If there’s a brand in the Philippines that deserves a win, it’s Chevrolet. We can only imagine what they have had to deal with, especially since GM has practically pulled out their manufacturing in Southeast Asia, effectively canceling strong regional models like the Colorado and the Trailblazer SUV that was based on it.
They’ve had to be resourceful and realign their business to import models from South Korea and North America. As you can imagine, given the absence of advantageous free trade agreements, the pricing isn’t exactly attractive.
That seems to be the case with the new generation Chevrolet Trax; a model range with a price list that truly raised our eyebrows when they announced it. And they tossed us the key to the top-spec Trax RS variant that retails for a (I hope you’re seated) whopping 1.95 million Philippine pesos.
The price is high for this crossover, especially considering that the previous generation a decade ago retailed in top LT trim for just over PHP 1.2 million. Be that as it may, can it justify itself? Or is it too much of an ask?
In the style department, I can say that Chevrolet certainly did well. The Trax looks good, bar none. It’s a handsomely styled 5-door crossover with a low roof and wide stance that has a somewhat Subaru Outback or XV vibe about it. The new generation is certainly a big leap forward in design from the predecessor.
Seriously, we think this can turn heads, especially in the shade of blue selected by Chevrolet. Toss in the neatly blacked RS details, the black 18” wheels, the trim that sweeps downward on the front, and the power sunroof, and what you have is a real looker of a crossover.
If you need cargo space, this one is respectable too. Given that it’s significantly longer and wider, space is better. The maximum length with the rear seats folded down is about 57” or just a little under 1.5 meters. Cargo volume goes up to about 1400 liters; again, good for the class. And in the RS trim, you get a power tailgate; you don’t need a power liftgate here, but still, that’s something neat to have.
The interior, however, falls a little short for me. Expectations for a vehicle in this class and at this price point are going to be high. Think about it this way: if you paid quite a premium for a condo, you’d want the finishing to be perfect and the materials to be commensurate to the price, but the Trax still feels a bit plasticky, a bit too normal for the sticker price.
Maybe the feature list can make up for it, and yes the spec sheet is quite long. In front of the driver is an 8” HD display where the cluster would be, while a larger 11” screen sits front and center on the dashboard. 6 speakers is standard for this variant along with Bluetooth and Android Auto. The driver’s seat is power-adjustable, and the black leather seats with the red RS accents look great too. All variants get auto climate control with rear A/C vents and a cabin filter. There is also an extensive list of safety features that includes brake-induced torque vectoring, auto emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and so on and so forth.
There are some things that are notably missing though. For one, you don’t get Apple Carplay here; that I found to be odd as typically some cars have Apple but no Android Auto. And I also found the spec sheet to be a bit stretched out to include things that really don’t need to be mentioned like corner brake control and engine drag control. There’s really no need for all that, and even then, it still doesn’t have adaptive cruise control. Odd.
So far, it’s a hit-and-miss for the Trax RS. But maybe the way it drives can make up for it.
If you want something smooth, comfortable & efficient, this will be the crossover for you. That’s what it delivers. In the city -even on EDSA- it manages the bumps well. The vehicle is also quiet inside, which is nice given the hustle of the city.
More importantly, the car is efficient too; 11 kilometers in the city without even trying is pretty good. When we pop the hood, we can see the secret to that efficiency: this Trax comes with a 1.2L three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Good as those attributes are, the drawback of the rather tiny 1.2 engine (yes, even with the turbo) is when it comes to the open road. Floor the throttle and yes, the response is alright, but the power and torque just doesn’t come in at lower RPMs. That’s the problem. It’s quite a small engine, and as expected it produces just 137 PS and 220 Nm of torque at a fairly high 2500 rpm.
That means you’ll be revving more when there’s an incline, when you’re overtaking (and need the power to make it quick), and when the car is loaded. The efficiency does drop significantly when you’ve got at least 3 pax in the Trax.
There’s a good car here that is worthy of praise, but it’s having a hard time showing itself given the steep price tag, the small engine for the class and size, the interior that isn’t premium enough to command the price, and many more things.
If it was maybe around PHP 1.6 million, then yeah, the Trax RS would be great. But at PHP 1,948,888? It’s just too much of an ask.