What's New for 2002
For 2002, Express gets only minor upgrades like the availability of rearview mirrors with an integrated compass and temperature reading, a more efficient starter, a stronger steering gear housing and low emission vehicle compliance for models equipped with either the 8100 V8 or 6.5-liter diesel and a GVWR of more than 8,600 pounds.
Chevy's brawny Express van comes equipped with a cavernous interior and a variety of powerful engines, like most full-size vans. But with the Express' modern design and body-on-frame construction, Chevrolet is stealing some of Ford's thunder in this narrow but lucrative market.
Because many 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.
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 is the most powerful gasoline engine available providing a class-leading 340 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. Other powerplants include the 4300 V6, 5000 and 5700 gasoline V8s, and a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8. All G1500 and G2500 models get GM's 4L60-E four-speed transmission, while heavier-duty G3500s use a stronger 4L80-E shifter. ABS brakes are standard equipment on all Express vans.
The upscale LT trim level gives Express buyers a luxury-level option that includes leather seating, an optional Bose sound system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer with dual 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 cloth upholstery, 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 be seen easily 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.
Overall, Chevrolet's rendition of the traditional full-size van appears to be right on target, giving Ford's Econoline its only real competition.