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2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America

For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

The Trax that goes on sale later this year will put Chevy into a hip corner of the market; at the moment, the Nissan Juke is the only head-to-head competitor with an all-wheel-drive option, while the more popular Kia Soul offers a similar, if more funky, package with front-wheel-drive only. Chevy marketers expect this particular niche to grow 80 percent over the next three years, and given the financial challenges and driving demands of younger couples, this sounds like a wise move.

Mechanically, the Trax differs little from the Cruze, and not at all from its luxury cousin, the Buick Encore; either the front or all wheels spin from a 1.4-liter turbo making 138 hp/148 lb-ft of torque tied to a six-speed automatic, which in Encore form return up to 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway. A brief test drive in the pouring rain demonstrated the "no alarms, no surprises" approach in Chevy's small car engineering; the Trax will only go off-roading by accident, and will be raced only for a parking spot at Target, where it can haul out 48.1 cubic feet of half-off bedding and dog food with the rear seats folded.

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