The Chevrolet S-10 shared the same underpinnings with the GMC Sonoma and it’s around since 1980. During its long life, the Chevrolet S-10 was sold in two generations and represented the American offensive to the success of the Japanese pickups.
However, despite being cheap, reliable and practical, the S-10 was still a half step behind its Japanese rivals which continued to be the segment leaders.
Basically, the Chevrolet S-10 was a compact pickup designed to offer a good compromise between practicality, comfort and efficiency.
The second generation Chevrolet S-10 was offered in regular, extended and crew cab bodies with short and long beds. The vehicle was also offered with a choice of three engines including a 118 hp 2.2 liter, 165 hp 4.3 liter V6 and a 195 hp 4,3 liter Vortec. The Chevrolet S-10 went out of production in 2005 when it was replaced by the Colorado model.
Chevrolet decided to take a conventional approach with its S-10 pickup and came up with a pretty clean but dull design. Except for the front fascia, the Chevrolet S-10 was identical with its GMC twin.
The truck had that distinct rugged flair, typical for any genuine pickup truck, given by its tall stance and the massive wheels.
The front fascia was dominated by a rectangular grille and a set of big headlights both being traversed by a longitudinal chromed bar which continued to be the model’s signature.
The bumper was pretty clean and coped well with the rest of the body, while at the back there was a set of rectangular taillights and a wide opening tail gate which offered easy access into the load bed.
Similarly with the GMC Sonoma, the S-10’s rear bumper could’ve been used as a useful step to climb up into the load bed.
As it was expected the interior is also identical with the one from GMC Sonoma. The entire cockpit was build to be ready to go head to head with the harshest working conditions without backing down, so most of the plastics are rock hard while, the rest of the materials are part of the rugged class as well. The fittings weren’t as refined as other vehicles in the class, but they weren’t something to worry about either.
We don’t have any complains about the overall ergonomy, as everything inside is placed within easy reach and we also like the curved center console.
The dashboard comes with a robust style and a set of rectangular air vents, being a perfect match for the rugged character of the vehicle.
The driving position was a bit uncomfortable, mostly due to the rudimentary seats which came without proper side bolstering and had only limited adjustments. You also seat pretty low and you need to face a high dashboard, so the front road visibility isn’t exactly brilliant.
The seats were hard and totally devoid of any side bolstering which made them pretty rudimentary. There were however, a few basic adjustments, but they weren’t of much help and you’d had to deal with a pretty spartan driving position.
On the other hand, you can rely with confidence on the biog lateral windows and the plate sized door mirrors which keep blind spots to a minimum level.
Unfortunately, the cabin was pretty poor isolated, as at higher speeds wind noise enters the cabin without any significant restrictions.
The Chevrolet S-10 was fitted with a bunch of useful storage compartments which included two cup holders, a big glove box and a pair of practical door pockets.
Engines and performance
The base engine was a 2.2 liter four cylinder unit with a maximum output of 118 hp and 140 Nm of torque. This unit was a bit sluggish and didn’t rise to the expectations of a capable utilitarian workhorse. Yet, despite its lazy character, the 2.2 unit was able to get the job done in the end and was also pretty efficient for its time.
The second engine option was a 4.3 liter V6 that pops out 165 hp with a maximum torque of 310 Nm. The strongest unit in the lineup was a 4.3 liter Vortec that came with 195 hp on tap and a maximum torque of 339 Nm at 2800 rpm.
The Vortec unit was certainly better than its weaker siblings, but when it comes to performances and refinement it was still not in the same league as its Japanese rivals. This doesn’t mean that is was less capable to deal with big payloads or difficult terrains.
All three engines were available with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.
Chevrolet S-10 Engines Specifications
|Engine|| hp @ rpm || nm @ rpm |
| 2.2 liter|| 118 @ 5000|| 140 @ 3600 |
|4.3 liter V6 || 165 @ 4400 || 310 @ 2400 |
|4.3 liter Vortec|| 195 @ 4400|| 339 @ 2800|
Ride and handling
Back in the 90s, the pickups were mostly designed as utilitarian machines so ride comfort was left on the second place, as the suspensions needed to be stiff in order to be able to carry heavy loads without backing down.
The S-10 makes no exception and came with a bone juggling ride that kept you informed about every bump of the road. On the other hand, the handling was pretty predictable with small body roll and an adequate steering while the stopping power was pretty strong as well.
There is no question about the true nature of the Chevrolet S-10. The vehicle is a true old school truck, and there is no doubt about this. It rides like a truck and handles like a truck. It also comes with a rugged cabin which won’t win a lot of hearts, but it will be able to endure severe punishment without cracking.
The engines lineup was pretty wide and the V6 Vortec unit was quite strong and also offered reasonable fuel consumption. The vehicle was also pretty reliable. However, the main problem of this truck was that it always had to deal with a much stronger competition, which closed its road to success.