Used 1997 Geo Tracker Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1997
To the delight of Chevrolet dealers, Geo introduced a new four-door hardtop variant of the cute little Tracker last year. Also new in 1996 was a revised instrument panel with dual airbags. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes were optional. So equipped, the new Tracker proved quite popular in the burgeoning mini sport-ute marketplace.
After a heavy makeover for 1996, changes for 1997 are limited. Convertibles get a standard fold-and-stow rear bench seat along with an enhanced evaporative emissions system. All Trackers can be painted Sunset Red Metallic or Azurite Blue Metallic for the first time. Prices have been at or near 1996 levels in an effort to make the Tracker more attractive to folks shopping Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
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 optional automatic transmission saps much of that strength.
Short and stubby, these friendly little vehicles maneuver easily but handle with a very light, sometimes twitchy touch on both the highway and off-road. 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, though during off-road driving, the door frames shudder just enough to let in a fine silt of dust that coats every plastic interior trim piece. Front seats are firm but lack leg support, and wear nice-looking upholstery. The rear seat of four-door models is surprisingly comfortable for two adults. Dual cupholders and a storage tray sit in the center console.
Convertibles have an "easy opening" top that folds 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 on four-door, and daytime running lights are standard on all Trackers. The 1.6-liter engine provides barely enough power in convertibles; in the four-door the engine is severely overmatched. Interstate cruising requires putting the pedal nearly to the metal just to maintain speed.
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 keeps the Tracker's breathless engine wound out tightly on slight inclines or at freeway speeds. With a bigger engine, lightly-equipped Trackers would certainly give the competition 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.