There’s a lot to be said for producing the same model year after year. Sure, you may be looked upon as uninspired or downright lazy by the automotive press and motoring snobs everywhere, but the fact remains that every car company needs a carryover or two. By virtue of their long production runs, all the bugs have been worked out. And the tooling? That was paid for a long time ago. Of course, the reason carryovers can carry over is because they offer certain advantages the competition doesn’t. For example, the Astro has an impressive 5400 lb, towering capacity (5800 lb. in the cargo van), and payload of up to eight passengers. And it’s your only choice if you want a rear wheel drive minivan (with the exception of its sister, the GMC Safari). It’s the perfect sensible size van for towering duty. The standard 4.3 liter V6 makes 190 bhp and 250 lb-ft. of torque, and now operates sans an exhaust gas recirculation valve courtesy of catalytic converter improvements and engine computer tweaks. The 4L60E-4 speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox choice, but the rear end can be equipped with either 3.42 (standard) or 3.73 gearing.
A new synthetic rear axle lubricant reduces axle operating temperature during towering and hauling. The Astro cargo van option gets these revisions, plus available remote keyless entry (when equipped with power windows and locks), a rear heater and gray cloth seats. LS trim is standard in the passenger van and includes an AM/FM stereo with compact disc player, power door locks, windows and mirrors, remote key less entry, cruise control and chrome clad steel wheels.