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LAKE ARROWHEAD, California — There’s no place in the country that is more sport-ute crazy than L.A. This is where the light mini-SUV craze started, for Angelenos’ sake. What better place to check out the latest iteration from the folks that started it all — Suzuki and Chevrolet?
For 1999, the Tracker (and its identical twin, the Suzuki Vitara) has been redesigned from the ground up; only a few components carry over from previous models. Some years back, Chevrolet took the easy route into mini-utedom and went to their foreign partner Suzuki to get the original Tracker. Now in this iteration, Chevrolet has taken a major role in the redesign process.
Initially there was only the two-door Tracker, reflecting the beach, youth and fun image. As the sport-utility market moved from rough-riding off-roaders to more urban use, suspensions were softened and more features associated with comfort added. To wit, the Tracker now has four doors and fills the bottom niche of the family sport-utility market — it’s even become a viable alternative to a small station wagon.
Motoring mini-ute style
The two-door Tracker comes with a 1.6-liter SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine that delivers a solid 97 hp. Four-door models feature the 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine with 127 hp. (The bigger engine is also optional on two-door models.) Safety has been addressed by the build in rollover structure, dual air bags and anti-lock brakes.
The four-door doubtless will get the Tracker more sales exposure, and with its canvas top over the sunroof area and over the rear seats, the two-door will get more beach exposure. One thing Chevrolet wishes it had for Tracker is the V-6 that Suzuki offers in the Grand Vitara — at present, the Tracker will only be offered with four-cylinder engines.
1999 Chevrolet Tracker 5- 17-99
The Tracker’s interior boasts a lot of cubby holes and bins, but the seats are a little narrow for wide American behinds.