Chevy makes Trax its hope for a 2016 impact on emerging SUV segment

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What changes will make it different?

Don’t expect many since this compact SUV has yet to come to the United Sates after being initially designed for the European and Asian markets. The most we might see is a very minor refreshing of the exterior and some changes to the interior. More likely, the vehicle will carry over into the 2016 model year exactly as it is.

Should I wait for the 2016?

It would be a major shock if anything radical happened between the ’15 and 2016 model years, so there is no pressing need to wait.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

The compact crossover segment is one of the most vibrant in the current market, and the Trax is among the very latest to enter the fray. It won’t even be available in the United States until the start of ’15 as a 2015 model year. If you like what you see when the vehicle arrives, you may as well buy one. There won’t be much point in waiting for model year ’16.

Will the styling be different?

It would be a monumental event if Chevy altered the styling of a car only one model year into its life, unless the product turned out to be a complete bomb. While the styling certainly isn’t as cutting edge as some vehicles we’ve seen in this class—or some other Chevys in general—it’s still pleasant enough to remain the same for a couple model years.

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Any mechanical changes?

The Trax is built on a global platform that allows the manufacturer to keep costs down by sharing technology and parts between different models. Consequently, significant mechanical changes would be unlikely at this point.

Will fuel economy improve?

Because the Trax is already on sale in Canada, we know it delivers around 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway using regular-grade gas. Improving on this would require major upgrades such as retuned engines, new transmissions and better aerodynamics. It’s too early in this vehicle’s run for such a major overhaul.

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Will it have new features?

This is the area where we’re most likely to see upgrades in ’16 model year. If the Trax doesn’t sell as well as the manufacturer hopes, we could see new features or more existing options become standard down the range. That said, the car is already bristling with more features than most people would know what to do with anyway.

How will 2016 prices be different?

We expect the vehicle to start at a touch under $20,000 mark. That’s a pretty significant threshold, so there’s almost no chance that Chevy would go above it for some time. There’s always the possibility that a sportier model or a performance model could appear that would allow the automaker to squeeze a little more out of the nameplate, but prices should generally stay stable for at least a year or two.

When will it come out?

Don’t expect to see a ’16 model until at least the end of 2015 or even the start of the next year.

Best competitors

Jeep Renegade, Mini Cooper Clubman, Subaru XV Crosstrek

What change would make it better?

Not only is the Trax a completely new model, but the segment it is entering is also in its infancy. Therefore, it would be quite unfair to level too many criticisms just yet, especially since so few people in the United States have actually driven the vehicle. The styling, however, isn’t exactly revolutionary, so an exterior spin that’s a bit more futuristic wouldn’t be too much to ask.

Quick hit

We have yet to see how this vehicle will be received by U.S. consumers. It could be a big hit, but its less-than inspiring styling already puts it a bit behind the eight ball, especially compared to something like the Jeep Renegade. We wouldn’t be surprised if the first upgrades made to the Trax come in the realm of styling.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]