Small footprint, small price. The 2020 Chevrolet Trax is the brand’s bite-size crossover, here to win over the hearts of urban drivers who still want a utility vehicle. It fits that mission reasonably well.

A taller ride height gives a better view of the road, but the short wheelbase lets the Trax fight into tight spaces. This same wheelbase makes it less stable on the highways, but the same is true of many smaller vehicles.

One of the Trax’s strongest assets is its equally diminutive price. A base model starts just past $22,000, which is approachable for a crossover. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 addition, which means that the Trax checks in under $24,000 even with all-weather capability.

Tall, but short on power. The Trax’s tall profile gives it a few advantages in the practicality department. Some drivers will appreciate the taller entry height, and more will enjoy the 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats.

That’s good for the class, although it still can’t quite match the capacities of the Kia Soul or Nissan Kicks. Fold the Trax’s seats, and capacity expands to 48.4 cubic feet.

Utility ends with the powertrain, however. All Trax models are powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine making an anemic 138 horsepower. It’s just enough for around-town driving, but it’s not helped by an outdated six-speed automatic transmission.

The lack of power would be more forgivable if the Trax were an efficiency star, but it isn’t. The EPA-estimated figure of 28 miles per gallon combined is decent, but it’s bested by the Kia Soul, Toyota C-HR, and Mazda CX-3.

Chevy Trax

Short on tech, too. Souring the picture further is the Trax’s lack of safety tech. Blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning are available, but automatic emergency braking isn't available.

As this tech becomes increasingly common, omitting it looks like more of an error, especially for safety-oriented crossover buyers. Competitors like the Nissan Kicks and Mazda CX-3 do come with automatic emergency braking.

Searching for value. With a sparsely equipped base model, the Trax makes its value proposition a difficult matter. Getting alloy wheels, cruise control, and nicer interior materials requires stepping up to at least the LT trim, a $1,900 bump.

Even that feels basic, but the top Premier trim pushes close to $30,000. For that money, larger cars will come with many of the same features (synthetic upholstery, a sunroof) included.

This means that the Trax’s best value is likely in the base LS trim, which limits its appeal somewhat. For value-minded urban buyers, the Trax may be worth a look. But with rivals like the Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Kicks starting even cheaper, the Chevy may be outmaneuvered even on price.

Final thoughts. The 2020 Chevy Trax isn’t all bad, but it’s also not the easiest vehicle to like. The base trim is plain, but upper trims get expensive. It’s down on power without superlative efficiency, and it’s behind the times on available safety gear.

Even worse, the competition in this class is getting fiercer. With polished rivals on the market, the Trax is hard to wholeheartedly recommend.

Check prices for the 2020 Chevy Trax»