My sister traded in her 1995 Chevrolet Blazer in for a 2003 Tracker. Now she chose me to go on this escapade with her, to find a suitable replacement. We are a GM family, which gets the GM discount, so we looked at pretty much all the SUV's GM offers, within the $17,000-$21,000 price range. We looked at the Saturn VUE, and Pontiac Aztek, and Vibe, and they were all very nice, but she really wanted another SUV that had 4-Wheel drive, for her commute to work in the winter which travels over some very remote, and wooded area's, where the snow trucks rarely go. Few other SUV's offered this, most have switched to AWD. It was more of a comfort factor to her, and I tried to get her to go for an AWD Aztek or VUE, but something about that little 4WD knob made her happy. She bought the Tracker. The tracker had a very Blazer feel to it, which made it more cozy for us both. The coziness quickly went away about a month later when the whole "New Car" excitement wore off.
The tracker....is small. You can cram a lot of cargo into the back with the seats down, but nevertheless, driving it, is not comfortable. I borrowed her Tracker for a week to go on a road trip with some friends, from Indiana to Florida, a 16 hour trip, and by the time we got to Florida, I wanted to sell the Tracker and buy a plane ticket home. The seats, feel like they're made of concrete. Every bump or pebble you hit on the road, goes straight into your body. Legroom in the back was horrifying, according to my 2 friends that endured the back seat for the whole trip. Driver legroom wasn't exactly a picnic either....I'm a tall guy, and my knee's would occasionally hit the steering column.
One of the good factors is the field of view. The whole top half of the vehicle is windows...so it was bright and airy the whole trip, and I didn't encounter any blind spots. Before the trip I took the headrests off the back seat, because when they're on, you can't see out the back window. Also, the defroster was terrible. It would clear little patches of condensation off the windows, leaving visibility to a minimum. The tailgate opens like a door, on a hinge, and doesn't drop down, which is a poor design element, especially in tight parking lots when you're loading and unloading, and you get trapped.
One of the cool features about it, is it has this little "POWER" button, next to the shifter, and when you're going up a steep hill, you push the button, and it compensates for the incline, so you don't have to push the accelerator real hard. The air conditioner worked like a dream too, it cooled off the entire car quickly, after baking in the sun in Florida. It has an overall sporty feel, and I enjoy driving it short distances, but this is definitely not vehicle made for traveling.
One last note about the 4WD, I had the pleasure of driving the Tracker in 6 inch deep snowfall, and the roads were still somewhat slushy. Even when the 4WD is on...the car slips and slides, and has no connection to the ground. It was a frightening experience. Combine that with the shoddy defroster...and you have yourself a winter nightmare on wheels. The Automatic V6 model she bought gets up to speed fairly quick, even quicker if you have the POWER button on, even if you're not on an incline. But when you get to about 60-70 MPH, the car has a noticeable shimmy and vibration to it. The gas mileage was decent, it's not going to win any points in my book. Her previous Blazer got around 15-19 MPG, the Tracker got slightly better than that, more along the lines of 17-21 MPG, which I found out on the road trip we took. The engine itself wasn't particularly noisy, but the bad aerodynamic design of the vehicle gives you a LOT of wind noise.
All in all, its a fun, cute, and sporty SUV, that is functional and durable. But it's is definitely not designed for long trips or hazardous road conditions.
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