Sporty Chevy Truck a Hit With Youth
S10 Xtreme a Real Head Turner
By Jim Bray
A truck is a truck, unless youre tricking it out with extra goodies
to aim it at a particular market segment.
Such is the case with the Chevy S10 Extended Cab LS, with the Xtreme package
added to its regular list of accoutrements. This $31,105 (Canadian dollars)
truck is nothing if not flashy and, if the stares it got from twentysomethings
during my week with it mean anything, General Motors appears to have hit its
target market bang on.
Alas, that target market doesnt include me, a car guy, more
at home in a car - and to a lesser extent an SUV or minivan - than a big hulking
truck. But that doesnt mean this truck has no raison detre by any
means; in fact, I have a feeling Chevrolet will sell
truckloads of them.
The S10 can be considered as a compact pickup, much like most
of the mainstream Japanese competition. The Extended Cab LS Xtreme comes with
a deeper cab that includes two side-mounted jump seats in the rear, making
it suitable for two adults up front and two children (or very tolerant friends
or family members) in the rear. Those rear seats arent the best way to
experience an extended trip, but theyre fine for shorter hauls.
Which brings to mind an unforgettable memory from 1985, when on my birthday
my best friend showed up with a four wheel drive Extended Cab S10 (the one
Im reviewing now was a 2WD) for a special picnic in the wilds of British
Columbia. To make a long and totally irrelevant story short, we were quite
new to 4 wheeling and ended up spending the night in the S10, lodged in a gigantic
mud hole. The we was my friend, myself, and my wife and two young
kids (and a long night it was!) - so now any time I see an S10 Extended Cab
I laugh and exclaim Look! Theres one of those trucks that sleeps
Actually, the truck worked fine; it wasnt its fault we got stuck (and
we wont go into whose it was!), and on the whole it performed very well
under the circumstances.
But I digress
The current S10 has had the better part of twenty years to evolve, and its
a pretty nice truck. The seats are supportive and comfy and the creature features
abound, so much so that, werent it for the fact that otherwise this looks,
sounds, and acts like a truck, you might think while sitting inside that its
a high car or an SUV.
But a truck it is, indeed, as evidenced by every frost heave or expansion
joint on the road, at which time the S10 shudders and bounces and the ultra-light
rear end announces that if you want real handling youd better put some
bags of cement back there pronto.
In short, it drives like a truck.
Well, duh! Isnt that what its supposed to do?
And talk about a snazzy truck! It has plenty of get up and go, too, thanks
to the optional Vortec 4300 SFI V6 engine with which my tester was equipped.
Horsepower is rated at 180 @ 4400 rpm (2WD; the four by four gets an extra
ten horses) and the torque is 245 lb.-ft @2800 rpm (250 for the 4WD version),
so those who love this type of vehicle will find this puppy has plenty of poop,
delivered to the street by a four speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
The Xtreme stops well, too, keeping in mind the light rear end. Braking is
performed by power discs up front, with drums in the rear (I mean the brakes
are of the drum persuasion; I never hauled a drum kit in the S10s bed,
though I did put an electric guitar into the extended portion of the cab).
The brakes include an antilock feature that takes the skull sweat out of threshold
Suspension is independent, with stabilizer bar, up front, and the rear end
gets two stage multi-leaf springs.
Some nice touches include GMs automatic headlamp control, which turns
the exterior lights on without operator interference, intermittent wipers,
swing out rear vent windows and a pretty good AM/FM/Cassette/CD stereo system
with a nifty automatic volume control that helps keep the sound at a constant
volume relative to the vehicles speed (and, since this is a truck, accompanying
road/wind noise). This latter feature works quite well and frees your right
hand from endless knob twiddling.
You also get an air conditioning system that works very well when its
really hot outside (which it was during my test), including a
maximum setting thatll almost keep the champagne youve
stuck in the spacious centre console chilled.
My Xtreme tester also came with the convenience group that included power
everything and a remote entry keyfob. Xtreme features include color-keyed bumpers
and grille, a nice set of 16 inch aluminum wheels wearing P235/55R rated all
season radials, a set of ground effects body stickons, fog lamps, specific Xtreme badging,
the sport suspension, leather wrapped tilt steering wheel, deep tinted glass,
a sliding rear window, and cruise control. Its a pretty extensive list
that, as mentioned, brings the total price of the vehicle to just over $31K
Cdn from its base of $20.6K Cdn.
The result is a pickup truck that, much to my chagrin, demanded to be noticed.
The stares, particularly from young people who mustnt know it isnt
polite, were an almost constant experience, as were the puzzled looks from
those same young people at the old fart behind the wheel. I could just hear
them thinking Must have borrowed his kids truck.
My Xtreme was a bright, bright, bright red; while I was driving it I also
saw a version in a bright, bright, bright yellow driven by some kid with a
grin on his face so broad that it was obvious he was in his element.
Which means that Chevrolets marketing people have done a good job at
taking a pretty standard small pickup and turning it into a real head turner.