What's New for 2002
A multiport fuel-injection system has been added for smoother operation along with a revised catalytic converter for better emissions control. Synthetic gear oil is now standard in the rear axle for reduced wear during heavy towing.
A staple in Chevy's lineup since 1985, the Astro is a hard-working minivan that still offers a few features that even the newest, most expensive competitors on the market can't match.
Curvaceous contours or modern ergonomics are certainly not the Astro's strong suit. What it does offer is a stout V6 engine, eight-passenger seating and the highest towing capacity of any minivan on the market.
Astro passenger vans can be equipped with standard LS or upscale LT trim. Included with the basic van are such items as chrome wheels, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, an AM/FM CD stereo, tilt steering wheel and remote keyless entry. Step up to the LT, and you get an upgraded cloth interior, rear A/C and heat, second-row captain's chairs, rear Dutch doors and brushed aluminum wheels.
All Astros offer a host of appealing features, such as a tow/haul mode for improved transmission performance while towing heavy loads, headlights that automatically activate in low-light situations, and battery rundown protection that will make sure you always have enough juice to get started.
Taller than many of their rivals, Astros are admittedly more truck-like in temperament, but deliver a pleasant highway ride with competent handling. Interior room is generous, with 170 cubic feet of total cargo space. Unfortunately, small front footwells make the driver and front passenger feel more cramped than in most minivans. Dual depowered airbags and antilock brakes are standard, but the aged Astro doesn't perform well in crash testing.
A 190-horsepower 4.3-liter V6 is the only engine available, sending power through a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission. Standard rear-wheel drive allows the Astro to boast a maximum towing capacity of 5,400 pounds. A full-time all-wheel drive system is optional. This system transfers power to the front wheels when it detects rear wheel slippage for maximum traction in adverse weather situations.
Basically, if you're looking for a no-frills minivan that offers plenty of interior room, a torque-rich V6 engine and the ability to haul a small trailer with ease, the Chevrolet Astro is well worth considering. But if you've got to have all the latest features and gadgets along with perfect crash-test scores, save yourself some time and scratch the Astro off your list.