We're sitting at a rain-soaked Monticello Motor Club a few hours outside of New York City with a line of 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28s parked in pit lane. Sitting adjacent to these 505 horsepower track leviathans is Chevy's latest small SUV, the Trax. The original plan was to drive the Z/28 around the track a few times and then take a spin out on public roads in the Trax. Simple enough, right? Thanks to heavy rain that hung over the track during the duration of our time at Monticello, half that plan went up in smoke and instead we spent our time wheeling a Canadian-spec Trax through the surrounding area.

There are two minor differences in the Trax we drove versus the one that will arrive in U.S. showrooms early next year. The first one concerns Canadian crash testing and the second can be found in the grille, which is styled slightly differently than the one coming stateside. Everything else on the Trax we drove reflects the model we'll see early on in 2015. If the Trax looks familiar already though, it should, as it was already launched in Canada and Mexico back in 2012 and then in Europe last year. With the introduction of the Trax in the U.S. early next year, it marks  the seventh time Chevrolet has launched a small vehicle stateside in less than four years. 

Refined Interior

A dual-cockpit instrument cluster shares similar styling traits to that of the subcompact Sonic. A large, performance-oriented analog tachometer stares back at you while the speedometer and other important info is displayed digitally. A 7-inch color touchscreen display is present at the top of the center console which showcases Chevy's MyLink infotainment system and a standard backup camera. Our vehicle had cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and rubber floor mats. Storage space is abundant in the Trax with an upper and lower glovebox and another small spot for a phone or wallet above the center console. 

Also: Check out the 2014 Compact SUV field 

On the Road

There's only one engine choice for the 2015 Chevrolet Trax and it comes in the form of a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Chevy is confident the 2015 Trax will earn an SAE certification of 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is paired to this engine and is also the only option available. During our time with the Trax, we traversed rough, winding roads and overall the 1.4-liter turbocharged application was adequate, but we wouldn't mind a little bump in power, either. Acceleration uphill lagged a little bit but, while EPA fuel figures haven't been announced yet, we observed an average fuel economy just north of 33 mpg.

Engine noise was also an issue but we give Chevrolet credit for picking a drive route that featured patches of broken pavement. When the road did smooth out, the Trax shined bright as it rode each curve effortlessly. Handling the Trax was a breeze and parking the small SUV during a few different occasions was very easy as well. The 6-speed automatic transmission did a nice job rowing through gears as the terrain rose and fell like waves rolling in on shore. 

The Verdict

We're anxious to get some more time with the 2015 Chevrolet Trax to poke around a little bit more and get it on our home turf in Southern California but after first contact, we like what we see. A copious amount of storage space and cargo room give Chevy's new, small SUV a real fighting chance in a growing segment. Once it does officially come stateside, the Trax will square off against the likes of the Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Although our time with the Trax was spent with a Canadian variant, we liked what we saw during our time with it.

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