What's New for 2001
A new four-door crew cab 4WD version is offered with enough room for five passengers. Chevy's compact truck now offers a national low emission vehicle (NLEV) option.
Like most of today's compact trucks, Chevrolet's S-Series has been growing more carlike, especially since its last redesign in 1994. That's the trend, and Chevy has continued transforming its small-scale pickups into everyday vehicles, without blurring their identity as practical machines. S-10 brand manager Debra Kelly-Ennis says, "It's a durable, rugged pickup, yet it has comfortable carlike qualities." Indeed, grasping the S-10's long manual-transmission gearshift lever makes it easy to imagine you're piloting a big rig, while enjoying the blissful comforts of a compact.
Four-cylinder models need that manual shift to gain top performance, but the available V6 engine (optional on 2WD S-10 and standard on 4WD models) is strong with either manual or automatic transmissions. The 180-horsepower Vortec 4300 V6 cranks out 245 foot-pounds of twist (190 horsepower and 250 ft-lbs. of torque in 4WD models). Roller rocker arms, a roller timing chain and a powdered metal timing-chain sprocket help the engine run more quietly and durably.
Two- and four-wheel-drive trucks come in several configurations, with a short or long bed, a Fleetside box or Sportside box, and a short or extended wheelbase available. Ride comfort varies from car-smooth to strictly firm, depending on the choice of suspensions and tires.
Extended-cab trucks can be equipped with a handy access panel that opens wide to allow for easier access to the rear of the cab. Located on the driver's side, this optional third door deletes one of the extended cab's jump seats, but makes it much easier to load cargo, a friend, or your pal Spot into the S-10. But be warned, the third door makes for aggravating rattles on broken pavement. Surprisingly, the extended cab's rear jump seats are comfortable enough for short trips, as long as only one adult occupies the space behind the front seats.
New for the year is a four-door 4WD crew cab configuration enabling you to bring along four of your friends. Headroom is ample and seats are supportive, but the driver sits low, facing a tall steering wheel and cowl. In theory, three people fit across an S-Series bench seat, but only someone as slim as Ally McBeal could fit comfortably in the space allotted.
The full complement of gauges is excellent and easy to read, but the upright dashboard is constructed of cheap- and brittle-looking plastic. Despite a low-height windshield, visibility is super, helped by huge side mirrors. Dual airbags and daytime running lamps are standard, as well as a theft-deterrent system and four-wheel ABS. Off-roaders will want the burly ZR2 package with its wider track and taller ride height, featuring special wheel flares, tough suspension components, aggressive rubber and 3.73 rear-axle ratio.
The sporty Xtreme package can be had as a regular or extended cab, with a Fleetside or Sportside box, a four- or six-cylinder engine, manual or automatic transmission, and in base or LS trim. Riding on a special ZQ8 suspension that is lowered 2 full inches, the two-wheel-drive only Xtreme aims to be a factory sport truck that can be custom tailored to meet a variety of needs and budgets.
Like many Chevrolets, the S-10 is loaded with value, but we've never quite warmed up to it. Occasional squeaks and rattles and the low-buck interior don't provide the feeling of brawny quality that we've experienced in the S-10's major competitor, Ford's Ranger. Couple this lack of substantive feel with lousy crash-test scores, and we cannot find reason to recommend this GM compact over more capable and refined models.