What's New for 2001
A new LT trim level with leather and an on-board entertainment system, and a more powerful V8 are the only major changes. Two new exterior colors and upgraded radios and alternators round out the updates for 2001.
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 resulting Chevy Express comes equipped with a cavernous interior and a variety of powerful engines. With its 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 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. Standard side cargo doors are a 60/40 panel arrangement, but a traditional slider is a no-cost option on 135-inch wheelbase vans. 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. 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. An 8.1-liter V8 replaces last year's 7.4-liter engine providing a class-leading 340 horsepower and 455 ft-lbs. of torque. Other powerplants include the 4300 V6, 5000 and 5700 gasoline V8s, and a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8.
A new LT trim level debuts midyear giving Express buyers a luxury level option that includes leather seating, a Bose sound system, OnStar telematics, and flip-down monitors connected to a VCR and game system. Base and LS models still offer standard safety features like child safety locks on the rear and side doors and handy assist handles to 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, antilock brakes, and daytime running lights. The 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 2001, two new exterior colors debut, Light Pewter and Meadow Green, along with a new Dark Pewter interior color.
Overall, Chevrolet's rendition of the traditional full-size van appears to be right on target, giving Ford's Econoline its only real competition.