Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
New Crew Cab model expands versatility.
Depending on how it's ordered, Chevrolet's S-10 Pickup can be a no-nonsense work truck with vinyl seats and full-floor vinyl covering. Or it can be more like that other car in the driveway, as with the LS model's full carpeting and velour Deluxe Custom Cloth seats. Now there's an all-new 4WD Crew Cab model with sedan-like amenities and roominess along with the utility of a pickup.
Whether hauling manure, driving to work or heading into the backcountry, the S-10 LS can provide car-like comfort - or close to it - even with four-wheel drive.
Two basic trim levels are available in the S-10 pickup line: the rubber-floor mat base model and the LS, which offers full civilian comfort.
That's only the beginning, however, as the S-10, like most pickups, comes in a variety of configurations. Both are available with either conventional rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Regular cab 2WD S-10 is available with in short box, long box and extended cab versions that span wheelbases of 108.3 inches, 117.9 inches and 122.9 inches respectively.
4x2 models come standard with a 120-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. A 180-horsepower 4.3-liter V6 is an option on 2WD S-10s.
4x4 models come in regular cab short box or extended cab models, and the new for '01 Crew Cab.
All 4WD S-10s come standard with the V6, which is tuned to produce 190 horsepower.
A 4-speed automatic is optional with either engine.
Two option packages are, as far as we are concerned, separate models unto themselves: the Xtreme, a low ride-height highly styled cruising truck, and the ZR2 Wide Stance Sport Performance Package that, with a higher ride height, wider track and even a stronger frame, is ready for the toughest of off-road duties.
The S-10 mimics the big Chevy pickups with the horizontal bar grille and nicely rounded contours. It looks like a truck. No trick, no gimmicks, just sincere serviceability.
Our test truck had an accessory bedliner available from dealers, good for keeping the double-wall pickup box safe from dents and scratches. The bed has four tie-downs, one at the upper edge of each corner. More would be helpful, actually, in securing loads of various sizes.
The standard 4x4 S-10 doesn't shout its identity, though the P235/75R15 on/off road tires are a hint. And if you know your S-10 wheel availability chart, you'll know that these five-spoke aluminum wheels (freshened for 2001) are available only with four-wheel drive.
More important for those with work to do: The tailgate on the 4x4 drops for a 27.2-inch lift-over height, actually lower than the long box and extended cab 4x2 S-10s.
The LS interior is nicely finished in a premium cloth that resembles velour. Our truck had a charcoal interior theme that looked like it would hold up well to regular use. The door panels included cloth sections, but frequent touch areas around the door controls and rear sill area were covered in vinyl. The cloth feels good to the touch.
From the radio dials to the dashboard, it's obvious Chevrolet spent a lot of time and energy into getting the appropriate feel, mostly soft-touch, for the interior appointments. Our test truck had the optional leather-wrapped steering wheel; it has the minipack airbag that affords a better view of the gauges and lets the steering wheel look like a steering wheel, not a pillow with hand grips.
The S-10 has full instrumentation that's easily legible day or night. The four-wheel-drive controls are fully electronic, push buttons easily reached on the dash. Although the system is part-time only, the system allows shift-on-the-fly into and out of 4-high.
The truck must be stopped to shift the transfer case into 4-low, of course, but it still only requires pushing a button. A neutral position is also available that allows the truck to be flat towed without disconnecting driveshafts.
The radio and heating and air conditioning controls are large, legible and so easy to use that their respective sections in the owners manual may never be read.
Our S-10 had the $295 optional third door. Chevrolet puts the third door on its full-size pickups on the passenger side, presuming that the rear door will more often be used by passenger who will wish to exit on the curb side. The S-10, on the other hand, has its third door on the driver's side, the logic being that it would more often be used by the driver for stowing extra gear. But when dropping off someone at the curb, it means they must venture into traffic to get to any cargo. Chevy is correct, however, in presuming that the jump seat in the extended cab will seldom be used for passengers. It's cramped for an adult, and requires that the front passenger seat be moved forward to permit any kind of shoulder room. The extended cab sure is handy for carrying stuff you don't want in the bed, however.
Need more passenger room? Check out the new Crew Cab. It doesn't have the rear-seat leg room of a Cadillac DeVille, but it can accommodate five actual adults.
With all the options and various configurations, it's difficult to name a typical S-10 pickup. We tested the 4x4 LS with an automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive gives the S-10 added traction in slippery conditions and makes it more capable when venturing off road, but its primary use is intended for paved or gravel roads. Four-wheel drive helps getting back up slippery boat launch ramps, and is recommended for heavy-duty hauling.
The 4WD Chevy S-10 is definitely a truck. It has a live rear axle on leaf springs and a gross vehicle weight rating of 5150 pounds over a curb weight of 3616 pounds, and a heavy 4x4 drivetrain attached to the front hubs. So ride will be compromised. One can't expect a truck to ride like a car. And it doesn't. You can feel the front wheels trying to continue to bounce after hitting a bump, and the load-carrying rear springs not wanting to compress over minor bumps in the road.
That said, the S-10 rides well over smooth pavement and the Goodyear tires are quiet. The engine is smooth. It's silent at idle and quiet down the road, and not particularly loud at full throttle. There's only a minimum of wind noise. A long trip on smooth asphalt would be a delight, but frost-heaved concrete would be a nightmare.
The V6 engine is not only quiet, but strong. Its 250 foot-pounds of torque responds instantly to propel the S-10 through traffic, whether accelerating to merge onto the freeway or to pass a semi on a two-lane road. Earlier examples of this engine have been thrashy at high rpm, but over the years it has been refined to where it is not as slick as, say, a BMW six, but you won't go reaching for your earplugs when you get in the truck.
The S-10 tracks well, with little correction required to maintain a straight line. The predominant cornering mode is understeer, which suits a pickup well, as adding a load shifts weight balance rearward. Unloaded, the front tires will moan a protest long before danger of exceeding their limits is reached. Add 600 pounds of cinder block in the bed and the ride will be smoother and the cornering balance more even. It will ruin your around-town fuel mileage however, and increase your braking distances, though not severely. According to EPA tests, you can expect 17 mpg in city driving and 22 on the highway with the automatic transmission.
It all comes down to this. The Chevrolet S-10 is a truck. It rides like a truck, it corners like a truck and, as a truck, it has more cargo room than passenger room. If that's what you need, or if that's what you want, you most likely won't mind a ride that will never compare to that of an automobile. In that regard, the S-10 is like a steel glove lined with, well, not velvet, but velour.
A Chevy pickup is a safe buy, a known quantity with dealer service in every other town, which is nice to know even if you don't need it as much as you once did.
2WD Fleetside Base Shortbox Regular Cab ($12,749); 2WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Regular Cab ($13,778); 2WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Extended Cab ($16,079); 2WD Fleetside LS Longbox Regular Cab ($14,129); 4WD Fleetside LS Shortbox Extended Cab ($18,906); 4WD Fleetside LS Longbox Extended Cab ($20,232); 4WD Fleetside LS Crew Cab ($24,809).
Options As Tested
ETR AM/FM/CD stereo ($302); Survival Pak Package ($1,412) includes CD player, a/c, aluminum wheels, floor mats; 4-speed automatic transmission ($1,095); Convenience Group ($795) includes power windows, locks, heated outside rearview mirrors; tilt wheel & speed control ($395); third door ($295); locking rear differential ($270); P235/75R15 on/off road steel belt white letter tires ($143); underbody shield package ($126); sliding rear window ($120); fog lamps ($115); deep tinted glass ($75); full size spare ($95); leather wrapped steering wheel ($54); less Survival Pak Savings (-$1,325).
4WD Fleetside LS Longbox Extended Cab ($20,232).
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