Full 2013 Chevrolet Express Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevrolet Express Passenger adds an optional navigation system, rearview camera and rear park assist.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that the 2013 Chevrolet Express is good at transporting large groups of passengers. A full-size van is one of the most useful tools that a small company, a little league team or a large family can have in its garage. One of only a few options available in this class, the Chevrolet Express has the capacity to carry eight, 12 or 15 passengers and to top it all off, this van can tow nearly 10,000 pounds.
Competitors in the passenger van segment are few, but the Chevy Express is acceptable Point-A to Point-B transportation for almost any large group. The virtually identical GMC Savana and the Ford E-Series Wagon are the Express' main rivals. There aren't many differences among the three, but the GM vans have more engine options, including a very strong 6.6-liter diesel V8 on the Express 3500 model.
For increased maneuverability, refinement and fuel economy, though, buyers should look at the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Prices on the Sprinter are higher, but its high-roof option also allows for significantly more cargo space and standing room in the back, while its standard diesel V6 engine is far more efficient than any of the engines on the Chevy. We'd also suggest taking a look at the 2013 Nissan NV, which is priced more comparably with the Express. The NV can't match the Sprinter's fuel mileage, but it has a newer overall design than the domestic-brand vans.
The 2013 Chevrolet Express van is certainly outdated after more than 15 years on the market without a major overhaul, nor is it the least bit luxurious. But when it comes to getting large groups of people moving, the Express remains a viable and affordable option.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Express is a full-size passenger van that's offered in basic LS and well-equipped LT trim levels. There are three different load ratings available, including the 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 and 3500. All three are offered in the standard-wheelbase (135 inches) configuration, which seats between eight and 12 passengers. The extended-wheelbase (155 inches) model, which can seat up to 15 passengers, is only available in the 3500 series.
Base LS models are modestly equipped and fleet-oriented, with 16- or 17-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, passenger-side swing-out doors, front air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery, rubber floor covering, OnStar and a two-speaker AM/FM sound system.
The LT trim adds chrome exterior trim, keyless entry, rear air-conditioning and heating, cloth upholstery, full-length carpeting, cruise control, full power accessories, a trip computer, a tilt-only steering wheel and visor vanity mirrors.
Many of the LT's standard features are also available as options on the LS model. Other major options include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a sliding side door, a towing package, six-way power front seats, remote ignition, Bluetooth, a navigation system and an upgraded sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod interface and satellite radio. Also available is a back-up camera with a display mounted either inside the rearview mirror or on the navigation system's screen (if equipped).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Chevrolet Express offers four different powertrains. The 1500 series features a 5.3-liter V8 making 310 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque, backed by a four-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy with either drivetrain is 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
The rear-drive-only 2500 series gets a standard 4.8-liter V8 with 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, or an optional 6.0-liter V8 generating 324 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy with the 4.8-liter is 11 mpg city/17 highway/13 combined, while the 6.0-liter earns 11/16/13.
The rear-drive-only 3500 series comes standard with the 6.0-liter V8. A 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 that puts out 260 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque is optional. Both 3500 series engines come connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is the same as the 2500 with the 6.0-liter. The turbodiesel V8 is the more efficient engine of the two, but mpg estimates are not available because the EPA doesn't rate vehicles that weigh more than 6,000 pounds. Properly equipped, an Express 3500 can tow a maximum of 9,900 pounds.
All 2013 Chevy Express passenger vans come fitted with antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and stability control as standard equipment. A rear vision camera, rear parking sensors and OnStar emergency communications are available as options.
Interior Design and Special Features
Eight passengers can sit in the standard 1500-series 2013 Chevrolet Express vans, while 12 people can fit in the standard 2500 and 3500 models. The long-wheelbase version of the 3500 can be fitted with an extra seat, which gives it room for 15 people.
Controls are simple and easy to use, but there's a lot of hard plastic and even basic features like carpeting and power locks are left on the options list. Legroom for the driver and front passenger is limited by the engine cowling that sticks out from the dashboard. Rear legroom is sufficient, but the standard roof height makes it hard for those in the back to get in and out without ducking.
Although the full-size passenger van class is a small one, the 2013 Chevrolet Express doesn't quite meet the current standard. While the Express is certainly capable of moving large groups of people, it's not as civilized to drive around town. It doesn't handle, ride or steer as well as the Sprinter and NV. It's not a bad choice if cost is the primary consideration, but this van feels outdated, especially in the crowded urban environments where the typical Chevy Express will spend most of its working life.