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New Car/Review


by Tom Hagin


SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 19,582
Price As Tested                               $24,000(appx)
Engine Type                OHV 12-valve 4.3 liter V6 w/SFI*
Engine Size                                 262 cid/4300 cc
Horsepower                                   180 @ 4400 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               240 @ 2800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                   122.9"/67.9"/204.8
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3763 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    19 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/75R15
Brakes (F/R)                            Disc(ABS)/disc(ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                      Five-passenger/three-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            16/21/18
Payload                                          897 pounds
Towing Capacity                                 5500 pounds
     * Sequential fuel injection

The compact pickup is partly responsible for the huge popularity of trucks for personal use. They're more fuel efficient than their full-sized brothers and are much easier to maneuver around town. The Chevy S-10 pickup has always been a major player in this resurgence. It is available in five models and four trim levels, from the stripped- down Base version to the 4X4 specialist, the ZR2. Our test vehicle for the week came as a extended-cab short bed 4X4 in LS trim.

OUTSIDE - The S-10 offers sharp styling with integrated front and rear bumpers, like the classic Chevy pickups of the late '50s, and new rub strips that encircle the entire truck. Also new this year are a restyled grille, headlamps, front bumper and lower fascia. The rear bumper has been enhanced as well, and has the ability to hold 350 pounds of tongue weight with more convenient hookup points for the trailer safety chains. If serious towing is to be done, we suggest a platform- type trailer hitch to distribute the weight more evenly. Its six-foot cargo box has a low load floor, a quickly detachable tailgate, four tie-down hooks and two-tier loading, which allows a second loading level above the rear fenders. Our truck came with an optional driver's side third door which is a convenience in loading cargo inside the cabin.

INSIDE - LS models come nicely equipped. A standard 60/40 split bench seat includes a fold-down armrest with storage compartments and a pair of cupholders, plus the ability to add a third occupant, though we'd only recommend it for short hops across town. Kids seem to fit well, however. A drawback to adding the third door is that one seating place is eliminated. LS trim also includes an AM/FM stereo, tinted glass, intermittent wipers and dual 12-volt accessory ports. Its gauges are simple to read, and the controls are well-placed and easy to reach, although the radio buttons are on the small side. Air conditioning is optional and most S-10 LS models have it as part of a special no-charge options package. Our truck came equipped this way, and with the special package came alloy wheels, a tachometer and a cassette stereo.

ON THE ROAD - Two-wheel-drive S-10s come standard with a 2.2 liter inline four cylinder engine that pumps 120 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. But when an S-10 is equipped as a 4X4 and heavily laden with optional equipment, the four cylinder just doesn't make the grade. Instead, our test model was powered with a 4.3 liter V6 with 180 horsepower and a 240 pound-feet of torque. Its horsepower rating won't wow the masses but its torque figure is very impressive - especially when it comes time to tow. Equipped with the correct towing package, a four-wheel-drive S-10 can effectively pull up to 5500 pounds - plenty of muscle for a family boat or camp trailer. Platinum-tipped spark plugs and extended life coolant mean service intervals are few and far between. Our test truck used the four speed automatic transmission and we suggest it when ordering the enhanced V6 engine option.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The S-10 ladder-type frame is rugged, even more so since Chevrolet "boxed" its front frame section to make it more resistant to bending and twisting. This enabled Chevy engineers to give firm support for a healthy payload, yet still provide a reasonably compliant ride. Insta-Trac, Chevy's name for the S-10 4WD system, is standard, and features shift-on-the-fly engagement at any speed along with push-button activation of the system. Its also offers a low range for the extreme rough stuff. Chevrolet recommends that trucks equipped this way not be towed as a "dinghy" behind a motorhome. Although our test truck used the standard Z83 smooth ride suspension, our pick would be the rugged ZR2 off-road setup, with its wider track, increased ground clearance, larger tires and numerous other enhancements. Finally four- wheel disc brakes are standard on all 4X4 models, a new feature. All models come standard with a four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - A driver's side airbag, ABS, side-impact door beams and daytime running headlamps are standard.

OPTIONS - The LS Decor exterior trim kit added $276 with no extra charge for a/c, tachometer, aluminum wheels or stereo cassette player.