The Tracker was a mini-SUV sold under Chevrolet and Geo badges, and was produced by CAMI Automotive at Ingersoll, Ontario in Canada. Although it appeared compact, the SUV was actually certified as a light truck due to its off-road capabilities and relatively huge cargo room. While GM sold the Tracker under the name Geo for nine years, the company decided to move it under Chevrolet in 1999. This was during the rise of the “buy American” trend in the late ‘90s, when a lot of Americans patronized their home brands. Under the Chevrolet nameplate, the second-generation Tracker was redesigned, though it continued to be produced in Canada alongside its Suzuki Vitara twin.
First generation: 1989 to 1998
The Tracker was introduced in late 1988 as a 1989 model and continued to be sold under the Geo nameplate until 1997. As a joint venture between General Motors of Canada and Suzuki, all North American Tracker models were built by CAMI at its Ingersoll plant.
The mini-SUV was originally powered by Suzuki’s 1.6-liter SOHC four-cylinder engine producing 80 hp (60kW). Its trim levels were base convertible, base two-door hardtop, and LSi hardtop. The base models offered a little more than cloth seats and power brakes. Meanwhile, the LSi came with three-speed GM Turbo-Hydramatic 180 automatic transmission. It also had special red/black front and rear bucket seats, chrome rally wheels, and spare tire cover to name a few.
In 1998, GM dropped the Geo brand and sold the Tracker under the Chevrolet badge. As for the trim levels, the LSi had been discontinued too, but its equipment became available for the base models.
Second generation: 1999 to 2004
A year after dropping Geo, the second generation of Chevrolet Tracker was introduced as a better-looking vehicle, differing from the Suzuki Grand Vitara. The designers at Chevrolet made a smoothly sculpted modern shape to replace the rough, blocky body of the first-generation hardtop. Changes to the outside dimensions were mostly minor save for a 2.1-inch increase in width. This made room for a third seatbelt in the rear that a small child could fit in. Because the rear seat is farther back, the legroom was increased, but the cargo space shrunk from 21 cubic feet to 20. While production of the new Tracker continued in Canada, some units were actually made at a Suzuki plant in Kosai, Japan.
However, because the 1999 and newer models reverted to a lightweight automobile-type rack and pinion steering, the Tracker lost its reputation as an off-road vehicle. Enthusiasts thought that the rack and pinion can be easily damaged and expensive to repair. This might have been one of the reasons to the decreasing Tracker sales from 2000 to 2003. In 2004, the Chevrolet Tracer was discontinued in the United States and Canada.