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1996 CHEVROLET S-10 LS 4X2

by Tom Hagin

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 11,610
     Price As Tested                                    $ 12,381
     Engine Type                             2.2 liter I4 w/SFI*
     Engine Size                                 134 cid/2189 cc
     Horsepower                                   118 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               130 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   108.3"/67.9"/188.6
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     2897 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/75R15
     Brakes (F/R)                              Disc-ABS/drum-ABS
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Three-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                 92 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            23/30/27
    Payload                                         1654 pounds
     Towing Capacity                                 2000 pounds
     * Sequential fuel injection

Chevrolet's S-10 pickup was redesigned in 1994, and it's in tune with the '90s truck buyer. Chevrolet states that 90 percent of the compact pickup owners purchase their vehicles for personal use.

The S-10 is available in six 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 regular-cab short bed, with LS trim.

OUTSIDE - The S-10 offers sharp styling with integrated front and rear bumpers, and sweeping side molding that runs end-to-end. New this year are two Sportside models which feature muscular rear fenders and a small step on the side, but at the expense of cargo capacity. Also new this year is an extra door on the driver's side of Extended Cab models, which greatly enhances access to the compartment behind the seats. The company is very concerned with corrosion resistance, and has given S-Series pickups two-side galvanized steel for all body panels except for the roof and cargo box, plus six-years or 100,000-miles of corrosion protection. The 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. A nice touch is the standard full-sized spare tire mounted under the cargo bed.

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, although it's a tight squeeze. LS trim also includes an AM/FM stereo, tinted glass, twin outside mirrors, intermittent wipers and dual power ports for operating 12-volt accessories. 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, but most S-10 LS models are equipped with it, some 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 - Our test model was powered by the standard 2.2 liter inline four-cylinder engine which produces a modest 118 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. Installed in the short-bed regular cab model, it provides plenty of power for most needs, and gives excellent fuel economy. A more powerful optional V6 engine is available with two-wheel-drive models, and is standard on 4X4 S-10s. Last year's 4.3 liter V6 has been enhanced to give 25 more horsepower and five more lb-ft of torque. Chevy's hot S-10 Super Sport model comes this way, and zips to 60 mph in a just eight seconds. Our test truck used the standard five-speed manual transmission, which gave the four-cylinder engine some added pep. An electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission is optional, and we suggest it when ordering the enhanced V6 engine option.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - To further prove that Chevrolet wants to offer an S-10 for almost anyone, seven chassis packages are available; three on 2WD models, the rest are offered on 4X4s. The S-10's 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. Its unloaded ride is helped by two-stage rear leaf springs which give a smooth ride when the bed is empty, but when weight is introduced into the cargo area, a shorter, stiffer set of auxiliary leaf springs come in play. A new optional sport suspension is available on Regular-Cab S-10 pickups, which includes special coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers, large front and rear stabilizer bars, variable-ratio power steering and larger tires. Braking is accomplished with front disc and rear drum brakes, while all S-10 models come standard with a four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS).

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

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