New Car Review
2017 Chevrolet Express Van 2500: New Car Review
While it's true the 2017 Chevrolet Express Van 2500 can't compete with the cargo carrying capacity of newer, more modern vans like the Ford Transit, RAM ProMaster and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, it still has some redeeming features that have helped make it a fleet workhorse for nearly three decades.
The Express Van's low roof makes it easy to reach equipment mounted on the roof, and because most fleet mechanics have worked on these vehicles for years, long-term service, parts and maintenance shouldn't be an issue. A choice of regular or extended wheelbase models add to the Express 2500 cargo van's flexibility. However, the Express Van's aging design means there's no high-roof version for extra-large cargo like you can get in several rivals, no smaller gasoline engine for improved gas mileage and no multitude of body styles. And the van certainly drives like it's from another era, with a large turning radius and sloppy handling.
What's New for 2017?
The 2017 Chevrolet Express Van 2500 drops the 6.6-liter diesel and CNG V8 engine options. Passenger vans lose some equipment packages, and the third and fourth fuel tank configurations are dropped. A spray-in cargo liner is new this year. Later in the model year, Chevrolet plans to introduce a small displacement 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine option.
What We Like
Affordability; covered cargo area
What We Don't
Outdated design; inefficient engines; extremely low-rent base model; sloppy driving dynamics; not as spacious as rivals
Two engines are offered. Standard is a 285-horsepower 4.8-liter V8, which touts Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-rated fuel economy of just 11 miles per gallon in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. Towing capacity with the 4.8-liter V8 is 8,900 pounds as a cargo van or 8,700 pounds as a passenger van.
Drivers who want more power can opt for an optional 342-hp 6.0-liter V8, which enables the van to tow up to 10,000 pounds in cargo form or 9,600 pounds as a passenger van. The larger engine returns only slightly worse fuel economy of 11 mpg city/16 mpg hwy. The 2.8-liter turbodiesel will arrive later in the model year with 181 hp and a whopping 369 lb-ft of torque. All gasoline engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the diesel is mated to a new 8-speed unit.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Chevrolet Express 2500 is offered in three trim levels: a base-level Work model that only comes as a cargo van and LS and LT trims offered as passenger models.
The base-level Express 2500 Work ($31,940) comes with only the basics. That means vinyl seating, air conditioning, a standard auxiliary port for music and little else. There aren't even power locks, power windows or other niceties.
Step up to the LS ($34,335), and you'll get a little more equipment, such as cruise control, power locks and GM's revised OnStar system with in-car Wi-Fi. More importantly, you'll get 12 seats, as the LS is the van's base-level passenger model.
Many more comfort and convenience features are standard on the Express 2500 LT ($36,160). Added items include keyless entry, cloth upholstery, power mirrors, power windows, power locks, a tilt steering wheel and interior carpeting.
Shoppers can also choose from various options -- even on the stripped-down Work model. Drivers who want a CD player, for instance, can add one; the same goes for the van's available power accessories. For shoppers interested in more luxury, Chevrolet also offers the Express with a newly updated MyLink infotainment system, a rearview camera, parking sensors and an iPod/USB interface.
All Chevrolet Express models include side-curtain airbags, front-side airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. Options include a backup camera and rear parking sensors, while passenger models feature GM's OnStar system as standard equipment.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has crash-tested the Express 2500.
Behind the Wheel
Ponderous proportions typically make for ponderous handling, and in this regard, the Express 2500 delivers as expected. To their credit, GM engineers have done an admirable job of providing the aging platform with a range of powerful V8 engine choices.
As a result, the Express 2500 goes about its business with a surprising degree of eagerness, regardless of engine. But despite the Express' ability to navigate highways and byways, the arrival of recent competitors has moved the needle regarding customer expectations. The industry has moved forward, and ultimately, GM will need to modernize the Express to keep pace.
If space can be construed as a luxury, the Express delivers it in spades. Considering that it's a passenger van from Chevrolet, you'll find the level of comfort serviceable. Also, a visit to a van converter can provide all the additional luxury or decadence you're inclined to purchase.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Suburban -- Yes, one of the most obvious competitors to the Chevrolet Express Van 2500 is in the same showroom. A Suburban will seat up to eight, and while it doesn't deliver the sheer cubic volume of the Express, it tops the van in comfort, capability and over-the-road demeanor.
2017 Ford Transit -- Ford's European-inspired full-size van is also offered in cargo and passenger configurations. But unlike the Express, it boasts several fuel-efficient engine choices, modern driving dynamics and high-tech optional extras.
2017 RAM ProMaster -- RAM's big cargo van is just the latest in a line of full-size vans that has made the Chevrolet Express look like the dinosaur that it is. The ProMaster offers more room, more engine choices and more configurations.
Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- The Sprinter offers impressive capability and efficiency in a considerably more modern package than the Express 3500, but it's also more expensive, so you may want to consider a used model.
We'd shop the competition, but if we had to choose an Express, we'd opt for an entry-level LS (passenger) or Work (cargo) model with sparse options. As rivals have improved dramatically, affordability is this Chevy's last major selling point.