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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why this off-road, Russia-only Chevy concept should come to America


Chevrolet Niva Concept
The Chevrolet Niva, a mini-SUV produced as a joint venture between GM and Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, is a beige little ute based on a Lada.
 It's an incredibly boring car in current form, but the next generation Niva concept unveiled today ahead of the Moscow auto show is a strong enough idea to make us wonder why Chevy hasn't tried something like this over here.
Even if you ditch the concept-y winch up front, knobbly tires, off-road snorkel and roof rack featuring enough lights to illuminate Norilsk, the new Niva still manages to look far more aggressive than the standard compact ute.

 If the Niva went into production with the same purposeful stance, it could be quite appealing to younger buyers. But regardless, it's only for Russian consumption.

In the United States, Chevy will soon scratch the mini-SUV itch with the Chevy Trax -- a small crossover originally designed for Europe that's currently making the rounds in Mexico and Canada. While not an inherently bad car, GM calls it a "youth-focused" vehicle.

Having sampled it, the Trax offers a lukewarm addition to a segment filled with quirky fare like the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul. So why, I ask, would a young, hip buyer want a Trax?

Back to the Niva concept: this rugged little shoebox is precisely what a buyer of that description might desire -- something fun, different and, yes, practical.

 If it came with, say, the concept-style off-road tires, it might blend the niche between folks that think the Juke is too weird and despise frogs, and those that find a Jeep Wrangler too adventurous and have never heard of Deadmau5.

The last time Chevy had a youth-focused off-roader in its dealerships? The Chevy Tracker, now more than a decade gone. Bring this new Niva to America at a starting price of around $20,000, and, maybe, Chevy would have a nice little winner for the average millennial. 

 Because, let's be honest, my grandma would drive a Trax. This way, you're catering to both parties.