From 1981 to 2004, the Chevy S10 was the Chevy model that dominated the North American compact truck market. This quarter-ton truck may have only had two generations, but we still drive it and that says a lot. It never even had a V8 (eight-cylinder engine), but this iconic model means it still has its place on the truck market. The S10 became the Chevy Colorado in 2004. 

As we’ll learn later, different Chevy S10 fans have their own opinions on the best year for this truck. In some ways, it comes down to common sense. If you want more power and don’t want to worry about damage, go with a newer model. If you love vintage and want to be more daring, go with an older model. 

Do you still want a specific year? Okay, if you want a specific year recommended, 1998 might be good for you. This is when Chevy started the second-generation Chevy S10. 

Difference Between the First-Generation and Second-Generation Chevy S10

Chevy came out with the second-generation version in North America in 1994. One of the changes was just in the name: while first-generation S10 trucks were called “S-10,” second-generation got a more streamlined moniker in “S10.” 

For 1994, Chevy discontinued special models of the S10, including the Sonoma GT, the Typhoon, and the Syclone. The most significant changes, however, were made so that the Chevy S10 could compete more effectively with the Ford Ranger. With the second generation of Chevy S10s trucks, 2.2 L 4-cylinder engines became the norm. 

First Generation S10s

The first generation of Chevy S10 pickup trucks was started to compete in what we called the “light utility vehicle” (LUV) market. This market first opened in 1972. While it took until 1982 for Chevy to make its entrance, it was an unforgettable one. The Chevy S10 featured two-wheel drive and boasted either four-cylinder or six-cylinder engines. 

And it didn’t take long for Chevy to add an upgrade. In 1983, the company started adding the option of either 4X4 or extended cells. For all the limitations of the time, the first generation of Chevy S10s was impressive. 

What Is the Best Year for Chevy S10?
1982 Chevrolet S-10 Sport Pick-up

Second Generation S10s

Chevy made four-wheel drive a standard feature in the 1996 S10 pickup trucks. With this change, this vehicle became popular for off-roading. It was accompanied by larger tires that were appropriate for this purpose. 

When it came to short-bed models with regular cabs, Chevy provided V6 engines with high-performance capabilities. The wheels were alloy and had sport suspension. 

How Many Miles Does a Chevy S10 Last?

Pickup trucks generally are known for their durability. In fact, a pickup truck’s ability to make 200,000 miles is almost double what other kinds of vehicles can. Overall, this is what you can expect from a Chevrolet S10. Some Chevy S10 enthusiasts have found that the range for these trucks is between 180K and 280K. 

Why Was the Chevy S10 Discontinued?

Chevy decided to discontinue the S10 to bring in their Colorado instead. Why? Well, part of the reason is simple branding. The name “Colorado” is evocative. It creates thoughts of rugged and challenging terrains, and that is what the SIO is good at tackling. 

The company still makes Colorado trucks today, but many collectors prefer to go with the S10. 

In some ways, the auto industry is no different than others. Novelty is important. And that is one reason why the Chevy S10 was discontinued. Even though Chevy S10s are no longer made, this model of pickup truck still has plenty of devotees. 

So, What Is the Best Year for the Chevy S10?

Of course, this is a subjective opinion. Different truck enthusiasts and collectors have their own opinions and preferences. Some collectors are diehards for the first-generation S10, but others prefer the second-generation models of this truck. 

Some Chevy S10 enthusiasts prefer the newer (1998-2004) S10s. That is because of the features and power. But others like to go old school. They enjoy the older (especially 1990-93) Chevy S10s for certain reasons, including how you don’t have to worry as much about damage. 

So, what’s the answer? Choose the Chevy S10 that best fits your preferences and needs. If you want newer features, go with 1998 to 2004. If you don’t mind going older and want the features that come with models from 1981 to 1997, go with one of those models. Like with any other purchase, it all comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. 

Is Chevy S10 Reliable?

Yes, the Chevy S10 is known to be an eminently reliable pickup truck. Some S10 owners have purchased this model of truck and used and enjoyed numerous years of use without any trouble. It’s the legendary reliability of the Chevy S10 that makes it so attractive.

As a pickup truck, the Chevy S10 is made to be sturdy and dependable. After all, it’s made for more demanding purposes and constructed for toughness.               

Do People Still Drive Chevy S10 Trucks?

Yes, there are still plenty of Chevy S10 fans. Many people have these trucks from a variety of years, and they make their own repairs and adjustments to fit their needs. There are lots of ways to customize this vehicle, and it’s affordable to buy. 

Chevy S10s are popular for pickup truck collectors. The S10 is one of the most iconic brands in this vehicle type. If you join the S10 collector club, you will find plenty of advice on things you can do and improvements you can make. And pickup trucks are famous for their practicality. You’ll be thankful to have it on hand if you ever have to move or haul anything. 

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen here, the Chevy S10 is a truly legendary pickup truck. Among the first North American compact pickup trucks, the Chevy S10 played a pivotal role in the continent’s auto production. If you’re getting into auto collecting and pickup trucks are on your radar, get acquainted with the Chevy S10. 

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