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Depending on how it's ordered, Chevrolet's S-10 Pickup can be a no-nonsense work truck with vinyl seats and vinyl floor. Or it can be more like that other car in the driveway, with full carpeting and velour seats. Or it can be like a sedan with four doors, amenities, and roominess. In all cases, the S-10 offers the utility of a pickup.
Whether hauling manure, driving to work, or heading into the backcountry, the S-10 LS can provide car-like comfort, even with four-wheel drive.
Like any mainstream pickup truck, the options and configuration can affect your perception of the S-10 and it's difficult to name a typical model.
We tested the 4x4 LS with an automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive gives the S-10 added traction in slippery conditions and makes it more capable when venturing off road, but its primary use is intended for paved or gravel roads. Four-wheel drive helps getting up slippery boat launch ramps, and is recommended for heavy-duty hauling.
The 4WD Chevy S-10 is definitely a truck. It has a live rear axle on leaf springs and a gross vehicle weight rating of 5150 pounds over a curb weight of 3616 pounds, and a heavy 4x4 drivetrain attached to the front hubs. So ride will be compromised. One can't expect a truck to ride like a car. And it doesn't. You can feel the front wheels trying to continue to bounce after hitting a bump, and the load-carrying rear springs not wanting to compress over minor bumps in the road. That said, the S-10 rides well over smooth pavement and the Goodyear tires are quiet. A long trip on smooth asphalt would be a delight, but frost-heaved concrete would be a nightmare. Add 600 pounds of cinder block in the bed and the ride will be smoother and the cornering balance more even. The S-10 tracks well, with little correction required to maintain a straight line. And there's only a minimum of wind noise.
The V6 engine is smooth and quiet. It's silent at idle and quiet down the road, and not particularly loud at full throttle. Earlier examples of this engine have been thrashy at high rpm, but over the years it has been refined to where it is not as slick as, say, a BMW six, but you won't go reaching for your earplugs when you get in the truck.
The V6 is also responsive, whether accelerating to merge onto the freeway or to pass a semi on a two-lane road. With 250 foot-pounds of torque, it responds instantly to propel the S-10 through traffic.
According to EPA tests, you can expect 17 mpg in city driving and 22 on the highway with the automatic transmission.
The Chevrolet S-10 is a truck. It rides like a truck, it corners like a truck. As a truck, it has more cargo room than passenger room. If that's what you need, or if that's what you want, you most likely won't mind a ride that will never compare to that of an automobile. In that regard, the S-10 is like a steel glove lined with, well, not velvet, but velour.
A Chevy pickup is a safe buy, a known quantity with dealer service in every other town, which is nice to know even if you don't need it as much as you once did.