like a good car spoiled by something of a lacklustre execution, which is a shame from a brand that’s been showing progress and growing credibility of late. 

Chevrolet Trax 1.7 VCD LT auto

Price £19,955; 0-62mph 9.4sec; Top speed 113mph; Economy 53.2mpg; CO2 139g/km; Kerb weight 1387kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1686cc, turbodiesel; Power 128bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed automatic

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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BenC30 23 August 2013

GM laughable?

GM are almost at the point of being laughable. Why offer a Trax and a Mokka? Hardly surprising Saab went the wall with this mentality. They appear to have no idea about the European market.

Shrub 23 August 2013

Might be a bucket, not a bargain

I agree with those who don't see this as a bargain. If it is such a weak contender it should start at £12995. Give me a Captur over this.

A34 22 August 2013

So its overpriced rubbish...

... and still gets 2.5 stars in the Autocar rating system? Looks like GCSEs and A levels are not the only things suffering grade inflation...