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car review
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The 2024 Chevrolet Trax.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

Remember the $10,000 new car? It’s barely been 10 years since Nissan Canada rolled back time by importing the Mexican-built Micra, a relic-of-the-1980s/1990s subcompact complete with a five-speed stick shift, ambient-temperature “climate control” (no air conditioning) and a $9,998 base price.

Its arrival forced Mitsubishi and Chevrolet to reduce the prices of the Mirage and Spark to the same four-figure, get-’em-in-the door sticker price.

Today the only subcompact car on the market is the Mirage, and it now starts at $16,998. Other automakers’ entry-level offerings – if they have one – are sub-subcompact crossovers that look like scale-model SUVs, except they don’t have all-wheel drive. And none of them starts at less than $20,000, even before you add freight (which is a lot more than it used to be), taxes and dealer fees.

If you are looking for an affordable car these days, you may want to consider this, the new for 2024, second-generation Chevrolet Trax.

At a starting price of $21,699, it fits the bargain-basement/front-wheel-drive-only format of alternatives like the Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue, but it’s much bigger. In fact, its 4.5-metre length mixes it up with the “big boys” in the subcompact category. It’s about 25 centimetres longer than a Kicks and 50 longer than a Venue, with greater interior space to match.

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The 2024 Chevrolet Trax has a 1.2-litre turbocharged, three-cylinder engine.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

The Trax comes in four additional trims beyond the base LS, ranging up to $28,199. The higher trims add progressively more cosmetic, convenience, comfort and technology features, but no mechanical upgrades: all are powered by the same turbocharged 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine rated at 137 horsepower that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Trax represents a lot of metal for the money, and even the base LS isn’t exactly bare bones. Standard kit includes air conditioning, cruise control, heated front seats, smartphone pairing, backup camera, active noise cancellation and an entry-level set of active assisted-drive technology, such as automatic emergency braking and active lane-keeping assist.

Our test sample was the Activ trim, which shares top-trim billing with the 2RS. Both ask $28,199, but have different exterior cosmetics, including larger wheels on the “sporty” RS, while only the “off-roady” Activ has a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Representing the new reality of entry-level car buying, the Trax is bigger and more refined than the subcompact hatchbacks that formerly filled that role. Yet it preserves their cheap-and-cheerful charm. It doesn’t go fast but it feels willing to do its best, with minimal turbo lag and a characterful thrum under the hood. Its ride is always somewhat restless, even at its best, but doesn’t deteriorate when the road surface is at its worst. And for engaged drivers who care, it steers and corners more like a competent car than a top-heavy crossover.

It isn’t available with all-wheel drive, but even so, the Trax is a strong value. While most like-sized crossovers do offer AWD, even their front-wheel-drive base models are significantly more expensive than Chevrolet’s cheery new-normal take on affordable automobility.

Tech specs

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The 2024 Chevrolet Trax is only available in front-wheel drive.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

2024 Chevrolet Trax
  • Base price/as tested: $21,699/$29,789 (Activ trim), plus $2,000 for freight, plus tax and other fees
  • Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder
  • Transmission/drive: Six-speed automatic/front-wheel drive
  • Fuel consumption (litres per 100 kilometres): 8.3 city/7.4 highway
  • Alternatives: Buick Envista, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Venue, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Mitsubishi RVR, Nissan Kicks, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota Corolla Cross, Volkswagen Taos


Besides being longer and a bit wider than most rivals, the Trax is built notably lower, which gives it a good stance and proportions that trend more toward station wagon than crossover. That’s a good thing.


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Yellow accents and faux-leather synthetic Evotex seats are specific to the Activ trim.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

The Trax has a lot of interior room. Its passenger volume is nearly best in class, with especially generous rear-seat legroom. Our Activ trim also provided a car-like driving position with generous eight-way power-seat adjustability (other trims get six-way manual), decent sightlines and an 11-inch touch screen (lower trims get an eight-incher).

The screen doesn’t have many features – navigation, for example, is not available – but on the plus side, you get physical buttons for climate control. The higher trims also have a configurable eight-inch digital gauge cluster, though some might prefer the lower trims’ no-nonsense analogue dials. The dashboard looks upscale, though keeping a traditional centre-console shift lever doesn’t leave much room to stash stuff.


With only 137 horsepower, the Trax clearly ranks at the slow end of the performance spectrum – it takes just over nine seconds to hit 100 kilometres an hour. In routine driving, however, it is torque that does the work, and the Trax’s 162 lb-ft at 2,500 revolutions per minute supplies adequate thrust without undue effort. It doesn’t obviously sound like a three cylinder, and is more than acceptably smooth for an econobox. The transmission’s ratio count is on the low side by today’s standards, but at least it’s not a CVT, and on the highway its relaxed stride (2,400 revolutions per minute at 120 kilometres an hour, for example) sounds even more chill than that, because a three-cylinder engine has 25-per-cent fewer “bangs” per revolution than a four.


Standard infotainment and connectivity assets include a Wi-Fi hot spot, SiriusXM, GM OnStar, wireless smartphone pairing and both USB-A- and USB-C ports. Available assisted-drive features, beyond the standard items already listed, include lane-change alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise and rear cross-traffic alert.


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The cargo area is roomy and functional with more space below the deck where the space-saver spare resides.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

Whether seats-up or seats-folded, the cargo volumes (724 and 1,531 litres respectively) are above average for the segment. Unlike some rivals, the Trax doesn’t offer a two-position cargo deck, but the deck transitions smoothly to the folded seatbacks and there is useful (albeit unfinished) hidden space below it.

The verdict

Roomy, practical and pleasant to drive, the Trax is the new-normal version of a great-value vehicle.

Editor’s note: In an earlier version, the base price for the vehicle didn't include the $2,000 cost of freight. In addition to freight, buyers would also have to pay a dealer fee, an air conditioning charge and other fees depending on the province.

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