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There’s nothing wrong with the 2000 Chevrolet S-10 that a little chassis stiffness couldn't fix.
That bald statement aside, the S-10 Xtreme might be just the truck you need, especially if you need economical, versatile transportation. It's not a bad little truck, as long as you don't expect too much of it.
We drove an extended cab S-10 equipped with the Xtreme package. In obvious, clichéd reference to its target demographic, the Xtreme brings with it a ream of "youthful" enhancements — no body piercings or slack work ethics among them, just a two-inch drop in ride height, a monochromatic paint scheme, a ground-effects package and unique 16-inch wheels. With the mods, its got a decent amount of curb appeal that might just get you noticed outside the nearest skate park.
The suspension upgrades help out the Xtreme’s off-the-rack road manners, but can only do so much for the aging platform and the lackluster dynamics inherent in the S-10. Driving this truck reminds us of piloting a large mass of roadworthy Jello. Road surfaces that would feel as smooth as glass in competitive trucks excite the S-10's chassis a little too much. The steering wheel shakes terribly over bumps, and you can literally see the instrument panel and cab flex right before your eyes. This sort of behavior is generally associated with convertibles, not pickups.
Never mind the base 2.2-liter, 120-hp four-cylinder that adds nothing to the driving experience. If you opt for the 180-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 that our truck had, the S-10 becomes a relatively sprightly transportation device. This powerplant, coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission and limited-slip rear axle, proved to be a reasonably entertaining setup.
Despite its shortcomings, there are a few reasons to buy an S-10 instead of its competition. As standard equipment, it has automatic headlamps and an anti-theft engine immobilizer. While they may seem insignificant, those two features may lead to lower insurance premiums. And, the base S-10 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine posted a combined EPA fuel economy rating 1 mile per gallon higher than the Ford Ranger did (25 vs. 24). In the land of cheap gas, that's probably more pertinent to GM's truck CAFE numbers rather than your change jar.