The Geo Tracker was a mini SUV introduced in late 1988 as a 1989 model. It was developed by CAMI which was a joint venture between General Motors of Canada and Suzuki. North American Models were to be built in Cami's Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada plant alongside its almost identical twin the domestic-built Suzuki Sidekick (Escudo). All 1989 and some 1990 Trackers were built in Japan and imported to the US because of delays at the CAMI factory in Canada. In 1990 production began in Ingersoll and all Trackers were now being built there. The Tracker was originally powered by Suzuki's 1.6L SOHC 4-cylinder engine producing Template:Convert. The trim levels in 1989 were base convertible, base 2 door hardtop and LSi hardtop. LSi equipment included Air Conditioner, Chrome Rally Wheels, intermittent wipers, rear window wiper/washer, spare tire cover, 3 speed automatic transmission, tinted glass, and special red/black front and rear bucket seats. In 1990 the LSi trim was made available on the convertible models also. All Trackers were four wheel drive until a base two wheel drive convertible was introduced in 1992. The two door hardtop models were available until 1995 when they were discontinued to make way for the four door hardtop wagon that was to be introduced the following year. Although Suzuki started importing Sidekick 4-doors in 1991 CAMI didn't start producing them until the 1996 model year, when America got a 4-door Geo Tracker, now powered by Suzuki's G16B 16 valve 1.6L boasting Template:Convert. In 1998 the Geo nameplate was merged back into Chevrolet and all Geo Models including the Tracker were rebadged as Chevrolet in 1998. The Tracker was different from most other light SUVs on the market in that it is based on a rugged light-truck chassis. Although it appeared to be a comfortable passenger SUV, it was bolstered by a sturdy off-road 4-wheel drive system with a conventional light truck engine and transmission coupled to a hi-lo, 2-4 transfer case. The Tracker had a strong front suspension with a rugged recirculating ball steering box. The conventional front differential was rigidly mounted ahead of the engine, with U-jointed drive-shafts connecting the coil-spring front hubs to the differential case. The rear axle was a conventional light truck unit on coil springs. As a result of the truck-like underpinnings, the Tracker had a fairly truck-like ride, but the benefit was its notable durability in harsh conditions. The production of the first generation model of the Tracker (and Sidekick) came to an end in Ontario after 1998 in order to make way for the second generation of Tracker/Vitara. However the first generation Sidekick continued in production in other countries until 2004.
When the Geo Tracker was introduced in the United States the Geo Brand was not sold in Canada. Because of this the Tracker was introduced there as both the Chevrolet Tracker and the GMC Tracker. The Chevrolet Tracker was sold at Chevrolet dealerships in Canada starting in 1989. Initially there were 3 models: a base convertible, base hardtop and a CL hardtop (CL is equivalent to the LSi in the Geo line). In 1990 a CL convertible was added to the line-up. 1991 was the last year for the Chevrolet Tracker as the Geo marque was brought to Canada in 1992 and all Chevrolet Trackers were renamed Geo Trackers, yet they continued to display the Chevrolet "Bow Tie" symbol on the front grill emblem until the end of production in 1998. All 1989-1990 Chevrolet Trackers were four wheel drive. From 1991 on the Geo Tracker sold in Canada was identical to its US counterpart. The GMC Tracker was also introduced for the 1989 model year to be sold at Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealerships in Canada. Just like the Chevrolet and Geo initially there were three models: base convertible, base hardtop and SLE hardtop (SLE being equipped the same as the CL and LSi of the other marques). In 1990 an SLE convertible was added to the lineup. 1991 was the last year for the GMC Tracker as GM introduced the Asüna marque in 1992 and the GMC Tracker was renamed the Asüna Sunrunner. The Sunrunner was marketed as more upmarket and had no base model, with all of the Sunrunners being equipped like the SLEs were.The Asüna brand did not last long though and after only two years (1992 and 1993) the Sunrunner was rebranded as a Pontiac. The Pontiac Sunrunner was sold in Canada from 1994-1998 in both base and top of the line GT trim. It was available in two and four wheel drive and in both convertible and hardtop body-styles. While the Geo Tracker was also sold as a four door wagon beginning in 1996, The Sunrunner never got this body-style. Template:Clear
Template:Infobox Automobile generation In 1999, the Sidekick was discontinued, and a second generation Tracker was introduced. This time, it was a rebadged Suzuki Grand Vitara which is still sold by GM in Latin American countries as the Chevrolet Grand Vitara. In Mexico, the second-generation Tracker remained in production and was sold there as Chevrolet Tracker. The Tracker series was discontinued in the United States and Canada in 2004, but all models including the LJ80/Jimny are still in production in other Suzuki plants. Some Trackers and Sidekicks were made at a Suzuki plant in Kosai, Japan. The later (1999 and up) Tracker models reverted to a lightweight automobile-type rack and pinion steering, and thus were nowhere near as popular with rural and off-road users since the rack and pinion is easily damaged (and expensive to repair). The 1st generation Tracker was sold as the Chevrolet Vitara in Latin America, and the 2nd generation Tracker is sold as the Chevrolet Grand Vitara in Latin American countries. In North America, the first generation Tracker was sold as a Chevrolet in 1998 after GM discontinued the Geo brand. In Latinoamerica GM made the Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara and sold as Chevrolet Vitara/Grand Vitara (Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela produced in GM Ecuador), Suzuki Grand Vitara (Argentina) Chevrolet Tracker "Just change Logos" (Brazil and Mexico) Both Produced by GM Argentina. On January 27, 2004, production of the Chevrolet Tracker was discontinued at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario and replaced with the Chevrolet Equinox. A weird sude note is that the Tracker sales along with its Geo siblings suffered severe loss in sales when they were rebadged Chevrolet in 1998. The Geo Branded vehicles out sold the Chevrolet badged ones 3 to 1.
Tracker in MexicoEdit
Even though the Tracker was discontinued in the U.S. & Canada, the Tracker continued sales in Mexico & Brazil, although the model was facelifted in 2005. For the 2006 model year, the silver GM logo was added on the front doors. The Tracker was finally replaced by the 4 cylinder versions of the already introduced Chevrolet Captiva Sport (Saturn Vue in the U.S and Canada, even though the Vue & Captiva are both built in Mexico) in the summer of 2008 because of rapidly falling sales due to its old design.
Tracker in BrazilEdit
Even though the Tracker was discontinued in the U.S. & Canada, the Tracker continued sales in Mexico and Brazil, although the model was facelifted in 2005. For the 2006 model year, the silver GM logo was added on the front doors. The Tracker was finally replaced by the 4 cylinder versions of the already introduced Chevrolet Captiva Sport (Saturn Vue in the U.S and Canada, even though the Vue & Captiva are both built in Mexico) in the summer of 2008 because of rapidly falling sales due to its old design.
According to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, models of the Geo Tracker manufactured between 1991 and 1993 received the worst safety rating of all vehicles tested, with a reported 3.2 driver deaths per 10,000 vehicles. This was nearly three times the average of 1.1 deaths per 10,000 vehicles. Furthermore, crashes involving a rollover resulted in a fatality rate six times the reported average.
Consumers Union and the Suzuki Samurai LawsuitEdit
The reputation of the Suzuki Samurai suffered after Consumer Reports, the magazine arm of Consumers Union, reported that during a 1988 test on the short course avoidance maneuver (Consumer Union Short Course Double Lane Change, or CUSC for short), the Samurai experienced what they deemed as an unacceptable amount of roll-over while undertaking the severe turn. Suzuki sued on the grounds that the statements made by CU intentionally damaged their reputation and the reputation of their vehicles in 1996. Suzuki sued for $60 Million in damages and unspecified punitive damages for what Suzuki claimed was willful publication of fabricated test results. After an 8-year legal battle and an overturned ruling granting dismissal of the lawsuit, both sides settled out of court through mutual consent in 2004. CR did not pay money or issue a retraction, but issued a clarification stating it "never intended to imply that the Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions." CR also consented to no longer mentioning the test, conducted sixteen years prior to the settlement, in any future advertising and promotional materials. Suzuki's issued a statement acknowledging 'C.U.'s stated commitment for objective and unbiased testing and reporting'. Both sides announced their intention to remove material relating to the lawsuit from their respective web sites.
- Suzuki Sidekick/Chevy Tracker Review - 4WD4X4Reviews.com
- On the trail with the Suzuki Vitara/Escudo 4x4 - 4WDTraveller.com
- Chevrolet Tracker reviews
- Sidekicks and Trackers Users Group