The seven seater Chevrolet Astro van was first introduced in 1985 by the automobile company Chevrolet. Some of its competitors for this vehicle at that time were the Dodge Caravan, the Japanese Toyota Van and the GMC Safari. The vans, in addition to being a 7 passenger van , was also widely used for carrying cargo.
The Astro was initially representative of a minivan but it was of the size of the Chevrolet Venture/Lumina APV unibody minivan. The Astro had the power to pull 2500 kgs of cargo with the right equipments. The engines for these Astro vans varied from 145 to 190 hp. The vehicles also were fitted with 200hp power generating ‘W’ engines.
The Astro 7 seater van was mainly sold in North America and later began to be exported to Japan where it became very popular in course of time. The last year of production of Astro was 2005.
These vans which were manufactured in 2005 had three doors. The vehicle was mainly meant as a luggage carrier rather than as a passenger vehicle. The 2005 model was equipped with two levels of trim which consists of the Drive and the All Wheel Drive. When this vehicle was introduced, it had the Rear Wheel Drive Trim level with a standard V6 engine of capacity 4.3 litre which produced a horsepower of 190 units. This enabled the vehicle to be able to take up 15 mpg for driving in city and 19 mpg for highway driving.
Changes made to the Chevrolet Astro Van over the years:
1991: A high output V6 engine which was more powerful was made available in 2WD models. The outboard seats were provided with lap and shoulder belts.
1992: The engine was upgraded to a more powerful one which generated horsepower of 200 units.
1993: The Astro which initially had 4-speed automatic transmission system was upgrade to be equipped with electronic shift controls and for improved handling in slippery surfaces, a new second-gear feature was introduced. The horsepower was again increased by 15 units and the speedometers were regulated to 100 mph in place of 85 mph.
1994: In this year, all Astros were equipped with driver side which was standardized. The front doors as well as the sliding side doors were provided with guard beams in the roof, a high mounted stop lamp was fitted.
1995: The 1995 model of this seven seater van was provided with a new nose and grille and new complex headlamps and body colored facades.
1996: The Astro came equipped with an airbag for the passenger side in this year. The horsepower remained unchanged at. Spark plugs which lasted 100,000 miles were introduced into the vehicle. The front foot space was increased due to a new cover for the engine.
1997: The vehicle which came in this year was introduced with daytime running lights and a speed-sensitive power steering. The year also witnessed the addition of leather upholstery to the Astro van.
1998: This year did not see many changes to the Astro except for some color changes in the exterior and an improved transmission system.
2000: In this year, 8 passengers seating was standardized for this vehicle. A seven seater version was also made available. Some internal changes were made which caused the engine to operate quieter. New technology headlamps which could automatically switch on when there was low light became an added feature. The fuel tank was enlarged and replaced by plastic in place of metal.
2001: Some of the features introduced in this year are cruise control, a tilted steering wheel, CD player, power windows and remote keyless entry.
2002: A rear heater was provided for the Astro in this year.
2003: The vehicle’s existing antilock brakes were improvised to an all disc arrangement and 16 inches wheels were introduced.
2004 and 2005: In these last two years of its production, the vehicle did not undergo any major changes.
Features of the Chevrolet Astro – 7 Seater Van
Performance: The latest Astro introduced in 2005 has a horsepower of 190 units, rpm of 4,400 and torque of 2,800 rpm. The fuel tank of capacity 27-gallon used unleaded gasoline. The vehicle gave a mileage of 14 within city limits and 20 on highways. This meant that for one single tank of gas, the vehicle could run for 378 miles in the city and 540 miles on highways.
Interior and Exterior Features: The seven seater Chevrolet Astro had a cargo capacity of 41.3 cubic feet and 170 cubic foot with seats folded. The passengers at the front can get head room of 39.2 inches, hip room of 65 inches, shoulder room of 64 inches and leg room of 41.6 inches. The back seat passengers can get head room of 37.9 inches, hip room of 50.9, shoulder room of 67.1 inches and leg room of 36.5 inches. The interior also has been equipped with air conditioning, front and driver seat airbags and cruise control.
The vehicle weighs about 5,900 lb when it is fully loaded otherwise it weighs 4,309 lb. The height of the vehicle is about 75 inches and is 189.8 inches in length. The width is about 77.5 inches.
The safety features provided for the Chevrolet Astro are ABS brakes, antitheft system, front and rear passenger airbags and child safety locks.
Some drawbacks of the Chevrolet Astro Van:
1. There is some problem faced with the opening and closing of the sliding doors.
2. Sometimes one can hear a thumping sound from the engine. This may be due to the exhaust valves fastening with their guides. This can rectified with the help of a oil filter or by replacing the main bearings.
3. The wires of the fuel injector may get drained at the time of reinstallation of the air filter.
4. Sometimes the engine tends to overheat as a result of driving on rough surfaces.
5. There might be some fluid leaking from the body of the pump due to gushing out of the body of valve.
The Chevrolet Astro seven seater van is apt for those who want to own a vehicle which can carry their large cargo for long trips. It can be used for both commercial and personal uses. The vehicle is quite economical and is a good bet for a minivan of that class.