1996 Chevrolet Astro Van

Ext 111' WB RWD

Starting at | Starting at 16 MPG City - 20 MPG Highway

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  • $19,176 original MSRP

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Printable Version

1996 Chevrolet Astro Van

Printable Version

1996 Chevrolet Astro Van


Pre-Owned Profile: 1985-1996 Chevrolet Astro

Source: AutoTrader.com

The Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari are the only rear wheel drive Minivans still on the market since 1997


Chevrolet's Astro minivan (along with its identical twin GMC Safari) are the only rear wheel drive minivans on the market since the Ford Aerostar was discontinued in 1998. Because it is rear drive the Astro is much more truck like in looks and feel than other minivans.

This is a benefit if you need to tow a trailer or a boat as the vehicle's towing capability is much greater than those of front drive minivans. What's more the vehicle is available with permanent 4WD as well.

Since 1995 all Astros have been powered by a 190 horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 engine that produces the highest torque in any minivan. It is the largest displacement engine in any minivan, which is another benefit for towing. If you need a vehicle for hauling passengers, cargo and towing but want something other than a SUV take a look at the Astro (or the Safari).


What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1997 Chevrolet Astro

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Astro

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Safety Information

8. Value Guide

9. Option Installment Rate

10. Sales History

11. Awards and Commendations Earned

12. Other Reviews

13. Recall Information

14. Price of Spare Parts


1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Evaluation - 1997 Chevrolet Astro

Likes: rear drive good for towing, capacious interior, 4WD availability

Dislikes: so-so handling, bouncy ride on rough roads

Competitors: (on same platform: GMC Safari), Ford Aerostar, Ford Windstar, Toyota Previa, Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager

Miles: 43,000

Condition: B

Price when new: $22,300 (est.)

Posted Price: $17,430 (March 1999)

You can tell this minivan is different from the others on the market when you climb up into the driver's seat - it's much more like getting into a full-size van. Once you're seated the driving position is more upright and the steering wheel is almost vertical. But once you're moving the vehicle behaves more like a regular minivan than you might expect from first sight.

Because this is a truck-based minivan the ride is not quite as smooth as the other minivans which are based on car platforms. However, it is smoother than most SUVs. The steering felt fine although I'd have liked it to have a little more road feel. What impressed me most was the low-end torque. It is powered by the largest engine in any minivan and it shows. The vehicle pulls away from a start with plenty of power. It's no wonder it has a 5500 lb. towing capacity, which is considerably more than for any other minivan.

Beyond this the Astro is similar to other minivans, although it does have a larger interior volume for cargo carrying. It only has a sliding side door on the passenger side but it has the usual two rows of seats in the rear that can be removed for cargo carrying. The second bench seat can be ordered as a three-seater letting the vehicle carry a total of eight passengers or it can be specified as two captain's chairs. The vehicle I tested had a regular bench seat carrying two passengers which allows better access to the third row of seats.

One of the negative aspects of this vehicle is the split rear doors, which hinder vision in the rear view mirror. However a popular option is the Dutch doors which split the rear door into three sections. The top half is all glass and has to be opened separately from the split lower half. This improves vision and improves access at the same time. The vehicle I tested did not have this option and I found the rear door pillars did obstruct rearward vision slightly.

Although the Astro has been on the market since 1985 it has been upgraded over the years. The most recent changes occurred between 1995 and 1997 and included a freshened front end and a revised dashboard to accommodate airbags. The vehicle I drove had the newest dash and I quite liked it as the gauges are well placed in front of the driver and are easy to read. The dash has a pretty dramatic appearance but lacks a glovebox for the passenger. Because the engine compartment and wheel well intrude into the passenger compartment more than in most minivans the front passenger does not have much floor space.

Overall the vehicle I tested was in fairly good condition. It had a few small dings and the rear bumper had some scuff marks. My biggest disappointment was the center storage bin, which was loose. It was as though the weight of big Slurpies in the large cupholder had caused it to break loose from the dashboard!

All manufacturers sell optional minivans as cargo vans with no side windows but most cargo models only sell in small numbers. The Astro on the other hand sells well in this area with about one third of them being cargo vans. The price for a pre-owned cargo van is much lower than for a passenger van so if you don't need to carry more than two people look into a cargo version as an alternative.

About 15% of Astros are equipped with a permanent all-wheel-drive system. If you need traction in snowy weather or just like the added safety in slippery conditions this is another reason to look for an Astro (or Safari). Chrysler sells AWD minivans as well but at a much lower rate of installation, making them harder to find as a pre-owned vehicle.

If you need a minivan with good towing capabilities and you don't want a SUV take a look at a pre-owned Chevrolet Astro. It offers the benefits of a minivan with the added toughness of a truck-like chassis, a powerful engine and the most cargo space.


2. Summing It Up - Owners Views

"great power for towing"
"can pull tree stumps!"
"150,000 miles - no problems"

"high step up"


3. History of Astro

The phenomenal success of the Chrysler minivan when it was first introduced in 1984 spurred GM and Ford to come out with their own versions. However, instead of adopting a car platform both companies built their minivans on truck platforms. Although they did not offer as good a ride they were perceived as being tougher and were much better for towing.

The Chevrolet Astro and its twin the GMC Safari were introduced in 1985. In 1990 an extended version with a longer body was added to the lineup along with optional all-wheel-drive system. Between 1991 and 1994 an optional high output engine was offered. It had the same capacity but produced 30 more horsepower than the regular 4.3-liter V-6 engine.

In 1995 the Astro got a facelift with a redesigned nose and a revised dashboard arrived a year later. At the same time the short-bodied model was dropped from the lineup and only one engine was offered.

Despite the popularity of front-drive car-based minivans Chevrolet decided to keep producing the Astro even after Ford dropped its rear-drive Aerostar in 1997, in favor of its front-drive Windstar.


4. Review of Current Astro

Apart from the revised looks and improved dashboard there has been little change in the Astro since the early 1990s when the more powerful engines appeared. Although the ride is not as good as in other minivans it is still much better than in most SUVs. Considering the design of the vehicle dates back to 1985 it has been constantly upgraded and it still holds up well against the much newer competition. I think GM is sensible to keep providing an alternative to the front-drive minivans.


5. Basic Facts: 1992 - 1999 Astro

Vehicle Type: Compact Minivan

No. Passengers: up to 8

Origin of assembly: Baltimore, MD

Engine: (standard): 4.3-liter 165 hp V-6 ('92-'94); 4.3-liter 190 hp V-6 ('95 on)

(optional): 4.3-liter 200 hp V-6 ('92-'94)

Transmission: 4-spd automatic; rear-drive or AWD

Length: 190 inches (also 177 inches available until 1994)

Wheelbase: 111 inches

Width: 78 inches

Height: 76 inches

Curb weight: 3900 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo volume: 170 cu. ft. (also 152 cu. ft. available until 1994)

Fuel tank capacity: 27 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 16/21


6. Changes in the Chevrolet Astro Line 1992 - 1999

1992 Model Year

Dutch door option introduced

1993 Model Year

New electronic automatic transmission introduced

1994 Model Year

Driver side airbag added

1995 Model Year

Front-end redesigned

4.3 liter 190 hp V6 engine becomes standard

All models are extended length version

1996 Model Year

New interior

Passenger side airbag

Engine improved

1997 Model Year

Daytime running lamps added

1998 Model Year

Next generation airbags

1999 Model Year

No significant changes


7. Safety Notes

NHTSA Crash rating ('96 model year): Driver 3; Passenger 3 (5 is best)

ABS standard on all Astro models from 1990

Driver side air bag standard from 1994, dual air bags standard from 1996


8. Value Guide

Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed as these are usually "stripped" models. In many cases very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1992 Model Year

New: $15,125 to $24,015

1993 Model Year

New: $16,145 to $24,395

1994 Model Year

New: $16,474 to $25,286

1995 Model Year

New: $18,925 to $26,628

1996 Model Year

New: $20,321 to $27,521

1997 Model Year

New: $20,168 to $27,952

1998 Model Year

New: $20,223 to $27,650


9. Option Installment Rate

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1992 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 31%

Passenger van 69%

4WD: 13%

Air Conditioning 99%

Cruise Control: 94%

Power Windows: 72%

1993 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 29%

Passenger van 71%

4WD: 15%

Air Conditioning 99%

Cruise Control: 95%

Power Windows: 69%

1994 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 36%

Passenger van 64%

4WD: 17%

Air Conditioning 99%

Cruise Control: 91%

Power Windows: 85%

1995 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 39%

Passenger van 61%

4WD: 19%

Cruise Control: 92%

Power Windows: 85%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 52%

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 34%

Passenger van 66%

4WD: 16%

Cruise Control: 95%

Power Windows: 88%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 52%

1997 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 32%

Passenger van 68%

4WD: 16%

Cruise Control: 95%

Power Windows: 89%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 52%

1998 Model Year

Installment Rate

Body Style:

Cargo van 33%

Passenger van 67%

4WD: 19%

Cruise Control: 80%

Power Windows: 50%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 39%

Leather Seats: 6%


10. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, often include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers/Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1992 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1991 through Sept. 1992

Total number produced: NA

Total no. sold in U.S.: 114,003

1993 Model Year

Production run: Oct.1992 through Sept. 1993

Total number produced: NA

Total no. sold in U.S.: 121,278

1994 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1993 through Sept. 1994

Total number produced: NA

Total no. sold in U.S.: 131,890

1995 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1994 through Sept. 1995

Total number produced: NA

Total no. sold in U.S.: 123,102

1996 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1995 through Sept. 1996

Total number produced: 99,434

Total no. sold in U.S.: 124,969

1997 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1996 through Sept. 1997

Total number produced: 136,658

Total no. sold in U.S.: 116,595

1998 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1997 through Sept. 1998

Total number produced: NA

Total no. sold in U.S.: 95,889


11. Awards and Commendations


"Best Value Minivan Under $18,000" - IntelliChoice

"Best Value Minivan Over $18,000" - IntelliChoice


"Best Value Minivan Under $20,000" - IntelliChoice



"On smooth roads, I found the ride to be comparable to other minivans and not much worse than that of a car. On rough roads, though, the Safari's ride did become somewhat bumpy, but it was still not nearly as objectionable as the four-wheel-drive Ford Ranger pickup I tested last week." - New York Times Regional Newspaper Group, John Rettie Test Drive, April 1993

".. the Astro's dated design lacks much of the people-pleasing packaging of the Venture and other modern minivans, such as a driver's-side sliding rear door and carlike handling and ride." - Automobile, Field Guide 1999.

"Like the defunct Ford Aerostar, this is a rear-drive van, and it has more truck than car in its genes. This gives it a couple of advantages - higher trailering capacity and more cargo volume than any of the front-drive minivans - and some distinct disadvantages: a taller floor level and more trucklike ride and handling." - Car and Driver, 1999 Truck Buyers Guide


13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

ID Number: 97V057000

Component: interior systems: seat belts: lap: rear

Potential Number of Units Affected: 18,972

Year: 1996-1997

Manufactured From: July 1995 To: June 1996

Year of Recall: '97

Summary: The outboard safety belt webbing on the right-hand rear bucket seat can separate during a vehicle crash. In the event of a crash, the vehicle occupant would not be properly restrained and personal injury could result. Dealers will install a protector on the rear seat cushion frame.


14. Cost of Parts (relative to other vehicles)

Headlight unit: $48 (below average), Euro $124 (average)

Side marker lamp: $49 (average)

Door (left front): $416 (below average)

Fender (left front): $131 (below average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of early 1999 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision Repair Services


The Rettie Report and Pre-owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

Printable Version

1996 Chevrolet Astro Van

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Printable Version

1996 Chevrolet Astro Van

Chevrolet Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-year/24,000-Mile¹ CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile² Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile³ Powertrain Limited Warranty for model years up to 2014.

¹Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

²Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

³Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2014 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1996 Chevrolet Astro Van

Data on this page may have come in part, or entirely, from one or more of the following providers.


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