When you find a good recipe, you use it over and over and over again. Well, at least that’s what Chevy does. The thing is, it’s a dang good recipe.
The 1994 Chevy Astro Van has a 4.3L v6 and 4 speed automatic transmission. I’ve written about a vehicle with the same exact setup before: the 1999 Chevy S10. The engine puts out enough horsepower to get the van moving, just not quickly. Don’t expect to throw down crazy quarter-mile times in a stock Astro. What you can expect is reliable power that will only quit long after the chassis has rusted away. Now the transmission is the infamous 4L60e. I once said that you can stand on any tall building in America, and you will see a car with a 4L60e. I stand by that statement, but as the years go on that will be harder and harder to do. Don’t get me wrong, GM made millions of them, but not for a couple years now. The transmission is a workhorse, doing what you need to do time-and-time again. Just don’t give it more power than it was designed for. If you do, you’ll be the star of the new hit movie “Honey I’ve Only Got Neutrals”. No one wants that.
The interior is ready for anything. With three rows of seating, two of which are removable, the cabin is your sandbox. Which you could literally build into a sandbox. Because the Astro is a product of the 90s, it does have a few 90’s quirks. The most notable quirk is the lack of rear door on the driver’s side. That’s right, there is no sliding door on the driver’s side of the van, only the passenger. This was a 90’s thing, some chalking it up to structural rigidity, and other’s claiming it to be a safety feature so your passengers don’t get out into traffic. Whatever it may be, don’t go on that side of the van unless you plan on driving. The other 90s quirks include tan-beige cloth interior, all green instrument cluster, CD player mounted under the passenger seat, and an overall feeling that everything’s going to be alright. The Astro’s interior is rather nostalgic for me, having grown up in the 2000’s, Astro vans were the vehicle of choice for many families. No, the Astro is not glamorous, but it did it all. It’s the jack of all trades.
Looking at the Astro Van with my 2019 eyes, something has dawned on me. There aren’t many vehicles like it anymore. I mean let’s look at Chevy’s current lineup. The Traverse has a third row, but it’s really only for kids or people under five foot. They have the express van, but that’s more of a fleet vehicle rather than something you could bring home to Mom. There is no replacement for the Astro. There is no “Do it all” vehicle anymore. And to be honest, I think there’s an Astro sized hole in today’s market. I wish there was a modern Astro Van, I think it would make people want to road trip again.
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