What's New for 2000
Retained accessory power and additional warning chimes are added to this ancient van for 2000. Also new are automatic headlights with a flash-to-pass feature, battery rundown protection, and a tow/haul trailering mode for the transmission. The ABS, engine and exhaust have been improved, and a plastic 27-gallon fuel tank is standard.
Models that have been around for a while can still deliver impressive value - and valor. That's true of the long-lived Astro van, a staple in Chevy's lineup since 1985. This hard-working cargo hauler, sporting a conventionally boxy shape, has - if anything - mellowed with age.
No, you don't get the curvaceous contours or the ergonomics of a Ford Windstar or Chevy Venture. What you do acquire is a highly practical heavy-duty carrier that can be equipped to suit just about any business, trimmed in just about any way you like. Depending on configuration, Astros can haul as much as three tons.
Out on the road, loaded with cargo, is where the Astro demonstrates its true worth. Taller than its likely rivals, Astros are admittedly more truck-like in temperament, but deliver a pleasant highway ride with competent handling. Seats are a little short, but comfortable. Unfortunately, overly small front footwells drop the comfort level a notch, 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.
For 2000, Chevy has made improvements to the engine, antilock braking system, and exhaust system in an effort to make the Astro quieter and more reliable. A plastic fuel tank is new, and Astro is now equipped with retained accessory power and battery rundown protection. A tow/haul mode on the transmission holds revs longer when Astro is laden with cargo or a trailer. Headlights that automatically activate in low-light situations have been added, along with a flash-to-pass feature for those interested in inciting road rage. Additional warning chimes remind the driver if the keys have been left in the ignition, among other things, and lockout protection comes with power door locks this year.
Solid and substantial, Astros remain tempting - if dated - choices. This is one small van that can boast big-van capacity and versatility.