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Chevy's Astro (and the lesser known GMC Safari) - it's on its way out, that mostly unchanging brick that was once as cool as the space shuttle, that is hip again now that it shares the same shape as the Scion xB. Yeah, its kinda dated now that Dodge has a minivan with easy stow-n-go seats ----- and kinda pricey considering you can get a Chevy Express for almost the same dough...but its THE multi-purpose vehicle that can tow, haul, and do just about everything pretty well -- the "Jack of all trades" in the Chevy stable. I know I'll miss it. I remember the first time I got in one in the 1980's and was wowed by the airplane like controls overhead for lights, etc. How easily impressed I was then.

Personally I would have loved to have seen an Astro Xtreme....

What wild Astro stories can you share with us?







 

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Well, its not an Astro but its the better looking version, the Safari. My Parents got it in 1999 as a used vehicle (It was a 97 model at the time). They needed a car to bring things around (and whats better than a van?) Some thing more fuel efficent than an SUV, and something that can tow, the Safari was perfect. It have me very little trouble when I inherited it from my dad after he got his Seville (My mom has an Acura TL). The Safari was my third car which really made it hard to be found useful (I have a '83 Blazer K5 and had bought a '96 Tahoe LT). However when I needed to move things from Home Depot and back to my house durring rennovations or to help my friends movin stuff, or towing stuff to my friend's house upstate, the Safari was always there. It's interior isn't that bad (design-wise), there are obvious cost cuttings (Hard Plastic, wide gaps, etc.) however it's ergonomics were excellent. Power was fine (even at 190HP) and the trans was excellent except for an electronic modulator which blew. My Safari was a RWD model and I remember the amount of fish-tails it did (Yes even for being that tall, it fishtailed...a lot). Really skilled people must drive this van at normal speeds during inclement weather, its easily the worst weather handeler I have ever owned. However I could never complain, it had a lot of quirks, one for example was when you would leave it in park for a few minutes, turn of the engine, then come back to drive away, the gas petal would get stuck and you would have to tap/pump it a bit to get it loose...not really dangerous nor annoying, just quirky. Here are some pictures that the new owner sent me (I guess to assure me everything was okay?):


I just wish GM doesn't ditch this niche, if they had kept this design clean (under the skin, because I think the current design is Excellent), then they would have had a much better seller. RIP SAFARI/ASTRO!
 

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Too bad, I remember driving our 4X4 Trailblazer in the winter (of course for fun, I put her in 2WD and ripped some 360s in an open area, just for kicks) In 2WD, i'm sure our TB handles a lot like an Astro :p
 

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My parents had two versions of the Astro, a 1990 model 2wd and a 1994 model AWD Extended. Have to say that I like the newer one better. That thing would go in the snow...remember going through a blizzard that dropped 24 inches of snow and that Astro just took it in stride. More than enough power, just not "fast". What else can hold 8 people, tow, and go to just about any location in style?
 

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My parents too had 2 versions of the Astro/Safari. I believe early and late 90s, I don't remember the actual years. They still have their late 90s Safari and I find it a wonderful ride on long distance trips. My "stuff" has made many trips in that Safari, 8 in fact, back and forth from college. Take the back seat out and the you've got hell'a cargo room.

In fact, my father hauls so much stuff in the back that I believe that back seat has been attached since the day he broght it home from the showroom. When I was in high school it was the "couch" for my bedroom. Ahhh good times!

Too bad it's going away, but I can see how it doesn't fit in with today's line up. But I can see a big void in the area of cargo vans.

Ryan
 

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i WISH i had an astro story. in high school i really wanted a short (back when they made a shorter version) black astro. i can still picture it perfectly: quad captains chairs, nice black paint job with a little red pinstriping, some simple, shiny alloy wheels, dark tint, sunroof, lowered a bit for that road-holding stance.

i've been medicated since then. i'm too scared to stop.
 

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My folks still have their '90. It's got over 300K miles on it. It's been through all sorts of stuff, including hitting a deer, and a long road trip with me and a buddy a few years before I got married. Gosh what an ugly car. :) I suggested the Astro to my wife when we needed a larger car for our family, and she said no way. LOL
 
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