Friendly as Fido, the unpretentious little Tracker sport-ute places its emphasis on the utility part of its vehicle classification: a practical, durable runabout that is infinitely easy to fit into parking places and bang around town in, with occasional forays into woods or desert. It’s definitely to be treated as a member of the family that wants to please people, and needs no special care beyond feeding with fuel now and then.
Dramatically redesigned last year, the 2000 version has little new to add aside from a few metallic colors. Everyone was hoping to see a larger engine this year but Chevrolet will not budge from powering the Tracker with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder until 2001. On the plus side, the 2.0-liter engine in my four-door test car, with 127 horsepower, passed muster on dirt trails in a national park but, with two-wheel drive, I wouldn't take it down into canyons to straddle boulders or ford the rapids although it has an eight-inch ground clearance and a steel fuel tank shield plate.
Weekend camping, yes, because this sturdy compact has cargo space for the basic needs if you don't bring a six-person tent or six persons, and in the middle of a meadow there's no one to whack when you open the tailgate door that swings out to the right. Downtown, you'd probably hit a pedestrian or two.
The four-wheel drive model has a shift-on-the-fly system that allows you to shift in and out at any speed below 60 mph. The two-speed transfer case has four-wheel low gearing that aids grip on uneven terrain. My tester had a four-speed automatic transmission, which costs extra. The standard is a five-speed manual with a fifth gear overdrive.
2000 Chevrolet Tracker interiorEnlarge Photo