Essentially, 2 engine configurations have been available in these vehicles, an inline 4 cylinder with Throttle Body Injection, and a V6 which has developed over the years from a 4-barrel carburetor, through Throttle Body Injection to Central Multi-Port and finally, Central Sequential Fuel Injection. The various fuel systems available on the V6 raise the number of engines actually available on these models to 6:
In 1987, the 2.5L and 4.3L engines were redesigned to incorporate a single serpentine drivebelt, replacing the conventional multiple V-belts. This new system features an automatic belt tensioner, which eliminates the need for belt adjustment throughout the life of the vehicle and increases the expected belt life to as-much-as 100,000 miles (161,000 km).
Two models are offered: One designed for cargo hauling and the other for passengers. Both are distinguished by a wind tunnel tuned shape which producing a low aerodynamic drag coefficient, when compared to many full-size or more box-like trucks and vans.
The independent front suspension incorporates unequal length A-arms with coil springs. The rear suspension features the first truck use of corrosion free, single leaf fiberglass springs, which are 54 lbs. lighter than a pair of conventional steel springs.
A choice of transmissions was available up through 1989: The MR2, 76mm 4-speed manual (base-only available 1985-86), the MH3/ML3, 77mm 5-speed manual (optional until 1987) and the MD8, Turbo Hydra-Matic 700-R4 4-speed automatic.
Your choice of transmissions went away in 1990 when the first major new design of these models now offered the option of full-time All Wheel Drive (AWD). From 1990 on, driveline work was performed solely by the THM 700-R4 (1990-92), which was now known as the 4L60, or by the 4L60-E (1993-96) 4-speed automatic transmissions. The power is transmitted through a planetary gear set in the transfer case to the rear axle.
Two fuel tanks are available: A 17 gal. (standard) and a 27 gal. (optional). The fuel economy is expected to be low-to-mid 20's for city driving and low-to-mid 30's for highway driving. The combination of a 4-cyl. engine and a 27 gal. tank may approach the 900 mile driving range.
The manufacturing time is reduced by the introduction of the Single Piece construction approach, whereby, a few large stampings to replace the many small ones. The Astro and Safari boasts of the most extensive corrosion protection of any Chevy truck EVER, which includes: The widest use of 2-sided galvanized steel, a full underbody hot-melt wax spray and 7 layers of exterior finish.
GM's innovative Central Multi-Port Fuel Injection (CMFI) system was made available on the 4.3L engine in 1992 bringing the increased power and performance of a multi-port system without as much of the cost. By 1995 this was the only fuel system and engine available for the Astro/Safari model line. And by 1996, the Central Sequential Fuel Injection (CSFI) had supplanted its earlier cousin as standard equipment with yet another increase in performance.
In the area of occupant protection, the 1994 model year saw the introduction of side-door impact protection beams and a driver's side air bag along with environmentally responsible R-134a refrigerant. By 1996, dual (driver and passenger) front air bags were standard equipment.
Rear wheel anti-lock brakes were introduced in 1989 and 4 wheel anti-lock brakes were introduced in 1990. Both systems are electronically controlled to help prevent tire skid under various road conditions.
Depending upon the equipment, the Astro and Safari's capable of towing up to 5000-6000 lbs. (depending on the model and year).