SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 21,230 Price As Tested $ 22,845 Engine Type DOHC 24-valve 2.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 152 cid/2499 cc Horsepower 155 @ 6500 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 160 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 97.6"/67.3"/162.8" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3162 pounds Fuel Capacity 17.4 gallons Tires (F/R) P215/70R15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABD)/drum (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/20/18 0-60 MPH 10.0 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1200 pounds Maximum towing capacity 3000 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
BRENDAN - The little Chevrolet Tracker sport/utility vehicle has been a solid seller in the competitive compact SUV market. In the new and improved 2001 version, I think that it's going to make an even bigger impact. It's made by Suzuki for GM and it gave Chevrolet easy entry into the mini-SUV market. The new Tracker four door we tested this week has a fairly roomy cabin and peppy acceleration to boot. The Tracker comes in three levels of trim, the Base, LT, and ZR2. We tested the LT four-wheel drive version with the V6 powerplant and we were happy with what we found. Its 2.5-liter engine produced 155 horsepower and 160 pound feet of torque and it held it's own on city streets although its choppy on the highway. A four-speed automatic transmission is the only one offered on the V6, and while it was acceptable, we would have liked a five-speed manual for snappier pick up and engine speed control. The four-cylinder version offers a stick-shift so maybe we'll get to try to get it next.
MIKELE - I liked the way the Tracker handled, and I didn't get that top-heavy feeling that I feel in some other small SUV's. It performed well in turns, and the press kit says that the suspension has been upgraded for '01 with retuned MacPherson struts and computer-selected coil springs that give it a smoother ride. We didn't get a chance to go four-wheeling on the family property but it was great around town. It has all the accouterments of a luxury off-roader with automatic locking front hubs, a manual 2-speed shift-on-the-fly transfer case, and a skid plate and fuel tank shield for climbing through the underbrush and over creek beds without underbody scrapes and dents.
BRENDAN - I liked the roominess of the Tracker's interior. It has enough legroom for a big guy like me, and enough cargo space for our monthly big shopping spree at the supermarket. Leather seats are available and I liked it except I tend to stick to it in hot weather when I'm wearing shorts. A lumbar support was lacking, however, and one would have been appreciated during long highway runs. The good looking cabin felt airy and the instruments are easy to read. The sound system was good, but the AM/FM stereo with compact disc player could use more bass and a few more speakers. I guess I'm getting spoiled with the luxury car systems that we've been driving. Some of them have so many tweeters and woofers and watts of power that it's like being at a front-row table at a small jazz club.
MIKELE - You musicians are all alike, Bren. But our pups enjoyed the Tracker, especially when we let down the split-folding rear seats. They hid under the cargo-area security cover and wouldn't come out on command so they'll be missing the next few tests as punishment. The manufacturers that lend us these cars will probably be glad to know that but hauling the dogs is all part of our real-life car test. I was impressed with the exterior of the Tracker, and ours featured lots of the SUV goodies GM offers as accessories. A front brush guard added to its already rugged outer body and it helps prevent punctures or damage to the front grille when the driver is negotiating off-road trails. Side running boards are helpful in getting in and out gracefully which can be tricky in a skirt. The Tracker has a flowing, lowered look and the fifteen-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels give it a high-dollar SUV appearance.
BRENDAN - Safety features are always a big deal with SUV buyers, Mikele, and they're an important factor when a shopper is looking for features that make for a practical family vehicle. Driver and right front-passenger airbags are standard on all models, and our tester featured anti-lock brakes as well, although I'd have preferred disk brakes in back as well as in front. Items like the remote keyless entry provides for a quick entrance if you need to get in your vehicle fast and that's something that's essential when you're in a big city late at night.
MIKELE - Brendan, you said that we wouldn't be going to those sleazy jazz clubs anymore.