The 2024 Chevy Trax impressed me a lot more than I expected anything with a 1.2-liter engine could. I mean, it's not in a hurry to get anywhere, but this is a sharp car for the list price and it handled quite a bit of cargo for its size.
Compact crossovers are good all-around vehicles for basic transportation and stuff-carrying duty. The Trax is primarily bred to be an affordable conveyance, but I think keeping running costs low will ultimately depend on you driving gently. Stand on the gas pedal all day and that little turbo engine will spin itself silly turning fuel into noise. Luckily, I have found that dogs like life in the slow lane anyway.
Welcome to Will It Dog, The Drive's car review series for canine owners. Here we'll look at what a Chevy Trax is like to live with if you have dogs and point out any specific aspects that help or hurt its case as a dog taxi. We'll focus on the car's physical attributes when it comes to carrying animals rather than driving dynamics, but provide insights there too.
Our main test dogs Bramble, Indi, and Silas are littermates; half Golden Retriever (dad) and half Australian Shepherd (mom). Bramble's the smallest at 40-odd pounds while her brothers are about 60 pounds apiece. They're energetic animals but comfortable with car rides, harnesses, and travel.
I actually remember driving the new-for-2015 Chevy Trax when it first came out and thinking, "I guess this isn't terrible." The motorcycle-style gauge cluster was even kind of cool. But this second generation is a major leap forward in design and layout. While not the kind of car you'd be itching to drive purely for the sake of feeling the road, I generally liked getting around in it and so did our dogs.
2024 Chevrolet Trax Specs for Dog Owners
Interior Materials and Layout
The Trax is slightly larger than its Trailblazer stablemate, though that vehicle is a little more expensive. But the layout of both vehicles is the same: Two front seats divided by a center console, a tall and consistent roofline over three back seats, and then a cargo back accessible via the rear hatch. But the Trax dashboard is a lot sleeker, with cool shapes spanning the interior and a wide screen.
The Trax's rear seats fold down three ways, you can drop the far-left seat, the center and right together, or the whole thing to put the vehicle in carrying mode. You do not, however, need to mess with the seats at all for carrying animals though we'll get into that in a later section.
The 2RS trim I tested has heated front seats and a leather-like synthetic upholstery that GM calls Evotex. I found it comfortable and very easy to clean drool and paw prints off. The seats look great, too, with red piping and cool "RS" headrest inserts. The seating position didn't quite agree with me though, especially in the passenger seat—it felt like just a little too much of an obtuse angle. Not dealbreakingly annoying, though.
The 2RS also benefits from a mighty crisp 11-inch touchscreen that's really well-integrated into the dash and tilted toward the driver. My iPhone connected to Apple CarPlay wirelessly and quickly, though the wireless charging pad only worked sometimes (I never get satisfying performance from these in any car). The main gauge cluster is digital too, and soothingly minimalistic. The whole cockpit architecture is really quite nice. I loved the shapes and look of the Trax's command console—clean, sharp, and complements the exterior, without being overwrought or unintuitive. Climate controls are good old-fashioned hot/cold knobs as they should be.
Climbing In and Out
I remain convinced that the ease of ingress and egress is one of the biggest reasons that small crossovers are so popular. The seats and roof height make the Trax easy to get in for a big range of body types—human or canine. Only very small or elderly animals would need a boost over the door's threshold to the footwell. Dogs need to be a little springier to make it straight to the backseat or cargo bay, but it wouldn't be too bad to lift a lazy pooch through the door if you had to.
The doors open plenty wide enough, and there's enough room in the back to sit on the tailgate with a medium-sized dog for a post-hike snack break.
Driving With the Dog
Our female Bramble was very pleased that the Trax's rear windows can roll all the way down, a trick not all vehicles this small can manage. But you've got to balance the windows carefully because wind buffeting gets really intense and changes dramatically with small speed adjustments. At 35 mph with just the left rear open it'd be fine, then approach 40 and your eardrums would be getting battered. While a version of this happens in most four-door cars, it felt particularly intense in the Trax.
When you roll the windows up, the air conditioning makes the front area cold fairly quickly but there aren't any vents in the center console directly blasting the rear seats. And since the Trax is relatively compact, you might find paws next to your elbow and a dripping tongue by your ear on hot days. We did most of the photography you're seeing here at over 90 Fahrenheit ambient (unsettlingly common in New York in the summer of 2023) and when we got the dogs in the car, they all crowded the central A/C vents.
Driving in General
The Trax is definitely a car. It gets around at suburban speeds just fine but kind of groans in anything resembling aggressive passing. I would simply stick to the right lane and save the gas money rather than floor it and have to listen to its little engine rally. Similarly, nothing about this car makes you want to saw the steering wheel and run slaloms. It's soft enough to soak up small-medium potholes, though.
This 2RS trim runs nice Continental tires on 19-inch wheels that caught my sister-in-law's eye for a "nice wheels" comment—I mention this because I've never heard her say a single thing about any car ever. I'd say "grip is good" but I drove the car at approximately the speed limit, so, you'd sure hope so. All Trax models are front-wheel-drive, which is fine. All-wheel drive is more of an unnecessary expense than an advantage when high-quality tires will get you through a Northeastern winter no problem.
The six-speed automatic transmission in my test car was never in a big rush to get me down a gear to make power. It can be manually overridden by shifting to L and using a +/- toggle on the shift knob if you're really feeling ambitious.
Cabin noise isn't brutal, but the engine does yawn rather loudly when you put it to work. Chevrolet uses active noise cancellation (inaudible sound waves from the stereo speakers) to smooth out the tiny engine's exclamations and other ambient noise from the road and tires. I was wondering if that tech would bother a dog's sensitive ears, but our animals showed no aversion at all. If they could hear the Trax's noise-canceling sounds, these dogs certainly didn't seem bothered by it.
The Trax can physically fit quite a few decent-sized dogs in the back seat and cargo bay, but they really wanted to climb forward into the cockpit! It's not really fair to call this a shortcoming of the car—as I mentioned, the ambient temperature was obscene when we did our testing and the animals were fighting over proximity to the A/C vents.
Still, it's worth understanding that a Retriever or Shepherd-sized dog can very easily access the center console if you've got them in the back seat. You might also get a tongue or snout in your ear from the other side of the seat, too. Buckling your animals in with a crash-tested harness like the Säker Ascension would go a long way to mitigating this, though.
If you put all the seats down, you could probably fit four, maybe five, grown Golden Retrievers in a pile pretty comfortably as long as it wasn't too hot and they weren't too wiggly. You won't necessarily have to spend the rest of your life vacuuming, either—dog hair doesn't stick to these seats or door cards at all and it only took a cursory vacuuming to get the fur-saturated floormats clean.
The Trax has good kennel capacity for its size. A medium-sized kennel could fit in the cargo area or in the seating area, and if you wanted to drop the bigger section of rear seats, you could also run it perpendicular to the door.
However, keep in mind that the dog in these photos is under 50 pounds and this Medium Diggs Enventur kennel is maxed out with her inside. Our male dogs would need a taller kennel, and though a taller kennel would theoretically fit within the car, I'm not sure how you'd get one through the doors.
A non-inflatable kennel would have to be loaded in through the back, but you might be able to get a bigger one in by tipping it from the back and pushing through.
Chevy Trax Dog-Friendliness Verdict
The 2024 Trax feels like a good get-around car and a darn decent dog taxi. Its strengths are style, value, and a good useable space-to-footprint ratio. Weaker points are acceleration and engine noise.
This may not be an exceptionally rewarding car for driving enthusiasts, but it's one of the best-looking practical cars in the sub-$30,000 neighborhood right now. The bigger screen and seats make the nicer RS trim worth it, too. And I'd strongly recommend holding out for one of Chevy's nice color options here. For a $395 upcharge, you can spec Fountain Blue (featured in these photos), Nitro Yellow Metallic, or Cayenne Orange Metallic. There's also a nice green (Cacti) and another red (Crimson) on the options list.
Though, of course, your dog will not care about (or see) what color you go for.
Featured Dog Car Gear and Travel Accessories
Harness: Säker Ascension Extended ($99.95 at sakercanine.com)
Leash: Säker Sentiero 2.0 ($33.95 at sakercanine.com)
Seat Cover: Dickie’s Repreve ($29.88 at Walmart)
Portable Kennel: Enventur Travel Kennel (starts at $425.00 at Diggs.pet)
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