Another in a series of my reviews that appeared in the online version of African Americans On Wheels, a now defunct automotive magazine that was included as an insert in the Sunday newspapers of major cities.
I really don’t have much to say about this truck except that Chevrolet produced it from 1999 to 2004. I’m open to anyone with a story.
The following review was written on May 22, 1999
After years of watching buyers spend big money in the aftermarket to customize their new trucks, Chevrolet has decided to offer its own alternative for the compact S-10: the Xtreme Sport Appearance Package.
While the S-10 has been one of the best looking compact trucks on the market since its redesign nearly six years ago, our example, a black extended cab with the Fleetside bed (narrow with mock fenders), is a stunner. The Xtreme package includes: the ZQ8 sports suspension, which lowers the S-10 two inches; 16-inch aluminum wheels mounted on wide, low profile P235/55R-16 tires; body colored grill and bumpers; low front spoiler with integrated fog lamps; and ground effects along both sides. It’s hard to believe that this is a factory truck, but as Chevy proudly claims in its literature, “this package is factory, so it’s covered by the GM 3 year/36,000 mile limited warranty,” a subtle hint/warning that some aftermarket add-ons can void some or all of the factory warranty.
Although available on any S-10, this one was a loaded LS with Chevy’s powerful Vortec 4300 V6 and smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission. It’s a great match for the little truck, and anyone who feels that they can’t ante the $2,419 for this powertrain combination should not even take a test drive because it will make living with the anemic 2.2-liter four-cylinder and notchy five-speed manual difficult.
The Vortec is all iron and overhead valves, so it will rocket you away from a stoplight but protest loudly and harshly at high RPMs. The ZQ8 suspension makes the Xtreme one of the best handling trucks on the market but transmits even the smallest road imperfection to the cabin. The over-boosted power steering also somewhat dulls the fun. Furthermore, the package nullifies the S-10’s ability to tow a trailer. As in all extended cab compact pickups, the rear jump seats are laughably small.
Is it worth it? It’s “Xtremely” hard to justify, but if looking good is all that’s important to you, and if you were going to do it anyway…
For more information contact 1-800-950-2438
Type: 2-Door Extended Cab Pickup
Engine: 175-horsepower, 4.3 liter V6
Transmission: 4-speed Automatic
EPA Mileage: 17 city/22 highway
Tested Price: $23,422
My choices would have been an Xtreme Blazer and a Sonoma SLS fleetside. I am a sucked for lower Blazers and I thought GMC did a nice job styling the Sonoma – much more subtle than the Chevy.
However my only experience having been driving a well used fleet version of the S10 of this period means I would continue to never own one. This, to me, was peek terrible GM interior quality and some of the materials used were just inexcusable.
Hot Take: Best looking Chevrolet pick-up truck ever. It’s been all downhill for Chevy design ever since.
That being said, the Dodge Dakota 5.9 R/T was the compact to buy in these years. Price for the Dakota was very reasonable for the performance. The Dakota’s were very nicely designed too.
I always thought the Dakotas were the best looking of the smaller trucks offered back then but they seemed to have almost vanished from the earth these days while I still see Rangers and S-l0s from the same time period driving around. This makes me suspicious that they had some real long term reliability issues.
I find it pretty hard to believe that 5.9 plus manual gearbox was unreliable.
Most were probably automatics and Mopar had “issues” with most automatics back then. However, I still see Jeeps on the road with those automatics installed.
I have noticed that the Dakota’s still left in New England have major rust issues. I suspect that this killed a lot of them.
Also, I have noticed that the majority of Mopar clientele are the proverbial “driven hard and put away wet types.” Definitely a different clientele than the Toyota/Lexus and even Ford/GMC types.
The Dodge Charger/Challenger has replaced the Pontiac Grand Am in that respect.
Also re-sale gets you on most Mopar’s. At a certain point, they aren’t worth fixing.
To quote a dealer when a customer was having difficulty deciding between the Grand Cherokee and Durango regarding re-sale value.
“At the end of 36 months you know who wants a used Jeep, everyone. You know who wants a used Dodge, no one.”
You are likely correct that the manual transmission version was the one to have for sure.
/You line on Jeeps vs Dodge got a chuckle out of me and I am a fan of most of the current Dodge Lineup.
Rams from this era are still thick on the ground and the powertrains were basically the same, Durangos too. Come to think of it this generation Dakota just never seemed that popular or common to begin with, it had very similar styling to the Ram and had more of a junior vibe than most mini trucks that might have swayed would be buyers to the bigger brother.
These were around when I was in my peak “lot-walking days” when living behind a row of dealerships with my car-buddy neighbor and friend. Many hours were spent debating the merits of the S10 vs the Rangers across the street. The Xtreme package was not met with approval from late 20’s-something me and in general the S10 seemed too…narrow I think was the consensus, it just looked sort of cheap (And good deals could in fact be had).
In the end this generation of S10’s styling has aged pretty well, but the Xtreme package isn’t any better now than it was then. Still, I wasn’t buying and others did so what do I know. Good for GM to try to keep some of those aftermarket dollars in-house.
I’ve purchased three of this generation S-10 brand new, a ’96 4 cyl/automatic, a ’98 four cyl./5 speed, (both regular cabs) and a 2003 V-6/automatic extended cab, which was the best of all, had it over 8 years. Hard to find one now that hasn’t been all used up.
If…IF…only GM quality control was as high and long lasting as Toyota’s was in this time period.
After two Toyota and one Mitsubishi small pick up trucks from 1992 to 2006; my S-10 came in a distant fourth place.
Plastic plastic plastic plastic
Anytime I look at one of these, all I see is cheap plastic.
An Xtreme extended cab with a mild LS swap is something I have been wanting to do for a while now. Yes it’s “basic” and been done a thousand times over, but I am sure I would enjoy one as a semi-regular DD to break up my commute. I also see nothing but cheap plastic, especially the interior, but I DD a Tupperware Chevy car now so I’m used to it even if I find other interiors better. Plus my job as a fleet mechanic where I tend to get filthy daily I like GM’s easy to clean crap-tastic plastic interior….it’s a love/hate relationship.
It’s XTREME! Buy me Gen Xers! I’m way more Xtreme than that Xterra at the dealer down the street! You can put mountain climbing equipment in the bed, and we can look the part street racing on the way back with my big rims and bodykit!
lol! I’m actually shocked GM showed such restraint, with minimal graphics. It must have been hard. The Jazz paper cup design started in 1992, and impacted much style in the 90s.
I had no idea that the 1990s trend of colorful swooshy things all started with… a disposable cup. That type of design appeared on everything from sneakers to Chevy Berettas within just a few years.
They did offer a factory graphics package for the S10 Extreme. They called it the Heat.
There was even a Right Guard Extreme deodorant back then
Still is. I guess this outlasted both the Xterra and the S-10 Xtreme:
OMG I did not know it was still around. I worked on it when it launched, the colors were more vibrant back then.
I applied that to my pits in 2003.
Hasn’t stopped working yet.
Xcellent Xample Xceeding Xtraordinary Xacting Xpectations Xtra Xceptionally.
When my kids were young, they called the Nissan SUV the “Xterrible”. I don’t thing there were enough S10 Xtremes around for them to notice.
The Xterra was at least as Xtreme as Windows XP.
My Xneighbor had an XTreme Blazer.
Xtremely rusty. It’s tags were Xpired.
But it kept going longer than Xpected.