(2000 model shown)
Some 20 years after its original introduction, Chevrolet's rear-drive minivan continues for 2005 without changes. The Astro shares platforms and components with the GMC Safari, and like its corporate cousin comes powered by a 190-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 that teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Its rear-drive truck-based underpinnings makes it the only small van to consider if you want to tow a trailer or boat up to 4900 pounds with any degree of frequency, which is a claim that no car-based front-drive model can make. An all-wheel-drive version is available for more-secure roadholding on wet or snowy roads. Buyers can choose a conventional tailgate or optional horizontal-opening dual rear Dutch doors for cargo-carrying convenience. While the Astro doesn't offer the myriad creature comforts most minivan buyers have come to expect, it's a favorite vehicle among van converters who can turn what is otherwise a fairly plain workman-like vehicle into a virtual home-away-from-home on wheels.