We usually use this room to highlight entertaining or quirky choices in the hopes that we can aid enthusiasts make decisions that will scratch a weird-motor vehicle itch, but even amongst the odd, the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari (we are going to refer to them collectively as the “Astro” for simplicity below) is a bit of an odd duck. This six- or eight-passenger van (a cargo design was sold far too) wasn’t very a comprehensive-sized van, nor was it a “correct,” vehicle-based mostly minivan, but some customers come across the Astro’s ‘tweener footprint to be just ideal.
This is not the first time we’ve highlighted a minivan in this featurette, but the Astro is unquestionably no Mazda5. In simple fact, even by ’90s minivan requirements, the Astro was very sluggish and ponderous, and it was hardly ever regarded for currently being a gasoline miser. Oh, and it was about as secure as strapping yourself to the front of a searching cart driven by a lawnmower engine and then tying your fingers powering your back.
But at the expense of fuel economy, it provided all-wheel generate and a a little bit more substantial variety element that created it more able as a tower and hauler than scaled-down, motor vehicle-based mostly minivans. It also borrowed some of its main powertrain factors from GM’s smaller vehicles and vans, which helped make it a bit extra strong.
Why the Astro?
The picture above genuinely tells the story. Though the Astro may have been largely cobbled together from objects acquired from GM’s various current trucks and vans, it was not just a bucket of spare pieces without the need of a coherent mission. The Astro was engineered to be rugged and durable, with rocker panels that have been built to resist corrosion. The earlier mentioned is a image of a 2005 product that put in time the two on the East Coast and in Illinois, and was for sale in Michigan at the time this write-up was printed. Not lousy, eh?
Apart from that, its utility genuinely speaks for by itself. Based on the calendar year and gear, some Astros were being rated to tow more than 5,000 kilos. Their truck-dependent underpinnings, out there all-wheel travel and added floor clearance make them fantastic candidates for mild overlanding expeditions, as numerous hikers in the Pacific Northwest (the place Astros appear to be to be well-known spending plan trail-head scouts) have probably seen. They are also excellent truck replacements in a pinch. With the seats taken out, very long-wheelbase products (later design yrs, essentially) can keep 4×8 sheets of plywood even with the rear doorways shut.
What selections need to I search for?
This is actually down to private choice. There appears very little stage in opting for a product with no all-wheel generate, as a two-wheel-push example of a scaled-down minivan would be considerably additional efficient and comfy for working day-to-working day driving. The Astro is potentially ideal identified for getting offered with a “Dutch” doorway option for the tailgate, replacing the typical barn-doorway setup with a 3-piece arrangement (as pictured previously mentioned). The independent doors make it possible for for much more adaptability when accessing the rear cargo space. We would not get in touch with it a gotta-have-it feature, but some buyers may perhaps obtain the gain worthwhile.
The Astro was also made available to upfitters, which means there are a lot of tailor made illustrations out there with additional-lavish interior appointments or cargo area enhancements. Make certain to verify these more than very carefully to ensure that any supplemental features are secured and functioning as anticipated.
Availability and listings
Thanks to its tough human body and truck-dependent operating gear, Astros are fairly reliable survivors, and obtaining them in respectable condition for a sensible price is reasonably simple to do. Cleaner, lower-mileage examples are inclined to be found in the mid-substantial four-figure variety, as evidenced by individuals located in Autoblog‘s area listings. Slim the offerings down by a radius about your ZIP code, and pay back consideration to the offer rating on every single listing to see how a vehicle compares with many others in a related location.
Note that if you develop your search to incorporate before model years than the variety suggested below, you may only locate rear-wheel drive models prior to 1990, which was the first 12 months AWD was provided as an alternative.
What else should really I think about?
In addition to its GMC Safari clone, the only van that genuinely matches the Astro’s dimensions, design and drivetrain structure is the Ford Aerostar. However, that was retired for 1997 when the Astro was just starting up its next lease on existence. As such, for the time time period we are on the lookout at, there’s definitely not substantially. For all those who totally will need the most passenger ability attainable, a larger sized passenger van based on the Chevrolet Express or GMC Savana would likely be the greater invest in. A a lot more gas-effective compact minivan would be a greater day-to-day car, and in that case you in all probability want a Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town & Place, a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, especially if you are searching for newer examples.
Of class, if you just want one thing that would not have the structural integrity of rotten leaves, pick literally everything else.