Like its rivals from Dodge and Ford, Chevrolets full-size, rear-drive truck-based van has been around for decades since 1964, to be precise. GMC markets a near-twin named the Savana.
Marketed as a cargo van and a passenger model, the Express comes in two sizes and three capacity ratings: G1500 (half-ton), G2500 (three-quarter-ton) and G3500 (one-ton). Built on an extended wheelbase, the 2500/3500 vans seat as many as 15 occupants. A new 8100 V-8 engine is available for 2001, and an upscale LT model joins the base and LS vans. Express vans in unfinished form also are provided to conversion companies.
Regular-length Express vans ride a 135-inch wheelbase and measure 218.7 inches long. Extended-length models are exactly 20 inches longer in each dimension. These vans are considerably taller than minivans, ranging from 79.6 to 83.9 inches. With the seats removed, the cargo volume is 267.3 cubic feet in the regular-length van or 316.8 cubic feet in the full-length model more than twice the capacity of Chevrolets Venture minivan.
Two swing-out passenger-side doors can be replaced by a single sliding door as a no-cost option. At the rear, two doors open a full 180 degrees to ease loading. Exclusive to the new LT model are cladding and a front fascia with integral foglamps, as well as polished cast aluminum wheels.
Base-model G1500 vans have vinyl reclining front buckets and a pair of rear bench seats for eight-passenger capacity. In the G2500 series, theres space for a dozen people on twin three-passenger benches and a four-passenger bench in the way back. Room for 15 is an option for the extended-length G3500. Cargo vans customarily contain just two front bucket seats, and the passenger seat can even be removed if desired.
A new family of radios operates with Radio Data Systems (RDS) technology, which permits the selection of stations by program type and even the possibility of traffic and weather reports. Extra features on the new LT model include a Bose premium stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, GMs OnStar communication system, rear air conditioning and two flip-down video screens with a video player.
Under the Hood
To accommodate a variety of requirements, GM offers a selection of five engines, starting with a 200-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 for the G1500 model. Depending on the model, a 220-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 or a 255-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 might be the standard powerplant for G2500/3500 vans. Options for heavy-duty models include a 195-hp, 6.5-liter, V-8 diesel engine and a new 340-hp, 8.1-liter Vortec 8100 V-8 that replaces a 7400 engine.
All engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission. A G1500 passenger van can tow 4,700 pounds, while heavier-duty models are capable of hauling as much as 10,000 pounds, depending on the engine. Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard, and side-impact airbags are not available.