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My wife and I recently went car shopping; that’s noteworthy only because most marketers – based on our TV viewing – would seem to think that, at our age and firmly in retirement, we’re only interested in pharmaceuticals. Period. End of discussion. Happily, while we’ll admit to popping a pill periodically, we’ve been in the car market over the last several years more often than (perhaps) we would have planned. We’ve made a trip (or two) into towing a trailer during Covid, we purchased Toyota’s Venza for a second zip code near LA and, most recently, replaced our ’06 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a brand new Grand Cherokee. It’s that most recent visit to a new car showroom that brings me to this: New cars are damn expensive. Period. End of discussion. 

There is, however, hope. And some of that hope can be found on the Chevrolet website…or even better, at a Chevy dealership. At either location you can find – and build and buy! – Chevy’s entry-level Trax. And with its upscale design, reasonable spec and accessible price point, almost anyone in the market for a car – any car – can afford it.

Frankly, the Trax hadn’t been on my personal radar until this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, which I visited over Thanksgiving. In its previous iteration it generated absolutely no interest at all; its design, footprint and price made a great argument for Honda’s pre-owned HR-V. With its redesign (which Car and Driver dubs ‘dazzling’), Chevy’s design team swung for the fences, stretching the wheelbase and overall length while increasing passenger and cargo volumes. And the team draped it all in sheetmetal I’d term sexy – even without my daily meds.

Of course, with all of that goodness – and a base price firmly in the low $20s – there are compromises, and the first begins under the hood. While many of its direct competitors boast 4-cylinder powertrains, the Trax utilizes three turbocharged cylinders of 1.2 liters displacement, and delivering but 137 horsepower to propel its 3,000 pound curb weight. The better news: With its turbo driving the front wheels through a conventional 6-speed automatic, you’ll enjoy 162 lb-ft of torque, and arrive at 60 from a standing start in less than nine seconds. Which beats the hell out of walking. And that conventional automatic transmission avoids the continual search for a ‘gear’ – any gear! – which is typical of the more frequently seen CVT trans.

In this category the compact crossover’s 98 cubic feet of passenger space (Hyundai’s Venue has but 92) is generous, while also boasting 54 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded – and 26 cubic feet with the rear seat used for people. Chevy calls it a 5-passenger platform, but let’s be realistic; four will be comfortable, and five – unless very small – will be miserable.

I haven’t driven the Trax, but based on my walkaround in Los Angeles I’d very much like to get behind the wheel. It would seem the perfect urban runabout, and if equipped with real winter rubber, would probably get you to any ski resort you’d want to visit. That’s while knowing that if you’re using the valet your Trax won’t be front-and-center; that’s still reserved for the Big Man’s newish ‘Vette or Escalade. 

That $20K base probably works out to a $23K with modest adds, plus – of course – taxes, title and license. But you can finance the $20,000 for five years at under $400/month, and three years of that will be covered by a comprehensive warranty. For $100 per week that’s real peace of mind, along with a real piece of attractive design and practical functionality. Who’d a thunk?

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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