I bought my Chevy S10 for $1000 dollars at 200k miles (only because the owner thought it had a cracked head, but it was perfectly fine and just a spark plug wire came loose) and I have to say, it's been a great first vehicle. I used it to learn how to drive manual and it's still going strong. The little 2.2l 4 cylinder can move this truck pretty quick on the city streets, but I wouldn't recommend it for constant use on interstate highways. The gas mileage is great, insurance is cheap (for me at least) and it has maintained great reliability. The only part I have a problem with is the ignition module on top of the steering column under the dash, as it will go out about once or twice a year, but as soon as I did it once, it's a quick swap and the part only costs about $8. My truck has been beaten up a bit from previous owners and had me grind the gears while learning how to drive it, but it's still as strong as my dad's was when he had his. My S10 was lowered and I believe it increased the cornering pretty well, and it feels very strong compared to some other trucks. If I was to get my child a first vehicle, a manual 2.2l S10 would be first choice for its reliability, tolerance to abuse, and the great gas mileage.
I bought this truck in 2000 from the original owner for college and it has gone the distance. It just died after 237,000 miles with only minor repairs to the engine and body. This was a fantastic vehicle and loved the style and fuel economy it provided. I towed my boat and used it to move three times during its life. I would replace the engine but it is no longer worth the cost. I changed the oil every three to four thousand miles. If you take care of it; it will take care of you.
Bought the S10 in the fall of 1994 because I just relocated to Northeastern Ohio and I needed four wheel drive for the winter. I have never been left stranded by this truck and beyond routine maintenance I have had no repair issues. I would recommend these trucks to anyone.
This was my first vehicle I bought myself in April of 2001. I still have it, still drive it and still love it. Over the years this truck has been very reliable and the quality is great. The only problem I have with it is the 2.2L 4cylinder engine. bad idea on GM's part, engine is way too small for this truck and eats gas like crazy and extremely underpowered, 4:10 gears don't help fuel consumption either, 21mpg at best and thats driving it easy.