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Making Trax in an island paradise

BALI, Indonesia – Chevrolet gave media the other week the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the new 2017 Trax, its subcompact front-wheel drive crossover/SUV that’s making waves on the global stage. And, speaking of waves, it did so in no less than the beautiful island of Bali.

The new Trax’s fresh, assertive appearance leverages Chevrolet’s new global design language and includes major styling enhancements such as the businesslike and more upscale new front end and the sportily perky rear end. New sleek headlamps that evoke the mean glare of the latest Camaro’s flow around the corners and into the front fenders. A large and low-mounted hexagonal grille further endow the front with a compelling look. The new Trax now sports halogen projector headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lamps as well as LED taillamps and chrome accents along the fog lamp bezels.

The premium styling continues inside, with a fresh new console design, contrasting trim and a sweeping dash architecture centered around the 7-inch color touchscreen six-speaker infotainment system. Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit design is more expressive, with an upper dashboard and console—now boasting soft-feel materials—that flow uninterrupted across the redesigned instrument panel to enhance tactile luxury and the perception of spaciousness.

The well-built cabin is spacious enough, even if the rear seats’ legroom isn’t going to set new records. Headroom and elbowroom are generous front and rear, though. The Trax is sold in tall-people countries like Europe and North America, after all.

The new center instrument panel features a new gauge display with more prominent analog and digital displays of the speedometer and tachometer from the standard driver information center. It also offers greater visibility through the new MyLink color touchscreen. Chrome trim lines the console, adding to the Trax’s premium ambience. 

Numerous state-of-the-art active and passive safety features—heretofore available only in high-end luxury cars—are available in the new Trax. Its six air bags, passive entry/passive start, speed-sensing auto door locks, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Panic Brake Assist, and Parking Assist including a rearview camera are all designed to help drivers prevent potential crash situations. 

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The new Trax supports the latest connectivity technologies, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (where available), Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, as well as voice commands and steering wheel controls.

The new Trax is powered by a smooth and silent 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 140ps and 200Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manumatic function. Power is more than adequate around town, although you need to rev it higher to get more oomph for moderate to high-speed overtaking—a characteristic of many small-displacement turbo engines.

Ride quality is impressively balanced between suppleness and responsiveness. There is also good steering feel from the electric power steering system. Braking, too, is undramatic, offering strong and easy-to-modulate stopping power from any speed.     

Available in two trim levels, LS and LT, the Trax starts at P1,123,888 for the LS and P1,358,888 for the LT. The LT adds 18-inch alloy wheels (the LS has 16’s), auto-on/off headlamps, rear foglamps, cruise control, leather steering wheel, six-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar switch, premium fabric and leatherette combination seats, Chevrolet MyLink multimedia system, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility, performance-enhanced audio power booster, 230V electrical outlet, and passive entry/passive start.

The new Trax comes in seven striking colors: Abalone White, Switchblade Silver Metallic, Black Meet Kettle, Pull Me Over Red, Summit White Solid, Velvet Red Metallic, and, I’m happy to report, the return of the glorious Boracay Blue Metallic.

All things considered, the new Trax has more than it takes to be a major contender in the ever-growing and ever-more-competitive subcompact crossover/SUV class. Expect to see more of it on the road, not just from higher numbers, but also because of its more head-turning design.

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