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The Chevy Express Is the Most Ancient New Car You Can Buy

Here’s something you may not have known: the oldest car on the market is the Chevrolet Express and its GMC twin, the Savana. I say you may not have known this not because you don’t know they’re ancient — everyone knows they’re ancient — but because you probably didn’t realize they’re still on sale. But they are on sale, as new 2019 models, and are largely identical to how they were when they came out in 1996.

Yes, that’s right: the Chevy Express and the GMC Savana have now been on the market for 24 years, largely unchanged since day one. Oh, sure, they received a facelift for the 2003 model year — but even if you count that, they’re still the oldest vehicles on sale today, now that the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has been redesigned. And the facelift was entirely cosmetic, as the vans kept their powertrains, transmissions, platform, interior and even most of the same body panels.

Oh, sure, the vans have made some changes over the years. Although they used a 4-speed automatic until 2014, that finally went away, and now you can choose between a 6- or an 8-speed automatic. Engines have come and gone: the old 4.3-liter V6 was replaced with an updated one last year, for instance, and there’s now a 2.8-liter turbodiesel Duramax 4-cylinder. And the 1500 models were discontinued in 2014, leaving just the 2500 and the 3500 versions.

But in general, this is the same old van you could get back in 1996, just updated occasionally, but never thoroughly. It’s offered in two configurations — cargo van and passenger van — and it just keeps chugging along, even as the Ford E-Series finally became the Ford Transit, even as the Dodge Ram Van finally became the Ram ProMaster, and even as other rivals arrived, like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Nissan NV. The Express is there, always there, and it’s even offered in a rather lovely shade called Kinetic Blue Metallic. Not that anyone would notice, of course, because it’s only ever sold in white — as it has been for the last 24 years.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Too bad you can no longer get the 1500 new. In Europe for some, these are still the perfect road trip vehicle. i.e. you pack in your family of 5, all the things you want to bring along plus a coffee maker, a microwave, fishing rods and tents. And hit the road for Southern Spain. Or the Arctic Circle. Or the Alps. The 5.3 or 6.0 V8 engines let you peruse Autobahn speeds without a big penalty in fuel economy, even if full of gear and AWD gives you peace of mind in the mountains and in the Arctic.

  2. Honestly it feels like the last true fleet van out there, with that age old box on wheels look. Something that fleet vans need to be. It’s not the only van that was gone through a major redesign in a while. The Dodge caravan (also old town and country) has been the same design since 2008 while not as in unchanged design as the GMC it still keeps chugging along with it’s design.

  3. funny enough… you can equi[p this van to a serious price level… I managed to get it as high as $58000 CND….pretty crazy.

  4. I mean, they’re fleet vehicles for the most part so why bother changing them up? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This segment of the market cares very little about what car reviewers have to say, because companies still buy their vehicles by the thousands with no end in sight.

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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