New Car Review

1998 CHEVROLET TRACKER 4DR 4WD

by Matt/Bob Hagin

chevrolet

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 15,605
Price As Tested                                    $ 19,156
Engine Type                SOHC 4-valve 1.6 Liter I4 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                  97 cid/1591 cc
Horsepower                                    95 @ 5600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                                98 @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                   97.6"/64.4"/158.7"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     2768 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  14.5 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/75R15
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Four-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            23/26/23
0-60                                             12 seconds
Towing capacity                                 1500 pounds
Top speed                                            90 mph
   * Multi-port fuel injection

(Sport/utility vehicles of all sizes are popular from the huge Chevy Suburban to its tiny sibling, the Chevrolet Tracker. Bob Hagin jokes that the Tracker could almost fit in the cargo space of the Suburban, but son Matt says that the tiny-bopper can stand on its own merits.)

BOB - Any size SUV is almost a national craze right now, and the current crop of mini-SUV's just proves my point. Chevrolet has put the Chevy "bow-tie" emblem on the nose of the Geo Tracker twins, so it now has a full stable of 4X4s. The Tracker comes as a two-or-four door, with either 2WD or 4WD. It's too bad the company doesn't offer a couple of optional engines in the Tracker line. At 95 horsepower, both of the Tracker models are a little short in the pony-power department.

MATT - The Tracker isn't a Suburban, Dad, and it doesn't really need stump-pulling power to complete the job. It's a comfortable four-door people-carrier with room inside for two adults and a couple of kids, and it provides all the creature comforts of a conventional small sedan. It has power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, cruise control and an anti-lock braking system. There's lots of glass for a panoramic view from inside, and you sit up high enough to see over the tops of most other vehicles. And although our test rig came with a more-fun five-speed manual transmission, there's an automatic four-speed available as well. To keep the Tracker in 4WD for an extended period of time, it can be done through a manual system that wasn't available when these machines were called Geos. Now, when you switch "on-the-fly" from 2WD to 4WD, then back to 2WD again, and your Tracker has the optional automatic locking hubs, it's no longer necessary to stop the vehicle, then back up a few feet to unlock the hubs when you don't need 4WD anymore. That means when we're going skiing and there's traffic behind us, we won't have to pull over to the side to unlock hubs when the road surface alternates between dry and snow-covered. It happens quite a bit during the winter when we drive vehicles without the automatic hubs.

BOB - It seems that all you ever think about is skiing, Matt, especially when we get ski machines during the winter. I read somewhere that the people who buy SUVs for snow country outnumber off-roaders more than ten-to-one. But if the urge to do a little boulder-climbing is too hard to resist, I noticed that Chevy has added a steel skid plate under the fuel tank. This would avoid running out of gas after puncturing the fuel tank on a sharp boulder. And for the nervous types, Chevy provides a pair of optional skid plates that fit under the two-speed transfer case and front differential housing.

MATT - Our Tracker came with standard steel wheels rather than the optional alloy rims. I think that alloys are a waste on a vehicle like this and the extra $365 would be better spent on a family ski vacation. The Tracker is assembled in Canada and comes into this country classified as a truck, which is a good description of how strong it's built. It has a ladder-type frame with a solid axle in back and an independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front. It's certainly no lightweight at 2700 pounds - even with a tiny all-aluminum 1.6 liter four-valve, four cylinder engine. I was surprised that for a small vehicle, it has a pretty good tow rating of 1500 pounds. That's enough to pull a small boat or camp trailer, but to pull anything larger, it could use a little more power.

BOB - If you want to tow like the big boys, Matt, you'd better be driving a Blazer, Tahoe or Suburban. Those vehicles start at 5000 pounds towing capacity for the Blazer, all the way up to a mammoth 10,000 pounds for the 4X4 Suburban with the huge 454 engine. Now that's what I call a tow rig! I found a couple of items in the press kit that we got with the Tracker 4X4 that were kind intriguing to me, Matt. Roadside Courtesy Care is available for three years or 36,000 miles. I wonder just how comprehensive that "roadside" coverage is?

MATT - I know what you're thinking, Dad. You're aching to re-trace the Baja 1000 event you did in 1967, but I don't think Chevrolet would rescue you if the Tracker you were driving broke down in the desert.

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