Well, back to basics with the 1998 Tracer that shares the same platform and engine as its Plain-Jane sister, the Ford Escort. I had the pleasure of driving the Escort through Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic this past summer and was reminded of that journey while driving this Tracer. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to test the Tracer on the autobahns I did push the limits on the freeways of California.
I think you’ll be as impressed with how much performance you can get from a 4-cylinder engine. Definitely this is as good a commuter as they make. It comes in two trims: the GS and LS 4-door sedans.
The interior is clean and neat with an Integrated Control Panel similar to the one in the Sable. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the easy-to-use soft-touch controls and that become obvious when you encounter the opposite that is true of too many other cars. This is one thing I always look for in any car I review because if all the controls don’t fall to your fingertips I question how thoughtful or how poor other design aspects are. Yes, I know it’s easier to have everything at your fingertips with small cars, but how you find switches and instruments should be instinctive and right where you’d put them if you had a say in the design. Fortunately you don’t have to worry about that with this Tracer.
The manufacturer claims to have added weather stripping and one-piece body-side construction to help reduce wind and road noise. I must admit they did a pretty good job and the doors have a solid sound. Why couldn’t they quiet the \”Clanging Cymbal\” sound of the trunk closing? Probably because they weren’t as concerned with the trunk since you don’t close the trunk as often as you do the doors.
Quite frankly, all things considered, I still find it hard to believe that they can put out such a line-up of very capable cars as this Tracer and most of the competition listed below for the little bit of dough they charge. It is obvious you have a lot to chose from in this segment of the market, but of all those listed here watch the Dodge Neon. I expect it to rise to the top of the popularity charts.
Chevrolet Cavalier $11,710 – $19,410, Dodge Neon $11,480 – $13,485, Ford Escort $11,430 – $13,080, Honda Civic $10,650 – $16,480, Hyundai Elantra $11,499 – $12,549, Mazda Protege $12,145 – $15,295, Mitsubishi Mirage $10,830 – $14,330, Nissan Sentra $11,499 – $16,749, Saturn SL $10,595 – $12,755,Subaru Impreza $15,895 – $19,195, Toyota Corolla $11,908 – $14,798, Volkswagen Golf $13,495 – $20,235.
Impressive power, nice detailing and component fit, great gas efficiency, and clean lines and interior.
Light steering on the highway, tinny sounding trunk, ABS brakes are not standard and power windows and door locks are not an option.
2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 110 horsepower, 5-speed manual transmission dual airbags, child safety locks, variable-assist power steering and tinted glass, side-impact protection.
28City and 38 Highway MPG.
MSRP is $11,505 – $12,860
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