What's New for 2000
Retained accessory power and additional warning chimes are added for 2000. Also new are automatic headlights with a flash-to-pass feature, remote keyless entry, battery rundown protection, lockout 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 passenger van, sporting a conventionally boxy shape, has - if anything - mellowed with age.
No, you don't get the curvaceous contours or the ergonomics of a Chrysler mini or a Ford Windstar. What you do acquire is a highly practical carrier that can be equipped to suit just about any family, trimmed in any of three levels. Depending on configuration, Astros can seat up to eight passengers and haul as much as three tons. 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 truck-like in temperament, but deliver a pleasant highway ride with competent handling for long journeys. Seats are a little short, but comfortable, in both the front and center positions. 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, and remote keyless entry is standard on LS and LT models. 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, whether for hauling passengers or cargo. This is one small van that can boast big-van capacity and versatility.