Chevrolet Astro might be categorized as a minivan but its towing capabilities and engine performance can match its full-sized van counterparts. Made to compete with the Toyota Van, Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, Chevrolet released the rear-wheel drive Astro in 1985. The Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari, which shared the same platform, were used as passenger vehicles, converters, and cargo vans.
Built for work
The mighty Chevrolet Astro is set between the Chevrolet Venture minivan and the full-size Chevrolet Express in terms of size. Most front-wheel drive trucks and minivans are only capable of carrying up to 3,500 lbs. But with its rear-wheel drive setup and the Powertrain components unique to General Motor light trucks, the Chevrolet Astro is capable of towing 5,500 lbs. of load provided that it is properly equipped.
The ‘big’ minivan: first generation (1985-1994)
When it was first marketed, the Chevrolet Astro promised its buyers that purchasing the vehicle will make them realize that “life is too big for a minivan.” With its capacity of eight passengers and its incredible towing and hauling capabilities, the Astro proved that even the smallest vans can provide big services to people.
The Chevrolet Astro, just like its GMC Safari sibling, incorporated the front suspension of a GM B-body station wagon with a leaf-spring rear suspension through a bolt-on sub-frame. It was also available in various engine options like the 145 horsepower and 190 horsepower 4.4-liter V6 engines. The 200 horsepower W engine was also one of the options.
The all-wheel drive option, which was designed by FF Developments, became available for the first generation Astro in 1990. Although it was the latest feature at that time, it wasn’t really practical because of its low fuel efficiency rate of 17 miles per gallon. A new dash board and the hydro-boost braking system were also added as new features for that same year.
The “Dutch Doors” feature was added in 1992. When 1993 came, the electronically-operated four-speed automatic transmission and Scotchgard seat fabric protection became standard features. The colors Indigo, Medium Quasar Blue Metallic, Blue Metallic, and Light Quasar Blue Metallic became options for the exterior body paint. In 1994, the Chevrolet Astro received an all-new CFC-free air-conditioning system.
The makeover and idle years: second generation (1995-2005)
The last few exterior, interior, and engine modifications for the Chevrolet Astro came in 1995, 1996, and 2003. The van’s fascia was redesigned in 1995. Since then, it featured an extended nose and a longer body length. When 1996 came, the interior was refurbished with an all-new dash board equipped with an airbag on the passenger side. Both the Astro and the Safari received upgrades in their chassis in 2003. Since this last chassis modification, the Chevrolet Astro stayed the same until its production and distribution concluded in 2005.