1997 Chevrolet S-10 Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Fuel efficient base engine, sporty styling, powerful optional V-6, handy third door option
  • Shabby build quality, low seating positions, rattly third door option.
List Price Estimate
$912 - $1,934

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Like most of today's compact trucks, Chevrolet's S-Series grew more car-like when it was redesigned for 1994. That's the trend, and Chevy has done a good job of transforming its small-scale pickups--without blurring their identity as practical machines. Riding smoother and handling better, they gained plenty in performance potential and overall refinement, ranking closer to their main competition, Ford's similar-size Ranger. Grasp that long manual-transmission gearshift lever and it's easy to imagine you're wielding a big rig, while enjoying the blissful comforts of a compact.

Four-cylinder models need that manual shift to derive top performance, but the two V-6 engine options are strong with either manual or automatic transmissions. For maximum output, the optional 180-horsepower L35 Vortec 4300 V-6 is the engine to select (190 horsepower in 4WD models). The slightly less energetic LF6 Vortec 4300 V-6 is no slouch, nearly matching the L35 in power and torque

Extended cab models 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, the 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. Be warned, the third door makes for aggravating rattles on broken pavement.

Two- and four-wheel-drive trucks come in seven models each, with a short or long bed, fleetside box or sportside box, and short or extended wheelbase. Ride comfort varies from car-smooth to strictly firm, depending on the choice of suspensions and tires.

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 it's hard to conceive of an adult human being slim enough to squeeze into the space allotted. Surprisingly, the extended cab's rear jump seats are comfortable for short trips, as long as only one adult occupies the space behind the front seats.

Full gauges are excellent and easy to read, but the upright dashboard is constructed of cheap and brittle looking plastic. Despite a low-height windshield--not unlike the Ranger's--visibility is super, helped by huge mirrors. A driver's airbag and daytime running lamps are standard. All models have four-wheel anti-lock braking. Off-roaders will want the burly ZR2 package that makes the truck's body wider and taller, featuring special wheel flares, tough suspension components, and aggressive rubber.

For 1997, Chevrolet has strengthened the frame of the 2WD model by using tougher components. Refinements to the automatic transmission result in improved efficiency and smoother shifts. Four-wheel drive models have lighter-weight plug-in half shafts that are easier to service. Two new colors are available; Fairway Green Metallic and Medium Beige Mystique Metallic.

Like many Chevrolets, the S-10 is loaded with value. However, we must take issue with the poor crash test scores of this little pickup, especially in contrast to the good crashworthiness demonstrated by the Ford Ranger. Furthermore, the Ranger can be equipped with dual front airbags, and the new -for-1997 Dodge Dakota offers dual airbags as standard equipment. Chevy doesn't make a passenger airbag available. We genuinely like the S-10, but feel that for safety-minded shoppers, Ford's Ranger and Dodge's Dakota are the better buys in this class.

1997 Highlights

Chevy strengthens the 2WD S-10 frame by using tougher components. Refinements to the automatic transmission result in improved efficiency and smoother shifts. Four-wheel-drive models have lighter-weight plug-in half shafts. Two new colors are available.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Chevrolet S-10.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

little red truck
bird,01/18/2004
The truck was not what I wanted. Small, no frills. But when I drove it my mind changed. It's fun to drive around the city, if you like to drive. Oh it's a 5 speed and I use it. Like most things we drive it could use more power, but then again I wouldn't be passing as many gas stations. I plan on keeping it until it or I give out. So far other the regular maintenance it's got all the factory parts except the rear U joint. Great Driver
Chevrolet S10
wbchevy,09/28/2006
Fantastic truck, excellent power for this vehicle class, and excellent overall value. This truck provides the perfect combination of form and function, providing good fuel mileage and overall capability. The cabin is quiet and well layed out, providing good room for most all passenger sizes. Overall, I would highly recommend this vehicle as it provides nearly full size capability with compact fuel economy of over 20mpg.
Big Results from a Little Truck
Jay,08/29/2009
I bought my truck used from a friend who had two trucks. This is a great and dependable truck. I use my truck for work and decided since I was going to school to drive it. I drove from North Carolina to El Paso Texas no issue. The only thing that I did was change the timing belt and started using synthetic oil. Awesome truck!!
Tough little truck
S10man,02/05/2009
This truck was given to me by grandfather after he died and it has been very reliable. I have just turned 16 and I've been rough with this truck and it still holds up. The 4.3 V6 was the best V6 ever made. Actually it is a 350 block with two cylinders chopped off. It has the same size pistons and everything. It has a lot of power and will still lay you back in your seat with over 106,000 miles on it. The only thing I've ever had to do to it was change the oil and I put a K&N lifetime air filter in it. The only thing that has gone wrong with it is the compressor had a leak that I fixed easily. Other than that it has been great.

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
118 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
118 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
118 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
118 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1997 Chevrolet S-10 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 Chevrolet S-10

Used 1997 Chevrolet S-10 Overview

The Used 1997 Chevrolet S-10 is offered in the following submodels: S-10 Regular Cab, S-10 Extended Cab. Available styles include 2dr Regular Cab LB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Regular Cab LB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Extended Cab SB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Extended Cab SB (2.2L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), LS 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), and 2dr Regular Cab 4WD LB (4.3L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Chevrolet S-10?

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Which used 1997 Chevrolet S-10s are available in my area?

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Find a used Chevrolet S-10 for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $11,082.

Find a used Chevrolet for sale - 2 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $13,010.

Find a used certified pre-owned Chevrolet S-10 for sale - 7 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $21,586.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Chevrolet S-10?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Chevrolet lease specials
Check out Chevrolet S-10 lease specials