For many of us, sport-utility vehicles are the stuff of lottery-winning fantasies. A hefty new Suburban, if you can find one, will set you back nearly $40,000. A Lincoln Navigator, nearly ten thousand dollars more.
But not all SUVs mean a huge deduction from your bank account. Of the truly trail-worthy SUVs, Chevrolet's new Tracker 4X4 is one of the least expensive. And, you might be surprised to read, it's one of the most satisfying.
Like the rest of the crew of mini-SUVs -- Honda's CR-V, Toyota's RAV4, and others -- the Tracker fits a number of bills. It's got cubbyholes and storage space galore for Rollerblades and mountain bikes, and the power to cut and thrust through city traffic. Its four-wheel drive inspires confidence in the wet and snowy months, and might even tug you to an off-road adventure.
But unlike the CR-V and RAV4, the Tracker has some sturdy off-road character underneath its sheet metal. It's built on a ladder frame, and has a four-wheel-drive system that offers low off-road gearing for trail rides and hill climbs. Add in eight inches of ground clearance, and the Tracker has the goods for any activity, on or off the pavement.
The Tracker would make an enjoyable economy car even if it came without the wagon body and off-road gear. But with its tall roof and 4X4 capability, the Tracker makes a strong case as an all-in-one vehicle that suits a wide range of needs. It's a slick piece of work -- and a hip choice if your annual car budget has just one line item.