Whatever Happened to the Chevy Tracker?
The Chevrolet Tracker was the iconic American brand’s first subcompact SUV. However, it wasn’t always a Chevy in the U.S., and it was sold worldwide under many other names. Find out where the Chevy Tracker came from and what happened to this mini SUV.
Where did the Chevy Tracker come from?
Before the Chevy Tracker was a Chevy, it was a Geo. Geo was a sub-brand of Chevrolet launched by General Motors for the 1989 model year. It was GM’s effort to compete with small imports. GM partnered with Japanese manufacturers like Suzuki, Toyota, and Isuzu to sell foreign designs under a new American marque focused on value-oriented small cars.
The Tracker was part of the debut class of models from Geo alongside the Metro, the Prizm, and the short-lived Spectrum. The Metro was based on the Suzuki Cultus, the Prizm was based on the Toyota Corolla, and the Spectrum was based on the Isuzu Gemini.
So, what was the Geo Tracker based on? Off-road enthusiasts know the Tracker was a repackaged Suzuki Vitara. However, the U.S.-market Geo Tracker was built in the CAMI plant in Ontario, Canada, which also made the Metro. The Geo Tracker was a mini SUV with a truck-like platform and available four-wheel drive. The Tracker was a surprisingly good off-roader like the early generations of the Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4, which both arrived in the mid-1990s. Because the Geo Tracker’s success partially inspired those two SUVs, the humble Tracker played a small role in kicking off the now wildly popular small-SUV segment.
How did the Tracker become a Chevy?
The Geo brand shut down in 1997, but the Tracker sold well enough that General Motors wanted to keep it alive. So, it rebranded the SUV as the Chevy Tracker. The Metro and Prizm got similar rebrandings, but GM discontinued them at the end of their respective generations.
However, the Tracker had a brighter future. In 1999, the second-generation Chevy Tracker came out. Although it was modernized and designed more for road use, it was still a pretty good off-roader and retained its fair share of quirks. To enthusiasts’ delight, the Tracker was still available with a two-door body and a removable top.
When did they stop making the Chevy Tracker?
As the market shifted away from two-door off-road SUVs in favor of more car-like crossovers, Chevrolet discontinued the Tracker in the U.S. in 2004. However, it endured into the late-2000s in some foreign markets, including Brazil and Mexico.
Is the Tracker related to the Trax?
The most affordable new Chevy model is the Trax. This car-like crossover has four doors and front-wheel drive. It effectively replaces the economy cars that Chevrolet phased out, like the Sonic and the Spark.
Today’s Chevy Trax has little in common with the Tracker of the past. Chevrolet calls the Trax “Tracker” in foreign markets like Brazil and Russia, but that’s really the only link between the two vehicles. The U.S. Tracker was a quirky and capable SUV that could be used for daily driving. But the Trax, although a well-rounded small crossover, is devoid of the original Tracker’s personality and off-road chops.