Older Chevrolet S-10 feedback

Wyo37

Member
I am trying to decide what platform to purchase for a dedicated overland (ie hunting rig). This will be a vehicle that I will primarily use to go hunting out of, which is basically overlanding with a purpose.

The early 2000's S10 has caught my attention as they are relatively cheap, and cheap is good.

Any feedback on these pickups? Things to avoid or watch out for? Do some come with better options (lsd)?

I've also considered Isuzu troopers, xterra, tacoma, older rangers and frontiers.

Thoughts?
 

drabina

Member
I looked at the S10s at some point too. No personal experience but from what I heard is that engine bay space is tight so harder to work on than the full-size trucks. Especially if you get one with 4.3 V6 (I was looking at the older square ones).

As to the other ones:

Isuzu Trooper - make sure you get one with manual transmission. Automatics are problematic.
X-Terra - watch for rust and check space inside (they are small).
Tacoma - if you have money, sure. Should be dependable and will keep good resell value. Just check the frame for rust.
Old Rangers - first gen? Looks cool but some parts are hard to come by these days. I think i.e. fuel tank is impossible to get.
Frontiers - Should be decent and can be found newer than Tooper or X-Terra and cheaper than Tacoma.

Another option would be a Nissan Pathfinder (the older square one). Comes with a 4.0 V6 and has 4x4 with 4LO. The later years (2010-2012) were relatively trouble free.

Also, consider a Subaru. I just switched from a full-size SUV (with proper 4LO, locker) to a Subaru and couldn't be happier. Way easier on gas, wagon so packs a lot and way cheaper than Tacoma or any full-size truck.

My 2 cents.
 

deserteagle56

Adventurer
Can't speak to the pickup version...but I bought a S10 Blazer new and drove it 321,000 miles. Great trouble-free drivetrain. 4.3 V6 engine/Turbo 700 tranny.
 

N.Penley

Member
Another option worth considering is the Jeep Cherokee (XJ). They are great low budget vehicles with strong powertrains and suspension.

I love my 84 S10 but if it wasn’t a family heirloom I would have something with better suspension components, more power, & more interior space. The 4x4 system always seems to have minor issues (vacuum leaks etc.) and locking diffs are not cost efficient.
If you decide on an s10 get the 4.3 V6 and an extended cab. I highly suggest the ZR2 package if you’re planning to get off road at all. The standard cab trucks lack space for 2 people and hunting gear inside. If it rains you better have some dry storage in the bed. You may need to take down a 28” shotgun to get it to fit behind the seat of a standard cab. The interior components fit and feel cheap and with age are prone to cracking plastic everywhere.

Questions:
1. Are you hunting alone or with other people, dogs, etc.?
2. Are you sleeping in the vehicle? If so an SUV is easier to heat.
3. Are you hauling wet muddy gear? Truck for the win.
4. Is this a daily driver or strictly a weeekend toy?

Like anything else there is no perfect vehicle and most everyone on this site is just documenting ways to cope with what they have and how they tweak it to fit their needs. Really that’s the fun part for me. Either I modify the vehicle to fit my needs or I modify my desires to fit my vehicles.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
Izuzu Trooper - make sure you get one with manual transmission. Automatics are problematic.
X-Terra - watch for rust and check space inside (they are small).
Tacoma - if you have money, sure. Should be dependable and will keep good resell value. Just check the frame for rust.
Old Rangers - first gen? Looks cool but some parts are hard to come by these days. I think i.e. fuel tank is impossible to get.
Frontiers - Should be decent and can be found newer than Tooper or X-Terra and cheaper than Tacoma.

Parts for Rangers are more available than most, fuel tanks vary because they changed over the years, EFI ones are pretty available. Different wheelbases obviously have different tanks too. I suspect most trucks of that vintage will be similar.

For a noob owner, I would recommend 90-97. They have EFI, they have the better trans, they have better axles etc. It all bolts onto the older trucks (I did it to mine) but turnkey out of the box the second and third gen has it all (4.0)

They are like an erector set, I have had a lot of fun with mine.

Accept the fact that they are basically a two seater (any truck of comparable size standard or extended cab)

Ease of working on... simplicity kind of plays a factor. My V8 swapped Ranger is generally easier to work on than any fullsize I have had to date. Maybe it is because I more or less designed it myself but still...

Depending on options even old compacts can have similar ratings to average half tons, my '85 has a longer bed than my LWB F-150 also so there is that. With new bushings, good springs, new shocks and good tires it is perfectly fine on the highway, not as smooth as my wife's new Bronco offroad but then again my suspension actually articulates...

Huge beyond huge thing though, no matter what you get realize you are buying a 30yo truck. It will need some love because the level of care you have to maintain for reliable overlanding/offroading is likely not the same level of care it has been getting for the last 25 years. Brakes, brake hoses, wheel bearings/seals, u-joints, suspension joints, cab mounts, belts, alternator/charging system etc. Also you are getting out of the envelope most shops are familiar with so strong DIY skills go a long ways too.
 

Nikilrho

New member
We have an 02 S10 zr2. It’s stock besides replacement parts. Which, unfortunately for us, includes a new engine and transmission. Engine blew at 120k due to a pinched oil line. It is indeed a very tight fit in the engine bay. Beyond that we get about 15mpg, and the truck feels very hard done by with a 300lb supermoto and gear loaded up. Paint looks terrible imo but is still sealed under the topcoat, and there’s some rust on the frame but nothing bad or worrying.
Beyond the engine (needed) and (imo unnecessary ) transmission replacement, we have replaced the tires, shocks, front suspension, cv axles (that was more of an oops learning experience) and a lot of vacuum lines. Still don’t have the vacuum lines sorted as there is a weird air issue. Also a recently a new distributor. Oh yeah the rad twice due to a hole on purchase (making an 1 hr trip an 5 hr one) and once again (but for free) with the transmission. Oh and a front drive shaft. Really she takes forever to get up to speed but is fine traveling once you get there. A few issues with the transfer case seals after the transmission but that was solve at a dealership after we just couldn’t get it right.

Part of our issues is living at 9500ft and she’s a daily right now. 4wd with ko2s though and she drives through anything we’ve pointed her at.

We might turn her into an overlanding rig though, or just leave her as my winter snow is too bad for my car and trash mover.
 

Buddha.

Finally in expo white.
I had a 94 zr2 4.3 auto, a 99 2wd 2.2 manual, and a 01 4.3 4x4 4dr blazer.

The 4wd is only available with the 4.3. The 4.3 trucks get about 14mpg in my experience.

Good drivetrain but the same mpg as a full size.

The cheap purchase price of these trucks makes the mpg bearable imo.

Expect to replace tie rods, maybe wheel bearings and ball joins.

I never had any big problems with them.
 

1stDeuce

Explorer
I had a '98 Highrider GMC. It was a solid truck for me! Mine was a 5-speed manual and it got worked like a fullsize quite a bit. I only owned it to about 150k miles but it was a good truck to that point, with my only real issue being the pilot bearing for the trans input going dry. They are built pretty heavy compared to a Toyota, which can be good and bad. The powertrain is indeed tight... I got 17mpg quite a bit, but that was never exceeding 70mph and not much "city" driving, as my commute was half an hour of highway each way.

I think another truck very much worth considering is a 2nd Gen Dakota. I fixed one up for my Dad (needed head gaskets) last year and he loves the thing. I drove it around for a while and I gotta say I liked it a lot. The 4.7L and 545RFE is a decent powertrain. Easily fits 265/70R16 tires, decent clearance, ride was really nice, worn out rear limited slip really grabs, Quad Cab had great interior space even for the rear passengers, factory stereo was nice... The 45RFE/545RFE are the exception to Chrysler transmissions sucking. The 4.7L's main issue is that it does not tolerate being overheated, having aluminum heads... I found a really nice truck that had dropped a valve seat and needed two new heads for $500. I spent about $1200 putting heads on it and it has been a solid truck. (250k miles and counting...)
 

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