We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great companies who’ve been willing to loan us a variety of equipment to test and then review for you our readers. So when Chevrolet said okay to a request to review one of their connected cars we were just a little bit surprised. It’s been a few months since I’ve had the 2015 Chevrolet Trax and I’ve been sitting on this review for a few reasons, mostly because I’ve had trouble forming my words around a product I’ve never done a written review on. I’m no authority on cars but I do love technology so most of this review will talk about the Trax technology and how that looks for you. So without wasting anymore time, this is our 2015 Chevrolet Trax review.
UPDATE 10/19/2015 12:15PM EST: Chevrolet has clarified a few points in this review with us as I got them wrong. First off, Android Auto and CarPlay will not be available on the Trax as I stated, I had originally thought the Trax would be getting the feature but it will not. You can find the complete list here. My thoughts on CarPlay and Android Auto were made from my experience with another Chevrolet vehicle that has them integrated. I should have contacted Chevrolet to clarify if the Trax was getting these features before including them.
Second, Chevrolet clarifies the BringGo app is .99 and a one time fee for the service, not a monthly fee as I stated in the review.
My apologies if I created any confusion with my misstatements.
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Chevrolet has been well known for OnStar over the years and that hasn’t changed for 2015. OnStar is still very much a part of the Chevrolet Trax. The same sorts of things come with OnStar should you choose to have the service installed, such as “Directions & Connections.” This is basically the OnStar GPS along with their service which you can use to contact an OnStar representative in case you need emergency assistance. Included in the OnStar service is “Crash Response” which contacts rescue personnel if the software detects you’ve been in a serious collision. “Crash Response” will work even if the airbags are not deployed. OnStar is also partnering with AT&T to bring 4G/LTE connectivity into its vehicles including this 2015 Chevrolet Trax.
AT&T’s LTE connectivity turns your car into a rolling hotspot allowing multiple connected devices at once (7 total devices). Pricing and packages vary on this feature and expect about the same costs as any other mobile service. The Wi-Fi range is about 50 feet around the vehicle and it works in the US and Canada. Of course OnStar still offers all the rest of the services and features they’ve been known to provide like hands free calling and vehicle diagnostics. While OnStar has been around on Chevrolet for some time now, Chevrolet is starting to realize that consumers are relying more and more on their smartphones and they’ve taken steps to integrate the use of that technology in their cars. Fourteen models of Chevrolet are planned to have this connectivity and not just the high end cars. Cars like the Cruze and this very Trax are going to reap the benefits of being smarter.
(please see our update above regarding CarPlay and Android Auto)
The Chevrolet Trax works with Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto with the former having a few more connectivity advantages than the latter. While Chevrolet and Google are working together to make a solid user experience Apple has a slight lead in terms of functionality and features.
Using Apple CarPlay is pretty simple, just activate CarPlay on your phone and set yourself up, which is a breeze, then you’re ready to go. CarPlay in the Chevrolet Trax allows you to use Siri, navigate with Apple Maps, reply to text messages and take phone calls. If you’re worried about people using CarPlay and watching videos on the 7″ built in screen you need not worry. CarPlay turns off access to video and limits the number of apps you can actually use while connected. Being able to use Siri is a great feature but through no fault of Chevrolet, Siri still sucks in a car as much as she sucks on the phone. Although to be fair, she does a decent job at voice to text and voice calling. What she really isn’t good at is web searching and other tasks you’ll likely not be doing while driving.
You can use other apps that are installed on your phone, such as Pandora, Apple Music, AudioBooks, Podcasts, almost anything that has audio and wouldn’t be distracting. Video apps are not on the friendly list so don’t expect to watch Netflix or Hulu while driving 75mph on the Interstate.
CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated into Chevrolet’s MyLink system. Think of it as a skin like Samsung or HTC put on Android. Your CarPlay and Android Auto will look nearly identical to what your phone experience looks like, MyLink doesn’t override either one but it is in the background with it’s own services just in case you would want to use those instead of CarPlay or Android Auto. The MyLink interface reminds me a bit of XBMC in terms of aesthetics. It’s not unattractive and some without smartphones or who don’t want to connect their phones to the car may find MyLink useful.
One feature app Chevrolet talked up was the BringGo navigation app, something they hope you would use on your phone instead of Apple Maps or Google Maps, which you can use with CarPlay and Android Auto. I downloaded the BringGo app and used it for a brief time and was rather unimpressed with its capabilities and highly suggest sticking with Google Maps or Apple Maps, whichever one of those does the trick for you. BringGo just feels unpolished and unfinished and there is a monthly fee with the service after your initial 30 day trial.
Overall Chevrolet is really leading the way in integrating technology into their vehicles, heads and tails above their competition. Using CarPlay and AndroidAuto is pretty seamless and easy and the safety features taken to ensure you’re using the technology correctly gives me confidence the system can’t be used in such a way as to cause an accident. Chevrolet is going to be offering CarPlay and Android Auto in fourteen vehicles starting here at the end of 2015.
For most of my car buying life I have gravitated towards imports like Honda, Mazda and Volkswagen but these past few years I’ve become more intrigued by American car design and I was really happy to have a chance to test the Trax out. The Trax is actually very nicely designed, the lines and cuts in the car are nicely done and it has a tough yet handsome appearance. The rear of the car is my only hesitation. While not in the ugly category, I did feel they could have done a little more at the rear. Yet overall the design of the Trax is the nicest I’ve seen from Chevy in a mid-sized SUV. Overall I think Chevrolet’s exterior design is great for the Trax, some might compare it to the Equinox but it is slightly different.
Interior’s have always been a huge gripe of mine when it comes to American cars, I’ve always felt the interiors used too much cheap plastics and not enough thought went into function. I am pleased to say that the Trax helped to relieve some of those past ideas in my head. The Trax interior is handsome and pretty functional, I still would like to see the dash a little closer to the driver. As a driver I should be able to reach all controls without ever having to stretch or reach for things. The Trax did well but there were some issues having to stretch to reach. One of the biggest plusses of the interior were the front bucket seats, these things were the most comfortable seats I’ve sat in for a long time. Overall the interior design is decent, the oversized vents a lot of Chevrolet cars come with are very present here and kind of ugly. But on the plus side those seats were amazing!
The Trax drive quality really blew me away, I haven’t driven an American car in a very long time but the Trax didn’t feel like any American car I’ve ever driven. It was a smooth ride with very little road noise and bumps were absorbed very well providing a great and comfortable ride. The drivetrain also performed admirably giving me the horses when I needed them most. Overall the drive quality is probably a huge plus for this little SUV. I found it comfortable to drive and easy on the back with those seats.
Cargo Space and Passenger Space
I was pretty surprised at home much room there was for human bodies inside this cabin. Sitting in the rear there was still plenty of headroom and plenty of elbow room for two adults at even 6′ tall. The front passenger area also has great room although the passenger’s seat does not have an armrest which kind of sucks. I know Chevrolet probably left that armrest off so it was easier to get into the center console but it still feel awkward without an armrest.
Cargo space is another plus, plenty of room can be had with the seats all folded up but it really gets roomy once you fold down the rear seats and the front passengers seat to gain a whole bunch of room. While the Trax isn’t on par with a pickup truck, the cargo space here is impressive for such a small vehicle.
Value and Wrap Up
Cars are expensive, the review unit I tested clocked in at $23,815.00 which is not chump change. Driving the Trax LT for a week really changed my mind about American cars and my wife and I are going to be looking at Chevrolet for our future car purchase. The Trax LT is worth its asking price. While there are some design elements I wasn’t keen on the ones I was made up for the ones I didn’t like. The main point of this review though, is that the Trax can be equipped with a technology package sometimes reserved for higher end cars. The integration of Android Auto and CarPlay makes this small SUV worth looking at and considering if you’re in the market for a small SUV.