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Compact SUVs are not exactly known for their spacious cabins. but the 2021 Chevrolet Trax actually makes an impressive splash. Getting in and out is easy, and external visibility is vast for a vehicle in this class. The Trax manages to get a lot of things right that its competitors do not quite nail. Not only do passengers have a ton of space, but you get many standard features for the price.
On the downside, the ride quality can get choppy when you get going on the highway. It performs well enough on standard city streets, but the harder you push the weak base engine to accelerate, the bumpier the ride quality becomes. This is not typical for a vehicle in its class, and there are competitors with much more refined rides.
Another big problem drivers might take with the Trax is the fuel economy. The engine is thirsty - parched, to be more precise. This engine is a 1.4-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that only musters up 138 hp - nowhere near enough to get a vehicle of its size up to speed in good fashion.
The Trax is built on an out-of-date model even though it was introduced in 2015. The 2021 just does not feel contemporary enough, unlike some other Chevy models. Newer competitors that have come out since 2015 feel more up-to-speed with their technology and mechanical bits. Not to mention that the Trax just feels neglected as it has been pared down to only two trim levels: the LS and the LT. The previous line-topping trim (the Premier) was given the ax this model year.
This means that, yes, we are only going to have two trim levels to compare in this review. We will be looking at the differences between the LS and LT, but we have to warn you upfront that they are more the same than they are different. You will probably end up looking at other vehicles, but should you be intrigued by the Trax, you are also going to want to pay attention to the optional packages we will discuss.
Compare the 2021 Chevrolet Trax LS vs LT - What is the Difference?
As we have already mentioned, the 2021 Chevrolet Trax only comes in two different trim levels: the LS and the LT. They both share the same 1.4-L turbo 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Other standard mechanical features include 4-wheel anti-lock front disc/rear drum brakes that are supposed to keep wheel lock-up to a minimum as well as keeping steering control in check when the vehicle hits rough or wet surface spots. Front-wheel drive is the only drivetrain available; all-wheel drive is sadly not an option.
The engine runs with the help of a 130-amp alternator and 60AH battery. Keyless ignition is not available on the LS, but you can opt for it on the LT. This feature is handy since it lets you use an integrated key fob sensor instead of the general key to access and start the vehicle. You do not even have to take your keys out of your purse or pocket in order to start the vehicle. When the vehicle is in either Park or Neutral, you can press down on the brake pedal and then hit the engine start/stop button to get the engine going. A little green light will show up and tell you it is running. Convenient, right? It is worth the addition if you go for the LT.
An oil pan heater is available for both trim levels. With this feature, you can warm the oil up to an optimal temperature before getting started in the winter. On cold mornings, this creates an easier start-up for your vehicle's engine.
Power steering comes standard on both trim levels. It is electronic with non-variable ratio. This ensures that you get more assistance with steering in low-speed situations, such as when you go to park. Depending on the wheel's angle, the amount of assistance you get will either be increased or decreased.
Take note that skid plates come standard on the LT but are not available on the LS. These provide a lot of underbody protection and also keep the transfer case safe from damage. These are painted silver for both the front and rear of the Trax.
StabiliTrak - the vehicle's electronic stability control system - comes with traction control included. It will automatically kick in to boost control, especially during emergency maneuvers. It adjusts the engine's torque and the brakes in order to keep you inside of your lane. When the vehicle's sensors detect a discrepancy between your vehicle's intended path and where it is actually going, the system launches into action. Traction control works to detect when the wheels slip and will apply pressure from the brakes and/or decrease engine power to keep you from sliding off the road. Brake assist is included too and will give extra brake assistance if it detects you hitting the brakes hard and fast.
Now that we have covered the mechanics, let's talk about what you will see on the exterior of the Trax's two trim levels. Both come with 16-inch painted aluminum wheels and all-season blackwall tires. The LT does let you opt for either 18-inch gloss black aluminum wheels or 18-inch aluminum wheelsfinished in black with red painted accents. An acoustic laminated windshield, beltline moldings, and body-colored door handles, heated side mirrors, and liftgate applique all get included.
There is a Cargo Package available for both trim levels that has a cargo net and mat for the cargo floor. You can also choose to black-out the exterior with the proper package. Want to load up your skis or bikes? There are optional 1-1/4" receiver mounts, and all hardware is included.
The deep tinted glass that comes standard gives you extra protection from glare and sun rays. The optional Driver Confidence Package is also a good one to get equipped (although it can only be added to the LT). It has rear parking assist, side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert.
Other standard external features include intermittent front windshield wipers, halogen projector beam headlights for the LT and basic halogens for the LS, LED daytime running lights and taillights for the LT, and anthracite body side moldings.
The optional LT Convenience Package gives you keyless start and entry, a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Lifestyle Package adds a cargo tray and a carrier mount for accessories. On the LT, you can opt for the Midnight Edition, which gives you a mosaic black metallic exterior body color, 18-inch gloss black wheels, black bowtie emblems on the front and back, black front and rear skid plates, and black beltline moldings. If you like black, then this is the option for you.
Prefer red? The Redline Edition comes with the aluminum 18-inch, red-accented, black-finished wheels. It also adds the bowtie emblems done in black, mirror caps also painted black, a massive black grille and surround, red outline for the black Trax badging, and body-colored door handles.
A Premium Seat Package equips heated front seats and seating surfaces upholstered in leatherette. The Protection Package gives you all-weather floor mats for the front and rear of the cabin as well as custom molded black splash guards for the front and rear exterior.
What comes equipped inside of the Tax, aside from the aforementioned optional package features? The cabin has one 12-volt power outlet, a 120-volt power outlet that is only available on the LT, a 2-way manually-adjustable front passenger seat, a 4-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, and a 3.5-inch diagonal driver information display. 4G LTE wifi hot spot connectivity comes standard, as do a 6-speaker audio system, 60/40-split folding bench rear seat, 8-point digital compass, assist handles, lighting for the cargo area, and, in the LT, a cargo shelf.
You can also connect with Chevrolet Connected Access, and there is a 7-inch touchscreen display that comes with the infotainment system. Cruise control is available for the LS but standard on the LT. Up front, there are four cupholders while the rear gets equipped with two of them in the center armrest. Deluxe cloth/leatherette upholstery comes on the LT as an upgrade from the standard cloth on the LS.
The front passenger seatback is able to fold flat, which comes in handy if you need extra cargo space. There is also a storage area underneath that seat. An interior day/night rear-view mirror comes equipped, as does a manually tilting and telescoping steering column. There are power door locks and power windows, and you also get a rear-view camera to help with reversing maneuvers like backing into or out of a parking spot.
A trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio gets included. Also, many controls can be accessed from the steering wheel for easier use. You can use the cruise control, audio system, and phone interface with just the push of a button mounted onto the steering wheel. These controls are supposed to be intuitively placed so that your hands do not have to leave the wheel to adjust anything.
A Sport Edition can be opted for, which would give you the gloss black 18-inch aluminum wheels. You would also have the black bowtie emblems on the front and rear, the black skid plates, and the black beltline moldings.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Here you have the extent of the differences between the LS and the LT. The key to understanding the 2021 Chevrolet Trax is knowing that there are a ton of optional packages. While being able to customize is typically a good thing, on the Trax, it feels like something of a cop-out.
Let's face it: The Premier trim came with a lot of these features as standard equipment. Axing the Premier trim level meant shifting its features around. Moving them into pricey packages that can only be equipped on the LT trim does not give the vehicle much of a selling point. But, since we are being honest here, it is the only way to go.
The LS feels a little too basic, not to mention the fact that it is just outdated in general. It does not come across as giving you enough bang for your buck. The LT, when properly equipped with select optional packages, at least feels like it is trying to give you something more.
What we recommend is getting the LT with the Driver Confidence Package equipped. This way, you get the helpful driver aids that it offers in addition to the LT's respectable list of standard features. While you will have to pay more, you will at least get that added safety buffer. And we know that is what most drivers are going to be looking for as we move into the future of vehicular technology.
• Compare the 2020 Chevrolet Trax Trim Levels