What's New for 1999
A new all-wheel-drive active transfer case replaces the previous AWD system, and includes a new control module and service light. Depowered airbags finally arrive this year along with new outside mirrors.
Models that have been around for a while can still deliver impressive value. That's true of the long-lived Astro van, a staple in Chevy's lineup since 1985.
Out on the road, rolling hour after hour, is where the Astro demonstrates its true worth. Taller than its likely rivals, Astros are admittedly more trucklike in temperament, but deliver a pleasant highway ride with competent handling for long journeys. The seats are a little short, but comfortable enough for work duty. Unfortunately, overly small front footwells crowd long legs especially after long stints behind the wheel. A 190-horsepower, 4.3-liter V6 is standard, putting power through a smooth-shifting four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission to drive the rear wheels.
Dual depowered airbags and antilock brakes are standard. You get only one body choice: the extended-length version. The lower-priced rear-drive rendition is the ticket for hauling plenty of weight. All-wheel drive costs more and delivers improved wet-pavement traction, but slurps up more fuel along the route.
This year, Chevy adds a state-of-the-art all-wheel-drive transfer case to replace the old AWD system. It operates in two-wheel drive until the system senses rear-wheel slippage. It then immediately transfers torque between the front and rear axles to help regain traction and optimize control. Also new are interior roof consoles and redesigned outside mirrors.
Solid and substantial, the Astro cargo van remains a tempting choice if you demand a smaller van with big van capacity and versatility.