I'm not the kind of guy who turns down flying to San Diego for a media launch on Monday with a return home on Tuesday despite already having flights booked to San Francisco on Wednesday. Maybe I should be, but I'm not.
This was part of a December of barnstorming back and forth across the country with carmakers that isn't over yet. Over a 10-day period, I flew to and from California twice and Reno/Lake Tahoe once. I still have a round trip to Austin to squeeze in before heading to Christmas in New Mexico. All of this while trying to make a little money and finish the construction on a new shed. It's been a stressful and busy December.
My San Diego overnighter was with Chevrolet and its all-new small crossover, Trax. This is about the only segment in which Chevy wasn't represented. Well, it is now.
|Friends don't let friends drink Stone Beers.|
I arrived in time for lunch at Stone Brewery from which the ride and drives were staged. Anyone who knows me realizes this wasn't a pleasant experience for me. I am convinced that Stone is the great Satan of breweries. Have you seen its logo? After the stunt it pulled in South Carolina, I have nothing but animosity toward it. Here's the brief 411: Stone came to South Carolina with the promise that if laws were changed that permitted breweries to serve beer on site, it would establish its east-coast beachhead brewery in South Carolina. Getting this done involved a lot of SC movers and shakers, but get it done they did. Things moved right along and reached a point where a couple of local brewers in the know were convinced Stone had chosen Greenville as the site. “It's a done deal,” one of them told me. Apparently, though, no one at Stone had bothered to look at a globe until months into the process because suddenly it announced that SC wasn't central to the east coast, and it was now considering Ohio. What? I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but wouldn't determining what is a central location be the first step in such a process? What a collection of jerks. The last I heard, the clowns at Stone have since made another 180, choosing Richmond, VA as the site. I can just imagine some blindfolded doofus in Stone's executive offices tossing a dart at an east-of-the-Mississippi map.
So, I no longer drink Stone beers. I had a Stone shirt that I pitched in the trash after lining my cat's litter box with it. And, on my GreenvilleInsider Web site, I have a policy statement on the home page that reads: “Friends don't let friends drink Stone beers.”
In any event, I wasn't happy being in the belly of the beast. But it was a terrific opportunity to put a few miles on Chevrolet's new crossover.
A global vehicle, Trax has been on sale in some regions for a while. It's built in South Korea. Chevy offers it in three trim levels with one engine-transmission combo: a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged four and a six-speed automatic tranny. Pricing begins at $20,995 for the base LS that includes the MyLink infotainment interface with a seven-inch touchscreen, as well as 10 airbags, rearview camera, full power accessories and an iPod interface. It gets 34 mpg on the highway.
Things can get pricey. One of the versions I drove was a top-of-the-heap LTZ with AWD that priced out at $27,430 with its $900 worth of options. Of course, it was packed with all sorts of goodies.
A few other things worth knowing: All trim levels come with OnStar 4G LTE which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot. AWD is available across the trim spectrum for $1,500. Rear-park assist, a Bose seven-speaker audio system, power sunroof, heated outboard mirrors and heated front seats are available or standard on specific trim levels.
The driving routes weren't particularly challenging, but did reflect the driving environment most people will find themselves in when piloting around a Trax. Without raising the bar, it is fairly quiet and comfortable. It can go toe to toe with more established competitors like Nissan's Juke.
After about three hours of driving, my driving partner and I headed to the Hotel Palomar, where Chevy boarded us. Located downtown on 5th Avenue, it is a 20-floor hotel that is modern and friendly. I didn't spend much time there other than to sleep. The product presentation was in its pool area, but otherwise, it was a blur.
Chevy hosted dinner that evening at the trendy Searsucker Restaurant. The food was excellent. It also served one of the better beers I've ever had: Belching Beaver Brewery's Peanut Butter Stout. Oh, lordy, it was good.
A whirlwind trip: I was in Chevrolet's hands all of 18 hours, but it was well worth it; well other than that Stone Brewery element.