Chevrolet executives readily admit they were a little late to the rapidly escalating small crossover/sport-utility game, sending the Trax into the fray in 2014 as a 2015 model. Essentially a democratized

version of the Buick Encore -- about $4000 less, trim for trim -- the Trax has performed well in the U.S. racking up 63,303 sales in 2015, its first full year in this market. In another era, that kind of sales performance could easily provoke complacency for a carmaker -- a hint of mañana-is-good-enough-for-me in product planning, and a bit of thrift among the finance troops. It ain’t broke, let’s save some dough. But those attitudes are rare today, especially in the small ute segment which vacillates between merely hot and incandescent. And it is thus that Chevy’s Chicago show displays included a restyled Trax.

New Clothes

The front end sheetmetal is new on the Trax. Its recast grille echoes the stacked look of other recent Chevrolet releases, with a narrow opening at the top that stretches across the front to merge into new halogen headlamps that wrap around into the front fenders. In the LS trim the lamps are reflectors, while LT and the new-for-2017 Premier trims get halogen projector beams. The updated rear fascia includes dual taillamps -- LED units on the Premier model -- which is further distinguished by new 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Expansive Dash

Inside, the instrument panel has been redesigned with a sweeping upper dashboard that visually expands the sense of interior space. There’s also a bright new tachometer-speedometer combo straddling a digital info readout. A new 7.0-inch color touchscreen fills the center dash, reminiscent of other new Chevys and the medium for Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system.

Like every new vehicle coming along these days, the Trax boasts enhanced connectivity, including the availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as GM’s 4G LTE wireless hotspot technology. In vehicles so equipped, Trax travelers can connect as many as seven personal electronic devices -- tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc. -- interesting in a vehicle that can accommodate no more than five passengers (provided one is a hobbit).

In addition to a standard rearview camera and new keyless unlocking and starting options, the 2017 Trax will offer several new model-specific safety features including Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. Automatic braking, however, is not on the menu.

Easy does it

The 2017 updates don’t extend to the powertrain. The same 1.4-liter turbo four --138 horsepower, 148 pound-feet of torque -- sends thrust to either the front or all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Trax curb weights don’t go much over 3,300 pounds, even with all-wheel drive. Nevertheless, acceleration will likely continue to be tepid, with the 60 mph sprint consuming over 9 seconds. On the other hand, subcompact utes aren’t known for their blazing getaways when the light turns green.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2017 model aren’t available yet, but will likely be the same as those for the current Trax -- 24 mpg city, 31 highway with all-wheel drive. While pricing has not been released, the 2017 Trax will begin appearing in Chevy showrooms this fall.

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.