2015 Chevrolet Trax

2015 Chevrolet Trax

Episode 3419
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Chevrolet is well known for its full-size SUVs like this Tahoe. But, it’s really small utes that are fast becoming today’s big deal. The Nissan Juke, MINI Countryman, and Buick Encore are already out, with more coming like the Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and our focus this week, the Chevrolet Trax. Now, Chevy is no stranger to tiny utes. But, their last one, the Tracker built with Suzuki, was less than the best. So let’s see the new Trax is on the right track.

Utility vehicles are coming in ever more shapes and sizes these days, so love them or hate them; they’re not going away anytime soon. This 2015 Chevrolet Trax plays into a segment that is ripe for explosive growth: sub-compact crossovers. 

While most efforts so far have been luxury minded, like the Mini Cooper Countryman, and Buick Encore, with which this Trax shares a platform, more mainstream brands are now joining the downsizing. And it’s about time, as we think the Encore’s size would work for Chevy from the get go. 

And actually it has been, as the South Korean made Trax is already sold in over 60 global markets. It’s just new to Chevy dealers here. 

Mechanically, the Trax is nearly a clone of the Encore, including front-wheel-drive being standard with all-wheel-drive optional. Power comes from the same “little engine that almost can”. Lifted from the Chevy Sonic subcompact, it’s a 1.4-liter I4 turbo with 138-horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque, attached to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Also from Sonic is the MacPherson strut front suspension, and compound crank torsion beam under the rear. 

On both city streets and the sweeping canyons east of San Diego, where we got our first drive, the suspension tuning proved fully competent; similar to Encore; not sporty, not soft, but a good middle ground. Ride quality is pretty good for a short wheelbase vehicle, until the roads get really choppy.

The all-wheel-drive system is a fully automatic on-demand system. Sending power rearward when slip is detected, which does include on tight turns. Curb weight is as much as 3,300 pounds with all-wheel-drive. 

On the technology front, the Trax is fully up to speed with a 7-inch MyLink display in the center stack, Siri Eyes Free connectivity, standard keyless entry; and optional remote start. Like all newest GM’s, OnStar 4G LTE with built-in WiFi is standard, as is a back-up camera; though navigation, by way of the BringGo app is optional. 

The instrument panel is more Sonic than Encore with a large, round, motorcycle style tachometer on the left, and a rectangular digital display right for speed and more. The 3-spoke steering wheel has nicely integrated controls; and the overall fit-and-finish of the interior seems perfectly fine for a Chevy price point. 

A full complement of 3 in the back seat would be uncomfortable for all parties involved, but both leg and knee room were adequate for 2 adults; reliefs cut into the front seatbacks help a lot. Up front, there’s a good amount of room as well, but seats are narrow and you still sit very upright. 

As for cargo, rear seatbacks fold 60/40, and the front passenger seat folds flat as well, for longer items. At 18.7 cubic-ft., rear cargo space is larger than both the Nissan Juke and Jeep Renegade, 48.4 cubic-ft. with the seat backs folded.

And there’s a wealth of small item storage bins throughout the interior. 10-airbags are standard, including rear seat-mounted thorax bags. 

On the outside, all of the current Chevrolet design cues are here; dual-port grille, smooth body sides with rounded fenders, and a gently sloping rear with well integrated spoiler that extends down the sides of the back glass, and stacked tail lamps.

It’s a smooth design with plenty of curves, a fairly aggressive stance, and enough glass for fine visibility.  Body lowers are covered in plastic; and simulated skid plate’s front and rear hint at capabilities that are probably best left untested. 

16-inch wheels are standard, with the top trim model getting 18’s. Wheelbase of just 100.6-inches, and a front track of 60.6 inches makes for a tidy package. Overall length comes in at 168.5-inches; ground clearance is a good 6.2-inches.   

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for a front-wheel-drive Trax are 26-City, 34-Highway, and 29-Combined.  Sending power to all 4 wheels will lower those numbers to 24-city, 31-Highway, and 27-Combined. That’s still good for an above average Energy Impact Score of 11.4-barrels of annual oil use with CO2 emissions of 5.1-tons.

Pricing follows an affordable Chevrolet formula starting at $20,995. All-wheel-drive adds $1,500 more, which makes it the least expensive all-wheel-drive Chevrolet you can buy. A base Encore stickers for 4-grand more. 

So for 2015, GM morphs the Buick Encore into the Chevrolet Trax, and fortunately all of the competency is left fully intact. The Encore was a much bigger hit than expected, so this one will certainly have higher expectations. But, we think the Trax is off on the right track to fully meet them.

Specifications

  • Engine: 1.4 liter
  • Horsepower: 138
  • Torque: 148 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 26 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.1 tons/yr
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
2024 Lexus GX550 3
2024 Lexus GX550 Profile
2024 Lexus GX550 5
2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Rear
2024 Lexus GX550 Wheel
2024 Lexus GX550 Badge
2024 Lexus GX550 Grille
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
2024 Lexus GX550 Steering Wheel
2024 Lexus GX550 Infotainment
2024 Lexus GX550 Shifter
2024 Lexus GX550 Front Seat
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs