Probably the most under-rated sport-utility on the market, the Chevrolet Tracker, and its Suzuki counterpart, the Vitara, were redesigned in 1999. Four-door Tracker’s have a standard 127 horsepower 2.0 litre four cylinder engine, part-time four-wheel-drive, 15 inch tires, folding rear seatbacks, and a swing-out tailgate. Four-door models start at $20,890.
Improved Tracker under-rated
The Chevrolet Tracker four-door hardtop is probably the most under-rated of all the sport-utility vehicles on the market. This compact SUV offers room for five passengers, a roomy cargo area, part-time four-wheel-drive, and a very reasonable price of $20,890. That’s several thousand dollars less than comparable models from Honda and Toyota.
In addition, the Tracker can be serviced at any of the hundreds of Chevrolet dealers across the country, including those small rural towns where you’re not likely to find an import dealer.
As in previous years, the Tracker shares its two-door and four-door bodystyles with the Suzuki Vitara (formerly Sidekick) – that’s because both vehicles are built in the same GM/Suzuki CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, and come off the same assembly line.
The Tracker was completely redesigned for the 1999 model year, but it didn’t arrive in dealerships until the Summer of 1999. As a result, it was too late for 1999 and too early for 2000.
The 2000 Tracker is essentially the same vehicle, but now comes with a standard cargo cover and cargo net.
Two-Door Convertible or Four-Door Hardtop
Tracker’s come in two bodystyles: a two-door convertible and a four-door hardtop. The convertible Tracker seats four passengers, has a shorter wheelbase than the four-door model, and comes with a standard 1.6 litre four cylinder engine or an optional 2.0 litre four cylinder motor.
The four-door Tracker hardtop, the subject of this week’s Test-Drive, seats five passengers, has a bigger cargo area, and a standard 2.0 litre four cylinder engine. Unlike its Suzuki counterpart, the Tracker is not yet available with a V6 engine, but there are rumours that it will get one next year.
While the Tracker’s competitors, such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Forester, are based on car platforms and have full-time four-wheel-drive systems, the Tracker has a truck-like ladder frame, and a part-time, shift-on-the-fly 4X4 system with a Low Range gear, and a floor-mounted shift lever.
The Tracker’s truck-like layout is more popular with traditional truck buyers, and is considered to be more durable and more capable off-road than competitor’s car-like all-wheel-drive systems.
New Tracker More Refined
One of the biggest improvements over the previous generation Tracker is the revised 127 horsepower 2.0 litre twin cam 16 valve four cylinder powerplant. It’s now surprisingly quiet, as well as being more responsive. The new 2.0 litre engine has a lightweight but rigid aluminum alloy design, a new valvetrain design for improved performance, a new fuel injection system for reliability, and new hydraulic engine mounts designed to reduce vibrations.
Fuel consumption is very good for a 4X4: 10.5 litres per 100 km (27 mpg) in the city, and 8.5 litres per 100 km (33 mpg) on the highway.
I’d probably recommend the four cylinder engine even if a V6 engine was available. The four-banger has better fuel consumption and comes with a lower price-tag. A V6 is certainly smoother and quieter, but it’s necessary only if you’re planning to tow a trailer or haul heavy gear. If you are thinking of towing with the four cylinder Tracker, the maximum trailer weight is 680 kg (1500 lb.).
Tracker’s come with a standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic transmissions. I tested the automatic, and found it to be quite satisfactory in daily city and highway use.
The Tracker’s standard part-time four-wheel-drive system is for use on slippery surfaces, such as snow or gravel only. It can be shifted ‘on the fly’ into 4WD High Range at speeds up to 100 km/h, but 4X4 Low Range can only be engaged when the vehicle is stopped. The 2000 Tracker features auto-locking front hubs so you don’t have to get out and turn the hubs yourself.
Despite its tough, truck-like image, the Tracker rides and drives more like a compact car, and is extremely easy to drive around town and on the highway. With its compact dimensions, higher ride height and visibility, a tight turning circle diameter of 10.6 metres (34.8 feet), and standard power-assisted rack and pinion steering, the Tracker is an easy car to parallel park or squeeze in and out of traffic.
The Tracker’s comfortable ride is due in part to a revised five-link solid axle rear suspension with coil springs, a tighter body structure, a new reinforced boxed ladder frame, new gas shock absorbers, and different spring rates.
Interior More Contemporary
The Tracker’s simple dashboard has a contemporary, rounded look, user-friendly controls, and a centre control panel inclined towards the driver. The quality of the dashboard materials and seating upholstery has been improved over previous models.
The driver’s outward visibility is very good because of the big windows and high ride-height, however, the rear-mounted spare tire obscures vision to the rear slightly.
With the rear seats folded down, the Tracker’s roomy cargo area has 34.7 cubic feet of space, or about three times as much as a compact car’s trunk. With the rear seat cushions pulled up, and the rear seatbacks folded down, there’s a long, flat loading surface. The rear head restraints store neatly in slots provided for that purpose. A standard retractable cargo cover hides the contents of the cargo area from outside viewing.
At the rear is a swing-out tailgate. This provides a large cargo opening with a low 704 mm (27.7 in.) liftover height, however, the rear tailgate swings out towards the curb which often provides an obstacle to loading when the Tracker is parked on a city street in front of another car.
Base Price of $20,890
The four-door Tracker’s base price of $20,980 includes a standard 2.0 litre four cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, part-time four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case with Low Range, 205/75R-15 inch tires, a full-size spare tire with lock, and rear defogger. Standard interior features include power steering, AM/FM radio, split folding rear seatbacks, rear cargo cover and net, tachometer, two-speed intermittent wipers, and a skid plate under the fuel tank.
Standard safety features are dual ‘next-generation’ front airbags, front and rear adjustable head restraints, rear door child locks, and rear tether anchors.
Popular options include four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, cassette or CD player, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, alloy wheels, and rear window washer/wiper.
A well-equipped Tracker can be bought for well under $25,000 – less than the base price of many of its competitors.
More information is available at www.gmcanada.com.