Known for small, consumer-grade vehicles and SUVs at affordable prices, Geo was a joint venture of General Motors and Japanese automakers Toyota, Isuzu and Suzuki. Part of General Motors' Chevrolet division, Geo began production in 1989 and was intended to be a direct counter to the growing number of Japanese imports entering the U.S. New models were produced under the Geo name through 1997, then under the GM banner until the last Geo vehicle ? the Tracker ? was discontinued in 2004.
Getting to know Geo Metro
One of the keys to Geo's early success, the Geo Metro is a small economy car based on the Suzuki Swift. Produced from 1989 through 2001, the Geo Metro began in three- and five-door hatchback models in the U.S., as well as a four-door sedan sold in Canada. By 1990, a Metro convertible hit the market, but the convertible line was discontinued by 1993.
Miles per gallon were tremendous on the early Geo Metro. The XFi edition played it conservative with the horsepower due to its three-cylinder engine, but the trade-off was a robust 53 MPG city or 58 MPG on the highway. The first-edition convertible Metro is noteworthy because of its standard dual airbags.
The Metro returned in 1998 as a Chevrolet. Compared with the original Geo, the engineering only changed to a small degree. The four-cylinder engine could now put out 79 horsepower, an improvement over the original Geo Metro engine.
The award-winning Prizm
The compact, four-door Geo Prizm sedan was based upon Toyota Corolla and Sprinter models. It earned numerous automotive industry awards among economy cars, including the prestigious Consumer's Digest Best Buy award. However, even this was not enough to push Prizm sales above those of the Corolla. Nevertheless, the Prizm was sold from 1989 through 2002, in both the base model and a more upscale LSi version with a larger, 1.8-liter engine and 4-speed automatic transmission.
A short-selling Spectrum
Geo's Spectrum subcompact, which was based on Isuzu's I-Mark, was sold under the Geo name only in 1989, until it was replaced by the Storm. Previously, the Spectrum had been a Chevrolet model from 1985 to 1989.
Strong Storm sales quelled by Isuzu
Based on the Isuzu Impulse, the 1990 Geo Storm came in a sporty two-door or a three-door hatchback. The basic model offered the choice of a three-speed automatic of five-speed manual transmission, but the Storm GSi upped the ante with a four-speed automatic, as well as improved handling and a DOHC engine with additional power. Remodels occurred in 1992 and sold well, but when Isuzu scrapped its car line, the Storm was a casualty.
Tracker to the end
The 1989 Geo Tracker SUV brought off-roading capability to the Geo line, and that element helped it become Geo's longest-running model (1989-2004 between Geo and Chevrolet). It was replaced by Chevrolet's Equinox in 2005.