If it seems to you that recently your purchasing power in the car market has decreased sharply, you are not wrong. After many years in which car prices rose in line with the increase in the consumer price index and the average wage in the economy, the trends began to disconnect in the last two years.
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According to the Treasury’s latest review, published this week, in 2021 and 2022, a significant real increase in new car prices was recorded. However, the report mainly refers to the year 2021, in which the exchange rate of the shekel in relation to the dollar and the euro, the main car import currencies, was strong and stable. This year, this barrier was also breached, and the weakening of the local currency increases even more the gap between the average disposable income and car prices.
The bottom line result is that the “entrance ticket” to the new car market increased by tens of thousands of shekels within three years. Those who are not satisfied with the minimum and are looking for a spacious recreational vehicle for an extended family, will find that the average price in the segment is gradually creeping towards NIS 200,000. Therefore, when the new generation of Chevrolet Trax landed here, in a “crossover” configuration with respectable external and internal dimensions, a comprehensive list of accessories and a price tag ranging from approximately NIS 150 to approximately 155 thousand, we hurried to take it for a test drive. Will salvation come from here?
Externally, the new Trax is significantly longer than the outgoing model and presents a modern, sporty-elegant design with a flowing side profile, which is emphasized by prominent wheel arches and large, handsome rims. The bow boasts a large black grill and slim and handsome LED lights, and the rear and tail are up-to-date and eye-friendly. Although the height is still a few centimeters lower than what is accepted in popular crossover models and the overall outline is reminiscent of a Subaru XV-style elevated station wagon. But the car has a relatively high interior space and at the high level of equipment we drove, with 18-inch rims and bright colors, it is definitely a handsome car, which projects the “leisure vehicle” status that Israeli customers look for and cherish.
The entrance to the cabin is quite convenient for entry and exit, although the roof height limit still requires more flexibility than in a “real” SUV. The front seats are wide, comfortable and located relatively high above the road to provide good forward visibility. Visibility to the sides and back is also uninterrupted, except in the rear-side angle. The interior space is impressive thanks to a 2.7 m long wheelbase and considerable width. The people sitting in the back enjoy a lot of space for their knees and shoulders, even if they are taller and wider than average, and the relatively flat floor improves the usability of the middle seat in the back bench and makes it possible to accommodate a third adult for short trips. Headroom, however, is less friendly for tall passengers compared to some of the vehicles on the market.
The trunk of the Trax will be welcomed by customers who usually store half the house inside the vehicle. It can swallow a load of 725 liters, one of the largest in the segment, and has a wide loading opening and a flat floor that can fit mountain bikes, lots of luggage and large IKEA cases.
Multimedia and cameras
The command line aligns with the latest fashion in the market. In the top version we drove, it included a sharp digital dashboard with nice graphics and a large multimedia screen, although rather sparse in built-in apps. The human engineering is “classic” and efficient and the designers did not sacrifice usability on the altar of fashionable minimalist design. The car has simple and clear physical switches to control the climate system, large and efficient air vents and a gear lever in a traditional configuration.
Standard equipment is reasonable, but there is no option for an electric roof or electric seats in the cabin. On the other hand, it has an effective array of active safety systems, leather-like upholstery and a decent sound system. The production quality is good, as usual in Korean-made vehicles, but the quality of the trim materials is disappointing and reflects a cost-cutting process. There are indeed interesting textures here and there, but the dominant material in the driver’s environment is rigid plastic.
engine and fuel consumption
The Trax is currently marketed all over the world, including here, with one drive system: a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine that produces 139 hp and a torque of 22.4 kgm. It’s not a particularly powerful or exciting engine, but after the deluge of electric and hybrid drives we’ve driven recently, the little engine provided a refreshing respite.
Although it is not the most powerful engine, it provides a perfectly reasonable thrust for common uses with an acceleration to 100 km/h in about 9 seconds, cruises effortlessly at high speeds on the highway and does not object to climbing to a high rpm when it is required to accelerate uphill. We have already encountered more agile and eloquent automatic transmissions, especially when downshifting, and we also regretted that there is no option to manually control the gears. And yet, we prefer this box over most of the continuously variable transmissions (CVT), which are common in the gasoline vehicle market. Three-cylinder engines are known for their economical fuel consumption, but here in vigorous driving it is difficult to extract more than ten kilometers per liter from the vehicle.
on the road
We didn’t have high expectations for the Trax’s road capability, but we were pleasantly surprised. Despite relatively soft suspensions, which were calibrated for the American market, the vehicle does not release too much body inclination in tight turns and performs quite eloquent weight transfers on winding roads. The road grip is also good and there is no doubt that part of the credit goes to wide and high-quality tires in a sporty 55′ section. The steering is not particularly fast, but it transmits enough feedback in turns and maintains a reasonable connection between the driver and the wheels. Add to that a modest curb weight of only 1.35 tons, hundreds of kilograms less than even the most modest streetcars on the market, and you got a light and pleasant vehicle to drive. The ride comfort is also quite reasonable on most types of bumps and despite the large rims.
Chevrolet Trax costs about NIS 151,000 in Israel for the base version and the more equipped version costs about NIS 155,000. In the current reality, where the starting price of family cars like Corolla and Elantra reaches NIS 160,000, this is an almost modest price, which reflects respectable and welcome value for money for a car that successfully meets most of the typical tasks. Especially for those looking for the look and utility of a spacious crossover. Although in the United States its price starts at about 26 thousand dollars, which gives one dimension to the term “value for money”, but here it is not the United States.
Some of the competitions
Subaru XV Crosstrek
The latest entry-level version of Subaru’s XV costs NIS 160,000. The vehicle is equipped with dual drive and a ventral space that allows off-road driving. The engine produces 152 hp
Subaru XV Crosstrek / Photo: Yeh’ach
Draft Corolla Cross
The starting version of the Corolla Cross costs NIS 172,000. The drive is an economical hybrid with a 1.8-liter engine with a capacity of 140 hp and a continuous automatic transmission.
Draft Corolla Cross / Photo: Yeh’ach