LAS VEGAS - Chevrolet's Tracker small sport-utility finally will get a V-6 engine.
Starting in the 2001 model year, the new four-door Chevrolet Tracker LT will feature the same 2.5-liter aluminum block V-6 engine as its sister vehicle, the Japanese-made Suzuki Grand Vitara.
Suzuki Motor Co. Ltd. was reluctant to give up its monopoly on the V-6. 'It took a lot of persuasion and negotiations,' Phil Carlisle, Tracker brand manager, said at the introduction of the Tracker LT here last week at the Specialty Equipment Market Association convention.
GM increased its ownership of Suzuki to 10 percent last year. It also has worked closely with the Japanese automaker on new vehicle projects, including a passenger car known as the YGM-1.
ASSEMBLED AT CAMI
Unlike the Grand Vitara, the Tracker LT will be assembled in Ingersoll, Ontario, at CAMI Automotive Inc., the manufacturing joint venture of General Motors and Suzuki.
The CAMI plant assembles two- and four-door versions of the Tracker and Vitara, a scaled-down version of the Grand Vitara. The sister vehicles feature Suzuki's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
Suzuki will supply the V-6 engine for the Tracker LT from Japan, as it does with the four-cylinder engine.
CAMI spokesman Walt Bordian said Tracker LT production will begin next September.
Until recently, the four-door Grand Vitara and its predecessor, the Sidekick Sport, had stood out as one of the few small sport-utilities with a V-6. This year, Suzuki has parlayed the bigger engine and a new design into robust sales.
Through October, Suzuki had sold 22,502 Grand Vitaras this year compared with 11,965 Grand Vitaras and Sidekick Sports for the same period in 1998.
Competition in the segment is getting tougher, led by the Nissan Xterra small sport-utility with a 3.3-liter V-6.
The Grand Vitara/Tracker LT V-6 engine offers 155 hp at 6,500 rpm and 160 pounds-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm.
Through October, Chevrolet had sold 32,365 Trackers this year, up from 18,330 for the same period in 1998.