Following a mild update last year, the 2018 Chevrolet Trax, available in three trim levels, boasts a roomy interior, hatchback versatility, and available all-wheel drive across the lineup. But mundane styling, lackluster performance, mediocre fuel economy, and the lack of advanced safety features on all but the most expensive model keep it from being a top pick in the small crossover class.

Best Value

Pricing for the 2018 Chevrolet Trax starts at $21,895 for a front-wheel-drive model in LS trim and tops out at $31,940 for an all-wheel-drive Premier model finished in available Orange Burst Metallic equipped with the optional Driver Confidence II Package (forward collision warning, lane departure warning), Power Sliding Sunroof, and 18-inch Midnight Silver alloy wheels. Power windows and locks, a rearview camera, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto capability are standard on all trim levels.

With a single drivetrain choice, we'd skip the bare-bones LS, as well as the FWD Premier model with a base price of nearly $2,500 more than a FWD Chevrolet Equinox LS, which leaves the LT. LT upgrades include remote start, projector headlights, LED taillights, 16-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio, roof side rails, cruise control, deep tinted glass, and power mirrors. Here's what it looks like:

  • Model: 2018 Chevrolet Trax LT
  • Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 138 hp / 148 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 22 City / 28 Hwy
  • Options: LT Convenience Package ($450, two spare keys, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth- and leatherette-trimmed seats, a power driver's seat, keyless push-button start, body-color door handles), Driver Confidence Package ($495, rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring).
  • Base Price: $23,895 (including a $995 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$24,840

Performance

Chevrolet Trax

The Trax features a comfortable, controlled ride and responsive steering. For added measure, the transmission's widely-spaced gearing results in a tall sixth gear for composed and fuel-efficient highway cruising.

With only 138 horsepower on tap, the 1.6-liter turbo struggles to get up to highway speeds quickly, so passing on freeways requires careful planning. An EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon in the city, 33 on the highway, and 28 combined is only mid-pack for the class.

Style

Wrapped in conservative sheetmetal, the equally restrained interior delivers on space in spades – with cup holders, bins, and storage cubbies galore, as well as room in back for two adults. Fit and finish is very good, the front seats are sufficiently long for taller drivers, and cabin noise is fairly subdued during highway cruising.

Things are hardly perfect, however, as harsh engine sounds enter the cabin under hard acceleration. Black plastic interior surfaces are the rule, while the Trax's lack of exterior design flair stands in sharp contrast to competitors like the Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3.

The Best and Worst Things

Unlike many of its competitors, the Trax's subcompact exterior belies a spacious interior where four adults can travel in relative comfort.

With no manual transmission option and just 138 hp on tap, the Trax struggles in anything more than around-town driving – including merging onto expressways and passing at highway speeds.

Right For? Wrong For?

Chevrolet Trax

Reasonable pricing for both the LS and LT, along with a spacious, versatile interior, make the Trax a good choice for value-oriented buyers.

Frustratingly poor acceleration times – even compared to other vehicles in its class - will have enthusiasts scurrying for competitor's showrooms.

The Bottom Line

Despite a roomy interior and available all-wheel drive for less than $24,000, the 2018 Chevy Trax is kept from being a top contender in the small crossover class due to its generic styling, poor acceleration, and lack of advanced safety features on most trims.