We road-tested a 2018 Chevrolet Trax through storms, sun and even frost.
The Chevy Trax served us well from Atlanta, Georgia to Covington, Kentucky to Shenandoah County, Virginia and back again, from highways to gravel roads, city streets to mountain switchbacks.
By Hope S. Philbrick
When I agreed to test-drive a 2018 Chevrolet Trax, I anticipated that this story would be a follow-up to my previous post about the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. I very much enjoyed that vehicle, but I personally found all the tech a bit overwhelming: I was never able to figure out how to get my smartphone to work as the car’s command center—I felt like I needed more time, since my own car is a tin can by comparison so the learning curve seemed intimidatingly steep.
The friendly guy who handed me the keys to the Chevy Trax spent some time showing me how to connect my Android to the car using the Android Auto app. We got it to work, though he admitted that he’d been having some trouble with the cable connections to his iPhone. Once I hit the road and my trip progressed, I started having similar issues (which I’m confident were repaired as soon as I returned the keys). But I can honestly report that I do indeed know how to make that tech work now and it’s fabulous—you can use Google Maps, Waze or whatever mapping program you prefer on your phone and the route conveniently appears on the car’s screen for easy, up-to-date, on-the-road navigation.
But the story about this Chevy Trax proved to be about something other than the mapping options—the actual story isn’t always the one that’s planned.
The day that I was driving back to Atlanta, Georgia after my meeting in Covington, Kentucky just so happened to be the day that Hurricane Michael reached land. Most of that drive was uneventful, though fun: I stopped at the Costco in Lexington, Kentucky for gas and loaded up the trunk with all sorts of goodies not available at my usual Costco location; I enjoyed discovering new channels on SiriusXM (the car’s Bose audio system is impressive); adjusting the driver’s seat until I found the perfect positioning; gaining confidence in the car’s safety features (there are various alerts that light up and/or beep). Rain started falling when I reached Chattanooga, Tennessee. I flipped on the wipers.
By the time I reached Cartersville, Georgia, the driving conditions were beyond what I’d ever witnessed: The rain was gushing more than falling, drenching the highway so fast that rivers flowed across any low points on the surface. Walls of water hit the windshield every time a semi-truck whizzed by (why don’t they ever slow down?) The Trax was unfazed, never once veered unexpectedly or hydroplaned. I felt safe in the car, but it was pitch-black night by this point and I wasn’t confident about other drivers’ vehicles or skills. So, I pulled off the highway, went into a hotel and asked if I could get a room. “We’re all booked!” the guy behind the reception desk said. “The weather is so bad we’re all booked in Cartersville—I just called around to other hotels to check for the person who stopped in just ahead of you.”
Cartersville is about an hour from my house, so I figured I could make it home, but I didn’t want to get back on the highway. I wanted to drive slow so I could avoid any obstacles that made a sudden appearance. I called OnStar.
Me: Can you give me driving directions that don’t include the highway?
OnStar: Of course!
Within seconds turn-by-turn directions appeared on my dash screen. I made it home safe and sound. I feel like the Chevy Trax and OnStar deserve all the credit for that.
Two days later I left for Shenandoah County, Virginia, a scenic place to drive. I was doing research for a series of travel stories, so I drove all over the county, from Route 11 Potato Chips to the mountain switchbacks near Woodstock Tower, from the historic Meems Bottom Covered Bridge to the Cave Ridge Winery, from the Holliday House B&B in Woodstock to the remote Slate Hill School House rental property in Fort Valley (the “valley within the valley”), through the mural-decorated town of Strasburg and beyond.
The Chevy Trax handled all road conditions with ease, from the gravel switchbacks (which were easy to navigate in the Trax plus the seat feels high enough to really see—I’m quite sure in my own tin can of a car the same drive would have been dicey) to the muddy roads around the pastures at Fort Valley Ranch (a great place to go horseback riding) to the steep gravel road that leads away from the Slate Hill School House even when covered with a thick layer of morning frost.
In my personal vehicle, I don’t have OnStar. On my first test-drive that offered OnStar I hesitated to use it—it seemed like interrupting someone when I could just not be lazy and use my phone. But I have grown to love OnStar. Since I’m usually traveling far distances alone, having OnStar available feels like a genuine safety asset. And I’ve found that there are certainly times when I can’t use a smartphone, such as when driving (in Georgia it’s illegal to handle a phone while behind the wheel), when I can’t get signal, when my needs aren’t exactly a Google search topic.
One night driving back to my rental house from a restaurant, the unfamiliar mountain roads all looked the same, so I got lost. I wasn’t able to get a signal with my phone. What’s more, the rental house doesn’t list an address or even a phone number on its website (why? I don’t know). I called OnStar (after driving around a bit to find a spot on top of the mountain where I could get signal—this location is very remote!).
Me: I’m hopelessly lost.
OnStar: We’ll get you there!
Me: I can spend the night in the car if I have to.
OnStar: Oh, you won’t need to do that!
A friendly voice can really boost your confidence at such desperate times.
The OnStar advisor looked up the latitude and longitude for the house and sent turn-by-turn directions to the car. As it turned out, that first effort wasn’t quite right. So I called back. The second advisor was able to find a phone number for the property and call the owner to get a street address. Thanks to OnStar, I slept safely in a bed that night.
Of all the Chevy vehicles that I’ve test-driven so far, this Trax has been my favorite (so far). Maybe it’s because we went through so much together. Or because driving it for two weeks rather than a couple of days solidified our relationship. Maybe because I was smitten from the second I laid eyes on the gray interior. Maybe because the storm blue metallic color—I’m not making up the name!—seemed to shift between blue and purple, two of my favorite hues. Maybe because it had such great useful features and seemed to be the perfect size for me. Or maybe because I’m convinced that it saved me at least twice.
Favorite Features: 2018 Chevy Trax
During our drive, these are the features that we discovered and liked best…
- Smooth ride!
- Feels safe!
- 10 air bags! (we didn’t use any of them, but it was nice to know they were there)
- Stabilitrak – stability control system with traction control (surely an asset in storms!)
- 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (surely an asset in storms, on gravel roads, and frost-covered hills)
- Tire-pressure monitor system
- Lane departure warning
- Rear cross traffic alert
- Forward collision alert
- 6-way power seat adjuster
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror (no glare at night!)
- Attractive seats! (jet black / light ash gray)
- Leather seats with heating technology
- Keyless open & start
- Rear vision camera
- Side blind zone alert
- There’s also a myChevrolet Mobile App that turns your mobile device into a virtual command center
The sticker price of the 2018 Trax Premier AWD that we test drove is $28,795. Fuel economy is listed as 30 mpg highway/24 mpg city.
On average, new car buyers keep vehicles for just over 6.6 years, according IHS Markit. To help purchasers in Georgia take the best care of their cars, as of October 15, 2018, GM announced that it is now is offering those who purchase new vehicles the opportunity to extend their factory bumper-to-bumper warranties. For Chevy and GMC, the warranty extends to as long as 5 years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first), and Buick and Cadillac offer 6 years or 70,000 miles. No other brand offers customers the opportunity to extend their factory bumper-to-bumper warranties. Read more here.
- The extended warranties are accepted without question by all Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers.
- Any warranty service is completed without need to file a claim form and with no deductible.
- The warranty is in force no matter who owns the vehicle, so there’s no need to transfer coverage. This may enhance the resale value of the vehicle.
- The cost of the extended warranty is competitive with service contracts, and the cost of the coverage can be folded into the loan or lease at the customer’s request.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Thanks to Chevrolet for lending me the 2018 Trax Premier AWD.