Small cars with all-wheel drive are an increasingly popular offering from automakers eager to boost their overall fuel efficiency while providing a feature that more and more buyers demand.
Now Chevy has jumped into the game, with the 2015 Chevrolet Trax it launched last week at the New York Auto Show.
It's subcompact in size, and somewhere between a hatchback, a crossover, and a small wagon. But while it's built on the same underpinnings as the Chevrolet Sonic hatchback and sedan, if offers the all-wheel drive that's not available on those models.
Chevrolet expects sales in the small-SUV segment to grow by more than 80 percent by 2016, according to Alan Batey, a Global Chevrolet senior vice president.
If the Trax looks naggingly familiar, that's because it's been seen before.
It's essentially the same vehicle as the Buick Encore introduced for the 2013 model year, with somewhat plainer interior fittings and presumably a price lower than the Buick's base of just under $25,000.
While there are detail differences in the sheetmetal, the shapes are all but identical--as is the understructure.
Chevrolet has been building the Trax over the same period, but while it's sold in both Canada and Mexico, it hasn't been offered in the U.S. until now. (The Buick version is also sold in Europe as the Opel Mokka.)
2015 Chevrolet TraxEnlarge Photo
In the States, it will compete with the very successful Subaru XV Crosstrek and other all-wheel-drive subcompacts in the segment, including the current MINI Cooper Countryman and Nissan Juke, and the upcoming 2015 Honda HR-V and 2015 Jeep Renegade.
It may also be a competitor for the new 2014 Kia Soul, although that "tall wagon" does not offer all-wheel drive.
The 2015 Trax is powered by a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, driving the front or all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive is optional, as it is on the Buick version.
No EPA ratings have been issued for the 2015 Trax, but the 2014 Encore is rated at 28 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway) in front-wheel-drive form; adding AWD cuts the rating to 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway).
On our test drive of a loaded $33,000 AWD Encore more than a year ago, we exceeded the EPA rating.
The Chevy Trax will offer a 7-inch color touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free, a built-in WiFi hotspot, and OnStar 4G LTE for connectivity.
It will be fitted with 10 airbags as standard, including what Chevy says is the only rear-seat thorax bag in the segment.
The 2015 Chevrolet Trax is built in both Mexico and South Korea; full specifications, trim levels, and pricing will be released closer to its on-sale date early next year.
For all the news and photos of new and updated vehicles, see our New York Auto Show index page.