Pros: Towing Capacity, Inline 6 Engine, Gas Mileage, Alloy Rims, Leather Apointed Seating
Cons: Freeway Driving, Noisy at High speeds, Tight interior space, basic Suzuki made audio player
Chevrolet introduced the Tracker in 1989 as the Geo Tracker This mini-Ute was originally manufactured in Japan for one year until 1990 when production shifted to the Canadian GM/Suzuki Joint Cami-Motors manufacturing facility. The Tracker shared its chassis with the Suzuki Sidekick/ Vitara, and for the majority of its lifespan this little truck sold quite well. The actual truck based chassis proved much better off-road then the car based mini-Utes offered by Japanese automakers. The Chevrolet tracker has seen two body styles, the 1989-93 versions has some of the worst crash test ratings seen by the IHHS. The 1999-05 model of the Tracker is a much safer vehicle, although this model is no longer in production the Tracker remains an excellent value for someone who wants a rugged little truck. Note: Tracker Production still remains in Mexico although sales are slipping.
The Chevrolet Tracker has always been marketed as a rugged alternative to the car based Utes offered by the Japanese, and the styling has always been handsome looking. Chevy offers the Tracker in Base or LT body styles, the LT option is fully loaded with running boards, fender flares, and 15-inch allow rims, and fog lights. The tracker is definitely a step above the average cute-Ute, to spice things up the Tracker comes with body colored door handles and a body colored spare tire cover. The ZX4 variant comes with grey body cladding similar to a Pontiac Aztec, and all models come with a roof rack. I think that the Tracker is definitely better looking then your average small truck, and the allow rims manage to look rugged off-road if you choose the ZX4 package.
Aspiring 2.5L 6cyl Engine
Chevrolet offers a 155-horsepower engine on the LT model of the Tracker, the engine is a V-6 offering a 1,500LB towing capacity. Because of this small engine the Tracker offers economy car like gas mileage, and the performance is stellar compared to a similarly equipped Kia Sportage for the 2000 model year. The base engine that comes with Tracker convertible models is a 2.0 liter V-6, and the base Tracker Wagon model. This 6cyl engine comes mated with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the base 2.0 liter engine comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, although you can upgrade to the four-speed as a $1000 option from the Chevrolet Dealer.
Despite the Trackers V-6 Engine, acceleration is sluggish around the city. This engine seems to chug while trying to climb hills and the LT model doesnt come with the 4WD overdrive option, the Tracker also begins to make a loud racket when approaching the redline on freeway driving conditions. The engine does seem to have a nice amount of low end torque for towing, but in regular driving conditions the Tracker isnt going to be a high performance truck. I have noticed that the lack of performance was one of the Trackers largest drawbacks among the automotive press and might of ultimately lead to the Trackers demise in America.
Engine Quality: 7/10
The Trackers V-6 has improved over the original 4 cylinder power plant, and with continuous improvements from GM and Suzuki the engine is quite reliable despite its lack of power. With ordinary maintenance these little V-6 engines can last up into the 400,000 mileage range, I have known many owners who still drive the 89 models with the original engines. While the V-6 isnt smooth, it is rugged when driving off-road conditions. The V-6 offers really good fuel economy, around the 20s which is really decent for a smaller SUV. This model was never offered in a hybrid version, and the engine is really aged feeling compared to newer smoother models, like the Trackers successor the equinox.
The four-speed automatic offered on the Tracker is a decent transmission, with regular servicing these transmissions provide years of trouble free operation. Shifting is smooth and accurate, and the manual transmission provides slightly better acceleration. The Manual Transmission also provides slightly better gas mileage, but the automatic is more efficient for long trips or freeway driving. Overall I like the Trackers automatic transmission, it has some faults like the fact it is aging, but it is still an excellent transmission for the small Ute.
Handling is where the Tracker shines; this little truck is very responsive around the corners. I was expecting such a small SUV to have excessive body roll, but the tracker manages to stay grounded quite well. The 15-inch alloy rims and all-terrain tires grip the road like a more expensive car would, I never feel intimidated when driving this Ute through foul weather. The Tracker fits right at home on the twisty canyon roads in Nevada, and this Ute can hold its own when driving through the beach with the sunroof open. Handling is one of the Trackers strong points, and I was surprised that this was one of the best aspects of the Chevrolet Tracker.
The breaking for the Tracker isnt the best that you can find on a Ute, but the brakes are responsive in city driving. These are not Brembo brakes but they manage to perform admirably on the freeway, the Trackers brakes are also very responsive while driving off-road. I think that Chevrolet actually did really good with these brakes, the ABS really adds to the Trackers safety factor, which is important when driving a mini-Ute.
on the highway: 7/10
The Tracker can get quite scary on the highway if you have never driven a mini-Ute, because of the small size the plastics inside the vehicle tend to rattle while driving at high speeds. The V-6 engine accelerates quickly when heading toward a freeway exit, but the Tracker does have a comfortable ride once you get use to the noisy engine and small size compared to other cars on the freeway. The Tracker can get a bit scary inside when passing a big semi truck but after driving for a few hours I became comfortable with the freeway experience of the Tracker. Although, I wouldnt try having a conversation inside when cruising on the freeway, things can get very noisy inside the cabin.
Fuel Economy :
The Fuel Economy of the Chevrolet Tracker is EPA: 19 City MPG/20 Hwy MPG, which is better then bigger Sport Utility Vehicles on the road. I always thought that the fuel economy was one of the Chevrolet Trackers strong suites. The Trackers V-6 Engine is as fuel efficient as most 4 Cyl engines used in older mini-Utes.
The interior styling of the Tracker is barebones to say the least, the cheap plastics used throughout the car dont fit well with an LT trim level. The interior styling features most things that you would expect in an older 4X4, such as cheap plastic knobs and basic air conditioning vents. The map lights are located right on the rearview mirror which makes turning them on when trying to adjust the mirror common in the Tracker. What really gripes me about the Tracker is the coloring inside, the styling is a basic shade of grey with a hint of black. I have seen better looking interiors in the Chevrolet Aveo, the Trackers interior seems similar to the Chevrolet Metro which met its own demise in 2001, the Tracker was a Geo in the first place (no pun intended).
Cargo storage in the Tracker is at a premium, because of the small size of this Ute there are very few actual map pockets in this car, let alone spots for your laptop or electronics. There are four reasonable sized cup holders which suite their purpose, but I dont think that you could fit a milkshake in these very easily. The radio knobs are easy to use, this stereo can also be found in the 99-04 Vitara, which is a barebones audio CD player with no iPod functionality. Reading the radio is easy, the text on the buttons is nice and clear and the neon green backlight works effectively for night driving. The leather seating is easy to clean, but this isnt the top quality leather that you would find in a Tahoe. Power Window & Lock controls can be found on the side of each passenger door, they are easy to read and quick to respond to usage.
Standard Amenities: 7/10
The Tracker LT package comes with many standard amenities such as an audio CD player and air-conditioning with climate control located above the radio. The passenger sun visor comes complete with a vanity mirror, and the 4x4 option works great for foul-weather conditions. The Tracker LT package also comes with dual airbags and leather appointed seating, 15-inch alloy rims and a roof rack are just some of the awesome things the little Ute comes with. And did I mention the sun roof? Yes, perfect for cruising up the beach.
Interior Room: 4/10
The Chevrolet Tracker falls short when it comes to interior room, the rear seating is really cramped and the front seating cannot fit a taller driver. The Cargo area of the four door wagon does have 20.2 cubic feet of space, which is acceptable but the two door convertible has considerably less. When you stow the rear seats the Trackers interior cargo space gets a boost to 44.7 cubic feet, which is a much better amount of space. The rear seating folds 60/40 which is useful if you only have one two passengers but you might need to haul something. The head room isnt bad, but as I stated this Ute might be cramped for a taller driver. Overall, the Tracker is really cramped inside and I think that this car might be better suited for a collage student then a family.
When the Tracker LT was originally listed in 2001 its MSRP was $22,800, fully loaded with 4x4 and all of the goodies that Chevrolet offered. The used model I test drove for this review was $6995, which was a great price for a used vehicle. The original warranty offered with the Tracker will be void by now, but used car dealerships usually offer a limited warranty on the vehicle.
The second generation Chevrolet Trackers was a vast improvement over the original vehicle, this little Ute has many flaws but it still offers a stylish little vehicle that is perfect for recreational purposes. The Trackers lifespan in America has unfortunately come to an end, so I would like to think of my review as a eulogy for this truck based mini-Ute. Chevrolet diehards everywhere enjoyed the off-road ability that the Tracker provided and maybe GM will decide to bring this car back in an updated form. For the long 15 year lifespan that this Ute had in America is was a decent selling truck that was simply outdone by the Japanese competition, but if you are looking for a decent American made mini-Ute that is used, check out the Chevrolet Tracker.