2001 Chevrolet Express Cargo Review
Pros & Cons
- Modern styling, powerful range of engines, lots of cargo-hauling capacity.
- Odd arched-eyebrow taillamps spoil clean design, not as refined as Ford Econoline.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Choices when it comes to full-size vans are easy to make. Do you want a Dodge, a Ford or one of the Chevy/GMC twins? If the Express offers the package you need in a full-size van, then buy it.
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 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. 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 gas V8s, and a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8.
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 latest rendition of the traditional full-size van appears to be right on target, giving Ford's Econoline its only real competition.