Chevy Astro 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 van with Chevy Accessories like 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.