Why I love Geo Trackers

1997-Tracker-4x4-Black-Automatic

I really, reallyyyyyy love 1st generation Geo Trackers and have owned them since they were first introduced into Canada in 1989 as Chevys. My first one was a new 1989 Chevrolet Tracker, and my second was a new 1991 Chev Tracker. It was after that when GM rebranded these most amazing mini SUVs with the GEO moniker.

My charcoal grey '89 Chevy Tracker got stolen in Ottawa, Ontario in 1991, and I replaced it with a white 1991 that got wrecked down south of Gainesville, Florida in 1995. I didn't get another one of these until 2019, although I was always enamored.

1989 Chevy Tracker soft top
Both of my new Chevy Geo Trackers started out as soft tops, but I added the Pro Top removable fiberglass hard top to them.

Removable Hard Tops

I wish the Pro Tops roofs were still available; those were the best. They worked and looked SO much better than any aftermarket removable hard top you can buy now.

1989 Chevy Tracker with Pro Top removable hard top 1991 Chevrolet Tracker with ProTop removable hard top

The beauty of these hard tops was that they were light, as all such hard tops still are, but they had molded in roof rack bars that I used as handles to lift the backs on and off. The fronts used better clamp on latches than any new ones I've seen, and the rear clip on parts were slides that held tight and were very easy to work with. The interior ceilings of them were perforated vinyl upholstery with a wee bit of padding for sound deadening instead of the grey firewall felt that most aftermarket roofs come with now.

The Suzuki/Geo removable hard tops are smaller and way lighter than massive Jeep ones that you have to lift on and off with a hoist. I can remove and replace even the rear removable hard top by myself on a Sidekick or Tracker.

Shopping For Geo Trackers

I looked at Suzuki Sidekicks and Geo Trackers and priced them for about two years before I pulled the trigger on a used one from Virginia in 2019. I have since owned that slightly used 1997 rag top called Black Mambaaaaaah with 87,000 miles on it, and later picked up a fairly used 1998 (Chevrolet) with removable hard top called Green Goblin in Jacksonville, Florida with 150,000 miles on it, and then a very slightly used 1995 tin top called Blue Bomb that I bought from a barn in Nashville, Tennessee with just 12,300 miles on it.

In these Coronapocalypse days, people are spending more time outdoors and away from crowds. Wheeling is one thing that is rapidly growing in popularity, and with the reputation of these little 4x4 trucks, they're really rising in price, even up to levels above their original new retail prices.

High-Priced-Suzuki-Sidekick
89 Suzuki Sidekick auctioned for $23,000 October 2021.

Needless to say, I like that they have great resale value. Hopefully there's no economic recession anytime soon, and they continue to hold their place in the "less expensive and more capable than a Jeep" market.

The Size of 1st Gen Geo Trackers

I love their small size for getting onto trails where ATVs go, and for not getting stuck in deep loose sand at the beach because they're so light. They are small enough to go where Jeeps and even larger trucks cannot go, and light enough (at roughly 2400 lbs. with an empty tank and unloaded) not to sink. The wheelbase of 2 wheel drive Geo Trackers is 86.6 inches, and 4 wheel drive ones have a wheelbase measure of 97.6 inches. However, the 2 doors' have an overall length of 143 inches, and the 4 doors are 159 inches long. These mini SUVs are quite skinny, at a little less than 7 feet including the wing span of their mirrors, 64.5 inches without mirrors.

Even the 4 door long wheel base model is still basically a short wheel base mini SUV. The average car is just over 14.5 feet long, while these 4 door mini SUVs are only 14.25 feet long.

SideTracks Fuel Economy

Two door Geo Trackers had 11.1 gallon gas tanks, and four door ones held 14.5 gallons, but they still could go quite far on that. At 23 to 27 miles per gallon.

When they were new, econoboxes were the rage, and people wanted less power. Honestly I don't think anyone is really concerned about fuel economy with these because they're now mostly used for recreation. I do wish Suzuki or GM had developed an upgrade to a 6 cyl option with greater horsepower.

Wheeling Geo Tracker 4x4's

Despite their small stature, their lowest point (the differential) is still as high off the ground as a Jeep.

Full-Send Wheeling Geo Trackers

TracKicks started off as a 1.6L 8-Valve aluminum block motor, which was used in the 1989-1995 Trackers. In 1995, the 4WD Tracker got the 1.6L 16-Valve. The 2WD Tracker got the 1.6L 16-Valve in 1996. 1600cc is adequate for moving less than 3,000 pounds up a slippery, rocky hill. Still, it is not uncommon to find these SideTracks with engine swaps and other mods.

Another common modification for wheeling these minitrucks is armor. You'll often see rock sliders under the doors along the running boards, and skid plates underneath. You'll very commonly see swapped out bumpers with variants like swing out tire carriers in the back for the weight of oversized spares, and winches and rings in the front for extraction.

The largest tires you can add to a 1st gen TracKick are 29's, but they'll rub a little when the steering is fully cranked and moving backward, or when suspension is fully flexed. I have ridden 235/75R15 Nexen Roadian (muddies) without a lift. I also have 31's on my 2" body lifted green machine. I'm not a huge fan of the body lift pucks though. Next time I'll go with the suspension lift.

Biggest tires that fit on Geo Tracker Suzuki Sidekick without lifting Chev Tracker with 31's mud tires and 2inch lift

Back in the day, Jeep bribed Consumer Reports to publish a smear campaign against these most awesome minitrucks because they were really posing a market share threat. Word was that they were tippy and dangerous, but that's not the case. Anyone can flip any vehicle if they drive it a certain way. I've seen a LOT more Jeeps tumbling over than SideTracks. Anyway, that mostly became the Suzuki/Geo downfall.

Off-Road-Wheeling-MiniSUV

So, over the years of 1989 though 1998, first generation SideTracks evolved in size (ever so slightly), some interior features (remember the "Oh Shit" Handle?), and motor. Some folks might label different iterations of these as a Gen 1a and Gen 1b, based on changes.

I've owned a LOT of vehicles - luxury, speed, sport, pickemup, van, shitbox, new. By and large, the Geo Trackers that I have possessed are my favorite.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in GM Minitrucks, Suzuki Minitrucks
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