Pros: Cavernous interior; mechanically simple; competitively priced

Cons: Outdated design; outdated interior; poor fuel economy

What's New: The Chevrolet Express Cargo is unchanged for the 2013 model year.

The Chevrolet Express is available in two distinct versions -- a passenger model (sold with seats and windows) and a highly useful cargo model. This overview largely applies to the cargo variant, which is sold with two front seats, no windows and an unfinished cargo area.

Cargo versions of the Express offer three different "grades," or trim levels. The base-level Express 1500 is available only as a regular-length model, while the heavier duty Express 2500 and 3500 are available in regular length or extended length. Extended-length models offer a longer wheelbase for improved carrying capacity.

The Express 1500 offers two powertrains. Its standard engine is a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 195 horsepower, which is hardly up to the task of motivating the large van. An optional 310-hp 5.3-liter V8 provides extra grunt for drivers looking to haul larger items. Both engines are mated to a 4-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is optional.

Shoppers who need to carry even bigger loads can get an Express 2500 or 3500. Those trims come standard with a 280-hp 4.8-liter V8, while a 323-hp 6.0-liter V8 is optional. For drivers who want to get the most out of their cargo van, the Express 2500 and 3500 are also available with a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8. Although that engine makes only 260 hp, it produces a whopping 525 lb-ft of torque.

On the inside, cargo versions of the Express are bare-bones work trucks, offering only a few convenience features; they include remote keyless entry, a remote engine starter and power windows. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, traction control and an anti-skid system -- important features in a large vehicle such as the Express.

Pricing for the Chevrolet Express Cargo starts around $29,000, and can run as high as $43,000 for a diesel-powered, extended-length Express 3500. While that may seem steep, it undercuts rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- and it offers a practicality few vehicles can match.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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