The Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav-4 used to be the entry-level size for sport utility vehicles. These cute-‘utes were often thought of as “too small” for American car buyers, but that has proven false as the segment is now hot. As people in North American markets adapt to the smaller tall wagons offered in the marketplace more and more automakers are starting to see that the CRV and RAV-4 will soon be considered “Mid-size” sport utes by the buying public. Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia have all added smaller tall wagons and now GM is creating a new vehicle for global sale called the Chevrolet Trax.
Subaru Forester Model
Tall wagons such as the Subaru Outback, Subaru Forester, and other vehicles like them were for a long time favorites of automakers because they were able to be classified as “Light Trucks” and thus they received favorable consideration in CAFE calculations. They also used almost all of the underpinnings of their stable mates like the Legacy and Impreza. Thus, they were cost effective and economies of scale savings were possible. These small utes were originally marketed as “soft-roaders” because they often had all-wheel drive. This marketing later morphed into positioning these vehicles as "city cars" as more and more drivers began to enjoy the taller ride height and suspensions built for off road that could handle city streets destroyed by potholes. Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of Product Development says “The Trax provides Chevrolet an entry into a growing small SUV segment and delivers the flexibility, great fuel economy and car-like handling that urban explorers around the world require.”
Chevy Trax Is a Global Car
In a press release GM says that the "global" Trax will first be offered in Mexico and Canada, but that due to the popularity of the Chevy Equinox there are no plans to market the Trax in the US. That often translates to “the Trax is not going to be made by the US Autoworkers, so the union will not allow GM to sell it in the US market." However, this is often worked out in later deals to keep the jobs that might have been lost in the Equinox plant.
This new vehicle by GM reminds us that if you want to know which way the SUV market is headed you can just look at the Trax.