We usually use this area to highlight exciting or quirky options in the hopes that we can assist enthusiasts make possibilities that will scratch a weird-auto itch, but even between the strange, the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari (we’ll refer to them collectively as the “Astro” for simplicity below) is a little bit of an odd duck. This six- or 8-passenger van (a cargo model was offered much too) wasn’t quite a complete-sized van, nor was it a “accurate,” auto-centered minivan, but some shoppers find the Astro’s ‘tweener footprint to be just appropriate.
This isn’t the very first time we’ve highlighted a minivan in this featurette, but the Astro is definitely no Mazda5. In fact, even by ’90s minivan requirements, the Astro was quite slow and ponderous, and it was under no circumstances identified for staying a fuel miser. Oh, and it was about as safe and sound as strapping yourself to the entrance of a browsing cart run by a lawnmower engine and then tying your hands driving your back.
But at the cost of fuel economy, it available all-wheel travel and a a little bit much larger sort component that built it much more capable as a tower and hauler than scaled-down, motor vehicle-primarily based minivans. It also borrowed some of its core powertrain elements from GM’s scaled-down trucks and vans, which helped make it a bit extra robust.
Why the Astro?
The picture earlier mentioned truly tells the tale. Whilst the Astro may well have been largely cobbled collectively from objects acquired from GM’s various existing vehicles and vans, it was not just a bucket of spare components without the need of a coherent mission. The Astro was engineered to be rugged and sturdy, with rocker panels that have been created to resist corrosion. The over is a photo of a 2005 design that put in time each on the East Coastline and in Illinois, and was for sale in Michigan at the time this report was posted. Not undesirable, eh?
Aside from that, its utility genuinely speaks for alone. Depending on the calendar year and machines, some Astros have been rated to tow far more than 5,000 kilos. Their truck-based mostly underpinnings, obtainable all-wheel generate and added floor clearance make them excellent candidates for gentle overlanding expeditions, as quite a few hikers in the Pacific Northwest (where Astros appear to be to be preferred spending plan path-head scouts) have likely discovered. They are also exceptional truck replacements in a pinch. With the seats taken out, extensive-wheelbase models (afterwards product yrs, primarily) can maintain 4×8 sheets of plywood even with the rear doors shut.
What choices should I look for?
This is definitely down to personalized choice. There looks minimal position in opting for a product devoid of all-wheel push, as a two-wheel-generate instance of a smaller minivan would be far far more effective and snug for day-to-day driving. The Astro is perhaps finest identified for becoming offered with a “Dutch” doorway solution for the tailgate, changing the regular barn-door setup with a three-piece arrangement (as pictured higher than). The different doorways allow for for extra overall flexibility when accessing the rear cargo place. We wouldn’t call it a gotta-have-it feature, but some customers may uncover the advantage worthwhile.
The Astro was also available to upfitters, this means there are numerous customized illustrations out there with extra-high-class interior appointments or cargo region enhancements. Make guaranteed to check these more than carefully to be certain that any added attributes are secured and functioning as anticipated.
Availability and listings
Thanks to its challenging body and truck-dependent functioning gear, Astros are rather good survivors, and getting them in decent shape for a fair rate is relatively effortless to do. Cleaner, decrease-mileage illustrations are inclined to be identified in the mid-higher four-figure selection, as evidenced by those people found in Autoblog‘s neighborhood listings. Slender the offerings down by a radius all over your ZIP code, and pay out awareness to the deal rating on each listing to see how a vehicle compares with others in a equivalent location.
Note that if you increase your search to include earlier model several years than the array proposed in this article, you can expect to only obtain rear-wheel push types prior to 1990, which was the initial calendar year AWD was presented as an choice.
What else need to I contemplate?
In addition to its GMC Safari clone, the only van that actually matches the Astro’s sizing, development and drivetrain structure is the Ford Aerostar. Having said that, that was retired for 1997 when the Astro was just commencing its next lease on everyday living. As these, for the time period of time we’re searching at, there’s definitely not considerably. For those who definitely have to have the most passenger potential probable, a greater passenger van based on the Chevrolet Specific or GMC Savana would probable be the improved acquire. A far more gasoline-economical smaller minivan would be a far better everyday car, and in that circumstance you possibly want a Dodge Caravan or Chrysler City & Place, a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, in particular if you’re purchasing for newer examples.
Of training course, if you just want one thing that does not have the structural integrity of rotten leaves, select pretty much anything else.