Chevrolet Astro Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.00/5 Average
297 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

While today's minivans offer levels of comfort and performance on par with sedans, the Chevrolet Astro was a minivan from a different era. Born in the mid-1980s when full-size Chevy vans were still in style, the Astro modeled the looks of its bigger brothers. It also shared their tough body-on-frame construction and rear-wheel-drive layout. Compared to front-wheel-drive, car-based minivans, the Chevy Astro was a true workhorse with considerable towing and hauling capabilities.

However, it was nowhere close to more modern minivans when it came to day-to-day convenience and driving ease. Its old-school, box-on-wheels design located the engine within close proximity of the passenger compartment, resulting in cramped quarters for the driver and front passenger, and high cabin noise levels. Getting kids in and out wasn't easy either, thanks to the van's high step-in height and single sliding rear door.

Ride and handling characteristics weren't bad considering the Astro's rudimentary suspension components, though driving it was certainly more akin to a truck than a car. Fuel economy was similarly trucklike, given the engine's origins in GM's light truck line and the Astro's hefty curb weight. Chevrolet did offer the Astro van with an all-wheel-drive system, which made it one of the handful of vans, mini or otherwise, capable of tracking confidently through snow and ice.

To be sure, the Chevrolet Astro fulfilled the basic requirements for a minivan, given its accommodations for up to eight passengers, removable rear seats and considerable 170 cubic feet of cargo room. But given that car-based competitors like the Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna have long been far nicer to drive and easier to use, we don't recommend the anachronistic Astro as a used vehicle choice unless you're in need of a small tow vehicle or family/cargo hauler at a rock-bottom price.

Most Recent Chevrolet Astro

Introduced for 1985, the Chevrolet Astro, and its twin, the GMC Safari, lived on through the 2005 model year without a major redesign. Along with Ford's Aerostar (which debuted the following year), the Astro was a stopgap response to the wildly popular Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager twins. Truck-based underpinnings put these late entries at a significant disadvantage alongside the front-drive Chrysler minis, and both GM and Ford eventually undertook clean-sheet minivan designs. However, a niche market emerged for the Astro, and Chevrolet sold it profitably to ordinary consumers and fleet customers alike for the next two decades.

A 4.3-liter V6 was standard on all Chevrolet Astro passenger vans. (Early cargo versions came with a four-cylinder engine.) This engine went through several iterations, producing anywhere from 150 to 200 horsepower, depending on the year and model. It held steady at 190 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque from 1997-2005. Initially, GM offered a standard five-speed manual transmission, but almost all Astros were sold with a four-speed automatic that soon became the sole transmission offering. Early vans were exclusively rear-wheel drive; Chevrolet added the option of all-wheel drive in 1990. Towing capacity was right around 6,000 pounds with either drivetrain.

Chevy Astros of the 1980s seated only five passengers in two rows. In 1990, Chevrolet created an Extended version that was 10 inches longer (190 inches overall) and could be equipped with a third-row bench, increasing capacity to eight. Notably, it rode atop the same 111-inch wheelbase as the standard van. From 1995 onward, Chevrolet sold only the extended-length Astro.

Standard equipment varied over the years, but most Astros you encounter on the used market will have 15-inch wheels (16s starting in 2003), power steering, air-conditioning, cloth seating, an AM/FM stereo, power accessories and cruise control. Options included rear air-conditioning, leather upholstery, second-row bucket seats (reducing seating capacity to seven), upgraded stereos, towing preparation and a locking rear differential.

The Chevrolet Astro changed remarkably little over the years, though there were some noteworthy developments. Four-wheel antilock brakes were made standard on Astro passenger vans in 1990. The brake system was upgraded again in 2003, when the van's rear drum brakes were swapped out for discs. A driver-side front airbag first became available in 1993, and Chevy made it standard the next year. Dual front airbags were fitted to all vans starting in '96. The addition of airbags improved the Astro's crashworthiness in government frontal-impact tests, but prospective buyers should note that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the van "Poor" (the lowest possible score) in its higher-speed, frontal-offset crash test -- hardly a surprise given the vehicle's aged structural design.

A 1995 face-lift gave the Astro a fresher exterior look. The face-lift spread to the interior in 1996, bringing an all-new dashboard with easy-to-use controls. Speed-sensitive power steering was added to ease parking in 1997, and in 1999, Chevrolet adopted a new all-wheel-drive system that sent power to the front wheels only when the rear wheels began to slip -- thus improving fuel economy.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 297.00
  • Astro Snow Mobile - 2002 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    bought the astro w 130,000 mi. 3yrs ago. 160know. Replaced a jeep cherokee with it and so happy with our choice. More cargo and smoother ride. Mine is not a soccer mom mobil. It's the Toy Box. And I have a long playlist. Take one seat out. still seat 5 comfortably. and put 5 bikes in the back. Or skis or snowboards... climbing gear... windsurf/kitesurf rigs... or a mixture of them all. In the winter move the seat to the back row and you have a nice space to put ski boots on or have lunch between snowkite sessions or sleep in it..rear heat works great. No need for a rocket box. but it has factory racks so easy to do if needed. Hook up a trailer and pull 4 dirt bikes or two snowmobiles no worries. Right now its winter and this van loves it. So stable on ice and snow. Good tires of course do help a lot. We ski little cottonwood cny and chase wind for snowkiting so often driving in blizzards. Its weight is well proportioned to its size and make it a smooth reliable snow mobile. The gears work awesome. Just put it in 1st or 2nd on steep snowy downhills and you barley need to use the brakes. I work on the great salt lake, if it's not stormy, and have to commute across a 15 mile dirt road which gets icy, horribly washboarded, and rutted this time of year. Set the cruz control at 45 and let the S-10 chassy do the work. although i have had to replace fuel pump and catalytic converter, normal stuff for its age, affordable parts and minimal labor made it no big deal. I recommend this van to all fun hogs... especially snow lovers.

  • Best vehicle I ever had - 1999 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    I bought mine new in 2000. drove it to eveywhere, San Fran, Sac town, mountains several times, Ariizona, Utah, Las Vegas,.....You get the point. Like all vehicles the key is maintenance. If you take care of your vehicle, it will take care of you. Don't get me wrong it had some hick ups like I changed the alternator, I did a fuel injector swap, changed the fuel pump but other than that. It ran like a top. Never hard to start. I did do some modes. cold air intake, cat back system and after towing like crazy I decided to change rear leaf springs to high capacity leafs springs. I loved that van, and would still have after 14 years but some idiot ran into it while it was parked and totaled it.

  • Outstanding mechanical quality - 1994 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    We have owned this van since it was new on '94 and it just passed it's 19th birthday, has 288,000 miles, original engine and drive train. We have pulled camper trailers in 40+ states plus a couple of states without a camper. Only a few drips of oil and still getting just shy of sticker mileage. Too bad they quit making them. Only in the past year did it pop any rust holes but living in the upper Midwest that is fantastic too.

  • Good Bye Old Pal - 2000 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    I'm sad to say that my 2000 Chevy Astro is getting onto its last legs and GM doesn't make the any more. I bought mine used with 85,000 km off a 4 year lease in 2004. i have to that this has been the longest lasting, least expensive vehicle I have ever owned. Secretly, I think GM stopped making these because they were too reliable. My Astro now has over 270,000 km and I had no problems other than normal wear and tear. I'm still running on my second brake job with the rear drums never having been touched. Tires seem to last forever on the Astro - at least mine do. It still has the original muffler. I' using AMSOil synthetic and I change it every 40,000 km. Sad to see it go....

  • Good hauler but nickeled and dimed to death - 1995 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    We bought the '95 in 2004 for $4000. It had A/C, AWD and seating for 8. We had just had our 4th child so needed something that could seat 6 so that threw out most of the cars from the equation. I loved this van but it started to cost money and working under the hood was a real pain due to the engine compartment being so small and the "dog house" in the interior having to be removed to work on anything. Mechanics automatically charge more to work on these types of vehicle since there is a lot of effort to gain access to the parts that need to be replaced. Luckily, I could do a lot of the work my self. For the 5 years we owned it, I put about $1000-1500 each year into it.

  • Poor Quality Build - Nightmare Experience - 1998 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    Awful build quality - it is too bad since the Astro fits a perfect niche for families with diverse outdoor interests. They made this vehicle out of trash - and it did not help with the dealer contesting every warranty claim. The extended warranty saved us $10k in unexpected, chronic breakdowns. Security Chevrolet in Vista, California, now out of business was the nightmare dealer.

  • DON'T DO IT! - 1993 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    Terrible terrible terrible! Wish I'd researched a little more before purchasing! Granted, a 1993 can't be expected to be stellar. That said, I didn't know a used car could be this awful! My Subaru with 260,000 miles has always run like a champ with routine oil changes and a few small things here and there, so I assumed I would be as lucky with this van. Not so! It only has 140,000 miles, purchased with 133,000. I've already put thousands into it and just trying to get rid of it now.

  • good van for anything - 1999 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    love this van, its a Custom Craft. problems are no locks, keyless entry doesn't work, driver side window motor is a no go, don't have access to the trunk, fuel sender does not work, ne fuel pump put in at 130k, ball joints are going, when it shifts between 1st and 2nd it "jumps, hard shifting" check the fluid and its alright does well in the snow perfect donuts (just once, no more) had this van on many numerous trips its a good van, but it gets 13mpg city and 16 highway, 4.3 Lt. V6 Vortex

  • Bullet Proof Family Hauler - 2003 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    My wife and I purchased a used Chevy Astro after researching other vehicles. For the money, it cannot be beat. It is incredibly reliable and has ample room for our five children. We looked at a Toyota Sequoia, Honda Pilot, and car-based minivans such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. We kept coming to the same conclusion that the Astro with its reliable engine and transmission, room for 8 and low ownership cost was tough to beat. With essentially the same drivetrain since '85, Chevy worked out all the kinks. We picked ours up for $7,200 with 74,900 miles. I analyzed the cost per mile and the Astro was far cheaper than any comparable vehicle. We intend to keep the vehicle until it dies.

  • Can do it all! - 2000 Chevrolet Astro
    By -

    This is my second Astro and it is so capable of doing everything. It has a truck frame which allows towing large campers, gets 19 mpg on highway when which is awesome for a AWD van/truck this size. Walks through snow and ice with ease. Strong winds push it around a little on interstate. Finally had to replace something at 119,000 miles, a starter which was very easy to replace myself. Plugs aren't too bad if you pull the front wheel off. Overall we love this (boxy) design, because you sit up so high you can see what's going on in front of you. This van is better than any other minivan we have owned, Mazda, Plymouth, better than our Toyota 4x4 pickup. Great Van, bring it back.

Chevrolet Astro Reviews By Year:
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