The Chevrolet Tracker, formerly the Geo Tracker, is a mini SUV produced for Chevrolet and Geo by CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario. Although appearing as a compact SUV, the Tracker was actually certified as a Light truck due to its off-road capabilities.
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 80 hp (60 kW). 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 GM Turbo-Hydramatic 180 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 96 hp (72 kW). 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 and certified as a Light truck. 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 to 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.