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Xtreme is one rad ride

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"You've got to be kidding," I told the factory delivery guy when he presented me with the keys to this week's ride: a 2000 Chevrolet S-10 "Xtreme" low-rider pickup.

He grinned as we gazed upon the "victory red" wonder before us, so low it looked like it would scrape the yellow paint off the road. "No, man, this is the real deal," he exulted, tugging absently on his earring.

"Do you really expect me to drive this thing home to Sandy where my neighbors will see me pull it into my driveway? "

He shook his head and replied: "Oh, I don't know, man. Personally I think it's a pretty cool truck."

Well, yes, I suppose it would seem that way to a 22-year-old kid, but I don't exactly fall into that demographic.

Then I thought about all the thousands of cars, trucks and SUVs I've taken home over the years — some of them even weirder than the Xtreme — and figured my neighbors are probably beyond being shocked at this point. Some of them think I'm running a chop shop for stolen vehicles anyway, and the Xtreme will just confirm their suspicions.

I sighed and asked the delivery guy if the truck bounced up and down like those low riders so beloved by certain Southern California car cults. "No, man, I'm sorry," he replied. "It don't have hydraulic shocks."

So far, so good, but for his sake I tried to look disappointed.

"Well, what about one of those ground-shaking sound systems?" I asked. "You know, the ones that make all the other motorists go nuts waiting for the light to change so they can flee from the THUMPA! THUMPA! THUMPA!"

Now he looked downright embarrassed. "No, man, it's just got a regular stereo. Sorry."

Well, maybe it won't be so bad, I thought. I'll just avoid making eye contact with my fellow motorists and let them think whatever they want about the dude having a midlife crisis in the funny truck.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself actually liking he little critter, mainly because it was so easy to enter and exit. You don't climb up into the low-riding Xtreme, you just open the door and sit down, like a car.

As for not making eye contact with my fellow motorists, I quickly got over that as well. I received nothing but admiring glances and thumbs up from the sub-25 set and the glares from the over-40 crowd struck me as a badge of honor. The kid was right, the Xtreme is one cool truck, and during my week behind its wheel, I was a pretty cool dude.

Trouble is, the Xtreme is pricey, considering its target market. The base MSRP on my tester was $15,913, but a raft of options and the $520 delivery charge put the bottom line at $23,270 (dealer invoice of $19,864), which is pretty much out of reach of Generation Y members and even most Generation Xrs. Happily, I don't have to worry about it. My youngest daughter will soon be getting her driver's license, but she has shown no interest in pickup trucks, low riders or otherwise.

For the rest of you, who simply must have a Chevy Xtreme but can only afford a Chevy Cavalier, the answer is to order the truck from the factory only without all the bells and whistles. Forget the power windows and strip it right down to the bare essentials. Then, after you've launched your dot-com IPO and the bucks start to roll in, you can add an aftermarket THUMPA! THUMPA! stereo and even a hydraulic suspension setup so you can bounce down the street with the best of them.

For the record, my test truck's $7,000 worth of options run to more than a dozen items, including $3,236 for a preferred equipment group available only with the Xtreme appearance package. Deep tinted glass is $115; reclining high-bucket seats $291; a third door giving access to behind the seats $295; Sportside body $475; the upgraded Vortec 4.3-liter V6 $1,195; 4-speed automatic transmission $1,095; tilt steering wheel and cruise control $395; and some other items.

For the 2000 model year, all Chevy S-10s, Xtreme or otherwise, get some modest tweaking. The V6 is quieter than before and is said to have greater durability, the airbags get sensing and diagnostic enhancements for added reliability. S-10s remain available in regular or extended-cab models, and four suspension packages are available depending on how you intend to use your truck.

If all you want to do with your low-rider is violate Salt Lake's no-cruising law by struttin' your stuff on State Street, you can go with the cheapest suspension setup.


E-mail max@desnews.com or fax 801-236-7605. Max Knudson's car column runs each Friday.