I've used my '00 AWD Astro Cargo van for work; where I frequently travel many miles on and off road. The AWD system works well when going up steep dirt hills, and has good poor weather traction. The van is easy to manuver in parking lots, and has nice passing and acceleration power.
I bought this van with 150k on it. It is about to flip 200k. The original motor/transmission/rear end are functioning flawlessly. I think it is interesting that it is rated to tow 3500 lbs and most front wheel drive van are rated at 1,000-1,500. Just goes to show you that rear wheel drive is a stronger design.-my neighbor has a courier service with a 1999 astro van that had 400k when he sold it. The new owner drove it home.
This is one hell of a van. Aside from the known transmission PCV valve problems (which can be fixed more permanently by using an aftermarket valve), this has to be the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. Incredibly well designed. Engine is very powerful, more so than any other van I've driven in its class. Unfortunately, Chevy discontinued the Astro as of 2006 so '05 is the last model year you will find. This is the ultimate small work van. Note that the standard roof rack solutions max out at 44" widths so if you need a 48" wide rack, you'll have to come up with a custom mounting solution for your wide rack.