Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2022 Chevy Trax is shown driving on a city street after leaving a Chevrolet dealer.

What Is Chevy’s Best Car for New Drivers?

What is the best car in the Chevrolet lineup for starter drivers? Well, you honestly cannot go wrong with the Chevy Trax. Some people might argue that it’s small or underpowered, but in reality, it’s one of the best starter vehicles out there, especially for a Chevy. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons why, and we’ll actually go over them here in this article, breaking down the benefits and the pros of opting for a Trax over other vehicles at a Chevrolet dealer.

When it comes to picking the best model in a Chevy lineup, it has a lot to do with what you plan on using it for and how you plan on driving it. For starter drivers, in particular, opting for something affordable and reliable is usually the best way to go, especially when you don’t have a lot to work with when it comes to your budget. While many new drivers choose older used cars to keep costs down, a newer car won’t cost you an arm and a leg when it comes to regular maintenance.

Is the Trax Affordable for Starter Drivers?

In short, yes. The Trax is very affordable for starter drivers. One of the biggest deciding factors for most people just starting out shopping for a new vehicle is price. You cannot think about buying a vehicle without thinking about the price. If price wasn’t an issue, then everyone would buy hypercars and call it a day, but in the real world, your budget decides what you can afford, what you can maintain, and what will work best for your lifestyle.

The benefit of the Trax is that whether you opt for a brand-new model year or a used model, it’s very economical. Even a brand-new, fully-loaded Trax costs under $25,000. In fact, you can get a 2022 model year, brand-new, for only $21,400. This makes the Trax a very attractive option for those shopping for a brand-new vehicle on a budget. If you wanted something with warranties, guarantees, and that new car smell, the price of the Trax is exceptionally attractive.

Even if you wanted something above the starter trim, the Trax still keeps the price relatively low. For instance, you have the upgraded LT trim and the special Sport Edition and Midnight Edition if you want to get something with a little more panache and style upfront. But even with the Midnight Edition, the Trax still only tops out at $24,120 with all of the comfort and tech features included. This makes the Trax a very enticing option for those on a tight budget who want a brand-new vehicle, especially given that the top-end cost of the Trax is lower than the starting costs of some other nameplates.

A black 2018 Chevy Trax is shown driving on a city street at night.

Should I Buy a Used Trax as a Starter Vehicle?

Sure. When it comes to shopping for the best model you can get for your budget from a Chevrolet dealer, it doesn’t always mean buying brand-new. Sometimes the best option is a used option. With the Trax, the price drops down drastically when it comes to buying used. In fact, you can find many used models for under $15,000. Yes, you can get a Trax for that cheap, or maybe even cheaper depending on if you shop around at various dealers near or far for the right kind of model.

But is a used model something you really want to go with when it comes to a Chevy Trax? If budget is a big deal for you and you absolutely cannot spend over a specific amount, then yes…used is definitely a good way to go. Now, this does bring rise to the question of quality. More specifically, how much will you be spending on maintenance to keep a used Trax up and running? Well, annual maintenance will depend on the age and mileage of the vehicle, and if you’re willing to do a little under-the-hood work yourself, you can actually reduce the annual costs by a significant amount.

Another alternative is opting for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) model. What is Certified Pre-Owned? Well, to be classified as CPO, a used Chevy must be within six years of the model year’s release and have fewer than 75,000 miles on it. You also get the benefit of a 172 multi-point inspection, a free vehicle history report, roadside assistance, OnStar support, and a courtesy maintenance program. Rounding things out, a CPO model comes with both a 12-month or 12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and an additional factory-backed six-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. Essentially you get all of the guarantees and coverage of a brand-new model at the price of a used model. For someone just starting out, a CPO Trax is a secure and safe way to ensure you don’t end up with a lemon when buying used.

Is the Trax Easy to Handle for Starter Drivers?

StabiliTrak may be a standard across every major GM vehicle out there, but it means something a little different for SUVs. In the case of a subcompact SUV like the Chevy Trax, it gives the vehicle a little extra value over, say, a Chevy Malibu or Spark. Why? Well, it’s all about the handling. With the Trax, you have the option of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and this makes a huge difference in terms of where and how you can drive the Trax.

While cars like the Malibu are also good starter vehicles, the slightly higher ride height and shorter wheelbase for the Trax means that it is more comfortable and easier to maneuver. Plus, with all-wheel drive, you can take the Trax off-road with far fewer issues than the Malibu. If you’re an avid camper, hiker, or outdoor adventurer, the Trax is just the overall better option, especially in all-wheel drive. Not only that, but if you regularly have to drive through sleet, snow, dirt, or ice, once again, the all-wheel drive and StabiliTrak make the SUV a very good option. However, this might lead some of you to the next question…

A Starter SUV vs a Popular SUV

“Why not just get an Equinox or Blazer then?” and that’s a very good question. If you want an SUV, why not go for one that’s as stylish as the Blazer or as functional and popular as the Equinox? Well, there are a couple of reasons why the Trax is the better option for those just starting out with the car shopping process and those who are beginner drivers or just getting their feet wet with vehicular ownership. For one thing, there’s the size issue.

The Chevy Blazer is a midsize SUV, and the Equinox is a compact SUV. Both of those are larger than the subcompact Trax. What that means is that they have a longer wheelbase, which gives you more interior volume for passengers and cargo, but they are also longer and weigh more, which means they’re a little more difficult to handle on the road. Plus, with the Trax being a subcompact, it makes it a lot easier to parallel park, fit into tight spaces, and navigate busy urban intersections.

The other thing to consider is that the Trax has better fuel economy than its larger SUV brethren. The 2022 Trax gets up to 24 MPG in the city and up to 32 MPG on the highway. There’s really no competing with those figures, as the Blazer and Equinox––despite offering good mileage for their size––will require more fill-ups by comparison. And if you’re just starting out, it just makes more sense to go with the vehicle that’s easier to handle and gives you better fuel economy so you can save more cash at the pump.

An orange 2016 Chevy Trax is shown parked in front of a shop.

A Good Starter Starts With the Trax

Keep in mind that this isn’t to say that the Trax is the be-all, end-all of Chevy vehicles. It fits a very specific purpose for a very specific segment of the automobile market. If you need something safe, reliable, affordable, and economical, you go with a Trax. It’s easy to handle, so you’re less likely to lose control. It has front-wheel and all-wheel drive, so if you want the extra traction and stability control, it’s available. Plus, if you want factory guarantees at used-car prices, you can opt for a CPO Trax and get both. If you were looking to visit a Chevrolet dealer for your very first starter vehicle on a tight budget, the Trax is an easy recommendation.