We typically use this space to spotlight entertaining or quirky possibilities in the hopes that we can support fanatics make choices that will scratch a unusual-auto itch, but even amongst the weird, the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari (we will refer to them collectively as the “Astro” for simplicity in this article) is a bit of an odd duck. This six- or 8-passenger van (a cargo design was offered also) wasn’t really a entire-sized van, nor was it a “genuine,” vehicle-dependent minivan, but some consumers locate the Astro’s ‘tweener footprint to be just right.
This isn’t really the initial time we’ve highlighted a minivan in this featurette, but the Astro is unquestionably no Mazda5. In point, even by ’90s minivan expectations, the Astro was rather sluggish and ponderous, and it was in no way recognised for remaining a gas miser. Oh, and it was about as risk-free as strapping your self to the front of a searching cart run by a lawnmower engine and then tying your fingers powering your back.
But at the expenditure of fuel financial system, it available all-wheel travel and a marginally bigger type issue that made it far more able as a tower and hauler than smaller sized, car-primarily based minivans. It also borrowed some of its core powertrain elements from GM’s smaller vehicles and vans, which helped make it a bit far more strong.
Why the Astro?
The impression over actually tells the tale. Whilst the Astro could have been mostly cobbled jointly from products obtained from GM’s numerous existing vans and vans, it wasn’t just a bucket of spare components without a coherent mission. The Astro was engineered to be rugged and strong, with rocker panels that ended up developed to resist corrosion. The above is a image of a 2005 product that spent time both equally on the East Coastline and in Illinois, and was for sale in Michigan at the time this report was published. Not terrible, eh?
Aside from that, its utility genuinely speaks for by itself. Relying on the yr and gear, some Astros ended up rated to tow more than 5,000 kilos. Their truck-primarily based underpinnings, offered all-wheel travel and added floor clearance make them superb candidates for delicate overlanding expeditions, as numerous hikers in the Pacific Northwest (wherever Astros appear to be to be popular spending plan trail-head scouts) have very likely seen. They’re also outstanding truck replacements in a pinch. With the seats eliminated, extensive-wheelbase models (later on design decades, effectively) can maintain 4×8 sheets of plywood even with the rear doorways shut.
What selections should really I appear for?
This is definitely down to individual desire. There seems minor position in opting for a product without all-wheel push, as a two-wheel-travel instance of a lesser minivan would be far extra effective and snug for working day-to-day driving. The Astro is probably very best known for remaining available with a “Dutch” door possibility for the tailgate, replacing the typical barn-door set up with a three-piece arrangement (as pictured previously mentioned). The separate doorways allow for for more flexibility when accessing the rear cargo space. We wouldn’t get in touch with it a gotta-have-it characteristic, but some shoppers may possibly find the advantage worthwhile.
The Astro was also presented to upfitters, this means there are a lot of tailor made illustrations out there with extra-lavish inside appointments or cargo region enhancements. Make positive to check these in excess of carefully to assure that any further capabilities are secured and running as predicted.
Availability and listings
Many thanks to its challenging overall body and truck-based working gear, Astros are rather sound survivors, and locating them in respectable condition for a affordable price is fairly easy to do. Cleaner, lessen-mileage illustrations tend to be located in the mid-high four-figure array, as evidenced by people uncovered in Autoblog‘s area listings. Slender the offerings down by a radius around your ZIP code, and fork out consideration to the offer ranking on just about every listing to see how a auto compares with many others in a comparable location.
Notice that if you expand your research to contain earlier model decades than the assortment suggested below, you’ll only find rear-wheel generate designs prior to 1990, which was the initially year AWD was offered as an choice.
What else should really I consider?
Moreover its GMC Safari clone, the only van that actually matches the Astro’s dimensions, building and drivetrain layout is the Ford Aerostar. Having said that, that was retired for 1997 when the Astro was just beginning its 2nd lease on lifestyle. As these, for the time time period we’re wanting at, you can find truly not significantly. For these who definitely want the most passenger ability doable, a larger passenger van primarily based on the Chevrolet Express or GMC Savana would very likely be the improved invest in. A much more gas-economical smaller minivan would be a superior each day car or truck, and in that case you almost certainly want a Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town & Region, a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, specifically if you’re searching for more recent examples.
Of system, if you just want one thing that won’t have the structural integrity of rotten leaves, decide practically nearly anything else.