Used 1996 Geo Tracker Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

A new four-door model joins the lineup, and dual airbags are standard on all Trackers. Four-wheel antilock brakes are optional. Revised styling freshens the new exterior, and daytime running lights make the Tracker more conspicuous to motorists. Cruise control is a new convenience option.

Vehicle overview

To the delight of Chevrolet dealers, Geo is introducing a new four-door hardtop variant of the cute little Tracker. For 1996, all Trackers get a revised instrument panel with dual airbags. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are optional. So equipped, the new Tracker should prove quite popular in the burgeoning mini sport-ute marketplace.

Fun-in-the-sun takes on fresh meaning behind the wheel of a snug-but-cozy Tracker convertible, whether its engine is driving two wheels or four. A 16-valve engine powers all Tracker models, sending out 95 horsepower. Naturally, the new four-speed automatic transmission saps much of that strength.

Short and stubby, these friendly little vehicles maneuver easily and handle with a light touch, whether on the highway or in more demanding situations. They're more solidly built than they appear at first glance--not at all like a toy--and deliver a passably pleasant ride most of the time. Differing little from the Suzuki Sidekick, Trackers look and feel substantial. Seats are firm but supportive, wearing nice-looking upholstery. Dual cupholders and a storage tray sit in the center console.

Convertibles have an "easy opening" top that erects in two ways: either the front half folds back like a sunroof, or the entire canvas top can be stowed for fully-open motoring. Though improved, putting the top up and down still isn't exactly a quickie operation. Several "expressions packages" feature color-keyed convertible tops and wheels, and a Tracker can be equipped to tow half a ton. LSi editions feature automatic-locking hubs, which are nice to have if you switch often between two- and four-wheel drive.

Four-door models can be equipped with power windows, door locks and mirrors. Child security rear door locks are standard, and daytime running lights have been added to all Trackers. Styling is slightly revised, and alloy wheels have been restyled. New exterior colors subdue the former Sweet Tart-inspired palette. Cruise control is a new option.

Would you want the convertible as your sole vehicle? Probably not, but a soft top Tracker in the garage just might turn sunny summer days into a veritable binge of adventure. Practical-minded folks, on the other hand, might prefer the weather-tight construction of a hardtop model. Sadly, we can't recommend using a Tracker for anything but light duty in the flatlands. The 1.6-liter motor is zippy enough to keep up in city traffic, but a heavy load of passengers or cargo keep the Tracker's breathless engine wound out tightly on slight inclines or at freeway speeds. With a bigger engine, the Tracker would certainly give the new Kia Sportage a run for the money.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.