The Car Connection Geo Tracker Overview
The Geo Tracker was a small sport utility vehicle sold in two generations from 1989 through 1997. The model then continued on through 2004 as the Chevrolet Tracker, after General Motors got rid of the Geo brand and brought its smaller vehicles under the Chevy brand.
All the Trackers sold in the U.S. under the Geo brand were the first-generation model, launched for 1989 as a North American version of the similar Suzuki Sidekick. It was built in Japan for its first two model years, and thereafter in Ontario, Canada. The same model was sold as a Chevrolet Tracker or GMC Tracker in Canada, where GM had not launched the Geo brand. Unlike most small utilities, the Tracker was actually built on the frame of a small truck--making it a proper SUV rather than a car-based crossover.
Two body styles were available: a two-door convertible with an open bed, and a two-door hardtop sport utility vehicle. The engine was an 80-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder, paired with a five-speed manual gearbox or an ancient three-speed automatic transmission. For its first three years, all Trackers were equipped with all-wheel drive. In 1992, a base convertible model with rear-wheel drive was introduced. Then in 1996, the two-door hardtop was replaced by a four-door hardtop, fitted with a more powerful 96-hp 1.6-liter engine and a four-speed automatic.
That four-door hardtop model previewed the upright shape of a decade's worth of compact utility vehicles; from some angles, it could almost have been mistaken for the original Subaru Forester that arrived at the same time. As the market exploded, the Geo Tracker was deemed tough and durable for its size--much more so than newly arrived crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. Its ride, however, suffered from its truck heritage, and it came to be viewed as less suitable for small families than the car-based utilities that quickly came to dominate the segment.
In 1997, General Motors folded the Geo brand altogether. For 1998, the last year of the first-generation Tracker, it was sold as the Chevrolet Tracker. Oddly, its sales suffered as a Chevy, as did those of the second-generation Chevrolet Tracker as well. The Tracker always sold better as a Geo than as a Chevy. That second-generation Tracker, available as a four-door hardtop, that lasted from 1999 to 2004. It marked the last truck-based small sport-utility vehicle sold by GM, and was replaced for the 2005 model year by the car-based Chevy Equinox crossover--which handily outsold the rough-riding Tracker.