What's New for 2001
Performance from Astro's Vortec 4300 V6 is enhanced, compliments of a new powertrain control module. Also new is a low-emission vehicle (LEV) version. Color choices are expanded to include Light Pewter Metallic and Dark Carmine Red Metallic. Dutch rear doors are ousted to make loading easier.
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 modern machine. What you do acquire is a highly practical heavy-duty hauler that can be equipped to suit just about any business.
Available in a single trim level, Astro cargo van includes a host of appealing features. A tow-haul mode on the transmission that holds revs longer when Astro is laden with cargo or a trailer, headlights that automatically activate in low-light situations, and a flash-to-pass feature for those interested in inciting road rage, are standard. Buyers also get front air conditioning, vinyl seats, and an AM/FM stereo.
Aluminum wheels with white-lettered tires can be added to dress up the exterior, and a number of window glass configurations can be ordered. Power windows, locks, and mirrors, as well as a tilt steering wheel and cruise control, are optional. Cloth upholstery and an upgraded sound system with both cassette and CD players are also available.
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 the sole engine choice, putting power through a smooth shifting, four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission to drive the rear, or optionally, all wheels. 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. Depending on configuration, Astro cargo vans can haul as much as 5,900 pounds.
Dual depowered airbags and antilock brakes are standard, but Astro doesn't score well in crash testing. Still, with its body-on-frame construction and standard rear-wheel drive, Astro is the one small cargo van that can boast big-van capacity and versatility. Perfect for heavier-duty jobs, Astro makes sense for those with plenty to haul in any kind of weather.