Full 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo adds an optional navigation system, rearview camera and rear park assist.
The 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo is prepared for most anything you can throw at it. This full-size cargo van has heavy-duty towing capacity, available doors on both sides, varied engine choices and competitive prices. A few years ago you wouldn't have thought twice about buying one for your work needs. But the Chevy Express hasn't changed much over the last 18 years and some competitors have made up that ground.
One such rival is the 2013 Nissan NV, which has a high-roof option that provides much more space to walk and work inside the van versus the Express, which still only has one roof height. Another strong competitor is the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The Sprinter only has one engine available, but its superior driving characteristics and customization options make the Express seem dated by contrast. Smaller options like the Ford Transit Connect and the Nissan NV200 have large cargo holds in smaller and more fuel-efficient packages, which are bound to be compelling if you run a business that doesn't require a lot of heavy equipment.
Of course, by virtue of its size and strong engine lineup, the 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo can still serve you well as a work van. Unless cost or the availability of a diesel V8 is your primary consideration, however, there are several newer cargo vans that offer more versatility and refinement than the Chevy Express.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo is a full-size van that's offered in two wheelbases and three load ratings. The standard-wheelbase model (135 inches) is available in a base 1500 version as well as heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 variants. The extended-wheelbase version (155 inches) is only offered on 2500 and 3500 models.
Standard equipment on the Express Cargo includes 16-inch steel wheels, 60/40-split swing-out right-side doors, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery and a trip computer.
Major options include 17-inch steel wheels, heated power mirrors, 60/40-split swing-out driver-side doors, a sliding passenger-side door, a variety of rear door and window configurations, a towing package, keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, front passenger seat delete, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-only steering wheel, remote ignition, Bluetooth, OnStar emergency communications, a simple two-speaker AM/FM sound system and an upgraded system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. Rear parking sensors, a navigation system and a rearview camera are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo van is offered with a choice of six different engines, starting with the 4.3-liter V6, which produces 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and comes standard on rear-wheel-drive 1500 models. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. A 5.3-liter V8 good for 310 hp and 334 lb-ft of torque is standard on all-wheel-drive 1500 models and is available as an option on rear-wheel-drive 1500s. Fuel economy with this engine and rear-wheel drive is 13/18/15.
The rear-drive-only 2500 and 3500 come standard with a 4.8-liter V8 that produces 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. There are several optional engines from here. A gasoline-fueled 6.0-liter V8 puts out 324 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque. Another version of the 6.0-liter V8 runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and produces 279 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Finally, a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 is rated at 260 hp and a robust 525 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates are not available for these heavy-duty vans, because the EPA doesn't rate vehicles over 6,000 pounds.
The 4.3-liter V6 and 5.3-liter V8 both come mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The 4.8-liter V8, 6.0-liter V8 and 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 are all coupled to a six-speed automatic.
The heavy-duty 3500-series has a maximum payload capacity of 4,187 pounds, and when properly equipped, both the Express 2500 and Express 3500 vans have a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.
All 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo vans have antilock brakes and stability control as standard equipment. Side curtain airbags, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and OnStar emergency communications are available as options.
Interior Design and Special Features
tility is what's important on the inside of a Chevrolet Express Cargo. The dashboard and other plastic surfaces are hard, and controls are simple and easy to use. However, legroom up front is limited by the engine cowling sticking out from the center of the dash. Items like power windows and power locks are optional, making it relatively sparse inside if you decide not to pay for the upgrades. The utility that comes with a Chevy Express doesn't include too many creature comforts.
Interior room is good, with 237 cubic feet of space on the standard-wheelbase model (whose interior volume is identical to the Ford E-Series van). The long-wheelbase Express Cargo provides 284 cubes, approximately 10 feet more than Ford's long-wheelbase van. However, the long-wheelbase Express still falls 263 cubes short of the largest Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which is available with high-roof options that allow you to walk upright in the back of the van. On the upside, the Express' optional driver-side swing-out cargo doors offer extra practicality for owners who need to quickly grab equipment or tools.
Other than affordable pricing, the best reason to look at the 2013 Chevrolet Express Cargo van is its strong V8 engine lineup. The Sprinter might have a leg up on fuel mileage, but the Chevy's available 6.6-liter diesel V8 has the highest torque rating in this class, so it's a good way to go if you're dealing with heavy loads. In other respects, though, the 2013 Chevrolet Express falls short of more modern work vans. Compared to the Sprinter and the NV, it doesn't handle or steer as well, and these shortcomings will be especially apparent to contractors trying to maneuver their vans in crowded urban environments.