The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2024 finalist puts value first

The redesigned Chevrolet Trax grows longer, larger, and lovelier for its second generation, and the hatchback marketed as an entry-level crossover does something its predecessor and most new cars fail to do: The 2024 Trax strikes us as one of the best new car values on the market. 

With a starting price of just $21,495, including destination, the five-seat Trax marks a new and promising future for the entry-level car. As automakers have slashed small cars with small margins from their lineup, they’ve seemingly marked the end of the budget car. The Kia Rio, Nissan Versa, and Mitsubishi Mirage are the only new cars left with a starting price below $20,000, including mandatory destination fees. The Kia Rio has been discontinued for 2024, and the Mitsubishi Mirage ends production in 2025, leaving only the Nissan Versa as a budget car. 

The new Trax signals an evolution away from subcompacts and hatchbacks into more popular crossover body styles that ride a bit higher and have more room. Related to the similarly situated Buick Envista, also new for 2024 and also one of nine finalists for our Best Car To Buy 2024 award, the Trax employs a 137-hp 1.2-liter turbo-3 with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It only comes with front-wheel drive, which is why it is a hatchback and not a crossover SUV. 

But it’s sized like a crossover SUV, and now slots between the smaller Chevy Trailblazer and larger Chevy Equinox in the brand’s crossover lineup of eight vehicles. Long gone are the Cruze, Sonic, and Impala—the only four-door car still sold by Chevy is the Malibu, and rumors of its end have been going for years. 

It’s not just the size and price of the Trax that appeals, it’s the total package. The long flat roof with the integrated roof spoiler could be mistaken for a wagon, and in profile its athletic build looks like a smaller Blazer. It looks nothing like its ovoid predecessor, and looks nothing like a budget car. That carries over inside, with rounded vents, simple climate buttons, and an uncluttered dash topped with a digital instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

It looks and feels fresh and modern, and comes loaded with other popular features, including USB-C ports and cruise control, as well as driver-assist technology such as automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights. Most Trax upgrade to an 11.0-inch touchscreen, remote start, and heated front seats.

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

2024 Chevrolet Trax

There’s really no compromise here, and Chevy knows its audience by capping the Trax range at $24,995 for the Activ model. The 6-speed automatic can hold gears for too long, leading to plenty of engine noise in the cabin and a need to plan passing moves to get the right downshift and wring enough power from the turbo-3, but these are minor criticisms that are easily overcome. On the upside, the turbo-3 helps it attain 30 mpg combined. 

It has 7.3 inches of ground clearance, but at 61.5 inches tall, it rides slightly shorter than the Chevy Trailblazer or Subaru Crosstrek. Four adults can fit comfortably in the Trax, and a fifth could chip in gas money on the college road trip home for the holidays. With 25.6 cubic feet of space in the hatch, or 54.1 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded flat, the Trax is not only a great first car, it’s versatile enough to grow with its owners from their wayward 20s into a more composed 30s that might find them in the family way. 

The 2024 Trax checks so many boxes in what we deem critical for our Best Car To Buy award. It has every right to be nominated the winner by our editorial panel of judges, who will announce the award on Jan. 3, 2024. We’ll also announce the winners from our sister publications, Motor Authority for performance and luxury vehicles, and Green Car Reports for energy-efficient vehicles. 

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