Small compromises yield better results
The shocks and springs were shot when I bought it.
The water pump seal leaked; cheap fix.
Obvious chassis flex in the area of the third door; sometimes hear wind/air leaks while turning a hard right.
The ubiquitous third door handle has broken twice. Easy to re-engineer with a long bolt and some washers. Or just buy a billet aluminum replacement on eBay.
Seat adjustment levers tend to stick, but haven't broken... yet. Helps to shake the seatback a little when trying to operate levers.
Starter solenoid is wearing out just now at 130K miles.
...so is the voltage regulator (alternator).
I didn't give the cheesy front wheel bearings a chance to blow up on me, replaced them ASAP with all metal ones during routine brake job; they were close to zero hour!!
Mystery water leak into the rear cab area... jury's still out on that one.
Valve cover gasket starting to leak, another easy fix.
Gearshift knob loosened and came off. Gorilla glue fixed that.
I might have an unfair advantage over some of the other reviewers, since I turn my own wrenches on my vehicles. Having utilized this site and other various sites for preventative maintenance and repair info, this truck hasn't been hard to keep on the road, and neither was my previous one (97 Isuzu Hombre, same thing essentially).
My commute takes me 36 miles one-way, through a heavily urbanized area down a nightmarish interstate, with all kinds of goofy drivers in the midst. The road itself is in horrible shape, but the truck, with critical suspension parts replaced/upgraded, handles everything in its stride just fine. It does ride a bit hard, but hey... it's a truck. An upgrade to higher quality aftermarket springs and suspension bushings, plus new shocks, put it into great shape for the daily driven battle. Frequent chassis greasing is a must; especially ball joints and steering components. All of mine are still original, and are doing fine so far.
By dumb luck I ended up with a flex fuel motor, and for some reason it seems to perform better than the other standard 2.2's I've driven in different trucks. With a high octane ethanol fuel in the tank, the truck does seem to accelerate faster; fuel mileage is a little less, though. The engine output has greatly benefited from having the factory belt driven radiator fan replaced with an electric one, reducing the drag from the crankshaft driven accessories. Much quieter too! An aftermarket performance air intake also helps some. Keep in mind, the 2.2 in the S10 isn't going to break any speed records, but it's not completely lame if you're just trying to accelerate into traffic and you really let it wind out; I've had worse from other vehicle brands. One note of interest, though: some service parts for the flex fuel engine will be more expensive to replace. The fuel filter alone was $50, because the flex setup uses a specific style different from the regular 2.2 setup. The upstream oxygen sensor has two wires instead of the typical one wire; I think that was around $60.
Just this year I brought an estimated 900+ lbs of stuff 1,200 miles across the country in the back of this thing, and although it struggled a bit in the mountains, it did it without breaking anything, and still got at least 20 MPG; usually it gets anywhere from 22-26 with just me in it. Better mileage comes from driving steady and slower; a compromise in an area where 80mph traffic and speed up/slow down tailgating is common. Many of these have a 4.10 geared differential, and seem to start turning over 3K RPM at speeds above 70mph, which will inherently use more fuel. Any semblance of acceleration disappears after winding third gear out to around 65mph, but it's enough to get up the on ramps.
All in all, it works for me, though no vehicle is perfect. I may try a V6 model someday if I can find one that hasn't been ragged out by the time I'm ready to retire this one.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd September, 2013