What's New for 2000
Chevy updates the basic V6 for quieter operation, enhanced durability and reduced emissions. A new rear defogger (on models with fixed rear glass) improves visibility in inclement weather.
When Chevy dealers received a brand-new, full-size van to sell in 1996, it marked the first time in 25 years that GM had completely redesigned its big vans. The Chevy Express comes standard with lots of cargo space, dual airbags and four-wheel antilock brakes. And it can be equipped with a variety of powerful engines. With this modern design and body-on-frame construction, Chevrolet is stealing some of Ford's thunder in the full-size van market.
Because most full-size vans are bought for conversion into rolling motel rooms, engineers decided to put the Chevy Express on a full-frame platform for improved stability. Regular-length models carry 267 cubic feet of cargo, and extended-length vans can haul 317 cubic feet of stuff. Trick rear doors open 180 degrees to make loading and unloading easier. Up to 15 passengers can ride in the extended-length version, making it perfect for use as an airport shuttle. Other seating options include five-, eight- and 12-passenger arrangements. And G3500s can tow up to 10,000 pounds when properly equipped.
For convenience, the full-size spare is stored underneath the cargo floor. A 31-gallon fuel tank keeps this thirsty vehicle from frequent fill-ups, but topping off an empty tank will quickly empty your wallet. Engine choices are sourced from the Chevrolet family of Vortec gasoline motors, or if you prefer, a turbocharged diesel. The Vortec 4300 V6 has been updated for 2000 to provide quieter operation, reduced emissions and improved durability. Other powerplants include the 5000, 5700, and 7400 V8s, and a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8. Standard side cargo doors are a 60/40 panel arrangement, but a traditional slider is a no-cost option on 135-inch wheelbase vans.
Two trim levels are available: base and LS. Child safety locks are standard on the rear and side doors. Handy assist handles help folks climb in and out. Base Express vans include front air conditioning (front and rear air conditioning is optional), vinyl seats, AM/FM stereo, and daytime running lights. LS adds power windows and locks, cruise control and tilt wheel.
Exterior styling is an interesting mix of corporate Chevrolet, Astro Van and old Lumina Minivan. We'll admit the high, rear pillar-mounted taillights are odd looking, but at least they're functional. They can easily be seen even if the van is operated with the rear doors open. Low-mounted bumpers and moldings make the Chevy Express look much taller than it is. An attractively sculpted body side gives the van's smooth, slab-sided flanks a dose of character, as does the quad-lamp grille arrangement. For 2000, new exterior colors and side striping debut, as a new rear defogger is available for models with fixed or vented rear glass.
Overall, Chevrolet's latest rendition of the traditional full-size van appears to be right on target, giving Ford's Econoline/Club Wagon its only real competition.