2015 Chevrolet Express Review
Pros & Cons
- Powerful, durable V8 engines
- variety of passenger configurations
- strong towing capacity.
- Thirstier, less spacious and rougher riding than newer full-size vans
- cheap cabin plastics.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The full-size 2015 Chevrolet Express van is one of the more versatile and functional passenger vehicles on the road, but it's outdated compared with fresher rivals.
For years, Chevrolet has had a durable and affordable answer for families, community groups and tradespeople needing to transport large numbers of passengers or tow substantial loads. The Express has all the traditional attributes of an enclosed full-size van, and a useful matrix of size and engine choices make it easy to find one with the seating capacity and capability you require. Depending on equipment and configuration, the 2015 Chevrolet Express Passenger can seat eight to 15 passengers, carry payloads of nearly 3,500 pounds or tow 10,000 pounds.
None of these are small jobs, and the Chevy Express is one of the few remaining multipurpose vans based on the tough, body-on-frame mechanicals of a pickup truck. The Express also uses exclusively V8 engines (two gasoline, one diesel), which give it plenty of pulling power but do it no favors in the fuel economy department. General Motors also offers the nearly identical GMC Savana, but most of the 2015 Express' competitors are newer vans that follow the European model of a tall-roof layout to maximize interior volume (while offering headroom for those moving around inside) and unit-body construction, which cuts weight to improve efficiency, payload and towing capacity. These newer vans also use smaller engines, which reduces fuel consumption.
Among this new-age breed of work vans, you'll find the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster, which, like the Express, offer a choice of gasoline or diesel engines (albeit four-cylinders and V6s instead of V8s), but offer multiple roof height configurations (though for the Ram, only on the cargo version) and provide a superior foundation for commercial upfits. If excellent maneuverability and road manners are priorities, you can't go wrong with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which also has an available high-roof layout and uses a diesel V6 exclusively. Another relatively recent addition to the full-size van market is the Nissan NV, which also offers a space-efficient interior (and tall-roof options on the cargo version) but not a diesel engine option.
If you compare the choices, the 2015 Chevrolet Express (which has seen no significant changes since the mid-1990s) undoubtedly is going to look and feel behind the times. On the upside, the rugged underpinnings of the Express have stood the test of time. The big Chevy represents a potential bargain if you need a workhorse van and aren't picky about details and amenities.
2015 Chevrolet Express models
The 2015 Chevrolet Express is a full-size passenger van offered in basic LS and well-equipped LT trim levels. There are two heavy-duty load ratings offered, the Express 2500 and 3500. The standard wheelbase of 135 inches is available for both the 2500 and 3500, while the 155-inch wheelbase is reserved only for the 3500 series Express. Twelve-passenger seating is standard across the board, but eight- and 15-passenger configurations are also available.
Base LS models come with 16- or 17-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, passenger-side swing-out doors, power windows, front air-conditioning, a 120-volt power outlet, vinyl upholstery, rubber floor covering, GM's OnStar telematics service and a two-speaker AM/FM radio with the ability to play MP3 files.
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 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, rear parking sensors, a sliding side door, a towing package, six-way power front seats, remote ignition, Bluetooth phone connectivity, an AM/FM stereo that includes a USB port, an upgraded sound system with six speakers, auxiliary input jacks and satellite radio, and a premium audio system with CD/DVD player, USB port and integrated navigation.
Also available is an engine block heater, a heavy-duty trailering package, remote ignition, a rearview camera (with a display mounted either on the rearview mirror or on the navigation system's screen) and satellite radio.
Performance & mpg
Both the 2500 and the 3500 series versions of the 2015 Chevrolet Express get a standard 4.8-liter V8 engine with 285 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. A 6.0-liter V8 engine generating 342 hp and 373 lb-ft is optional, as is a compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled variant of the 6.0-liter V8 that makes 282 hp and 320 lb-ft.
The V8 engines send power to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Express models with higher gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) use specific rear-axle ratios. The EPA's estimated fuel economy with the 4.8-liter V8 is 13 mpg combined (11 city/17 highway), and the 6.0-liter gas engine also earns 13 mpg combined (11 city/16 highway).
Go for the Express 3500 series and you'll have access to an optional 6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8 (also matched to a six-speed automatic) that generates 260 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. The diesel engine is the more fuel-efficient of the two big V8s, but given the diesel's added weight, 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 10,000 pounds.
All 2015 Chevy Express passenger vans come fitted with antilock brakes, side curtain airbags (for the first three rows of seating), stability control and a six-month subscription to OnStar's emergency communications service as standard equipment. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are available as options.
Even the standard-wheelbase 2015 Chevrolet Express is a large vehicle, and it drives like one. Thanks to the van's blunt nose, though, the grille is usefully close to the driver, and this helps in positioning the front of the van and seeing the front wheels. Still, tidy handling and accurate steering are not among the big Chevy's marching orders, so it's more work to drive than some of the newer vans you might consider. All of the V8 engines are responsive, though, and easily deliver the van to highway speeds even with a full load of passengers or heavy cargo on board.
If passenger carrying is the chief priority, the standard-length 2015 Chevrolet Express accommodates a minimum of eight and up to 12 passengers. The long-wheelbase version of the 3500 can be fitted with an extra bench that seats three more, for a total of 15 riders.
The driver and front passenger are divided by an enormous center bulge covering some of the engine and transmission, the width of which causes the driver to feel squeezed even in this large vehicle. The basic controls are easy to find and simple to use, but comforts are few, as the Express is meant primarily for work or business. Cloth upholstery and carpeting are available on all versions, but you won't find luxuries like leather upholstery or heated seats.
Rear passengers will find the bench seats at a comfortable height and there's enough space between them to make for decent legroom, but the Express' low roof necessitates hunching over to move between front and rear, and using the seatbelts can be a hassle.