2016 Chevrolet Express Review
Pros & Cons
- Robust V8 engines
- hefty towing capacity.
- Less interior space than newer competitors
- no high-roof option
- low-grade cabin plastics
- poor fuel economy.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2016 Chevrolet Express Passenger van is a willing workhorse for buyers looking for the maximum people-moving capacity of a full-size van. But more modern competitors are likely a better fit for your needs.
For the last two decades, the Chevrolet Express has been a very popular choice for buyers, community groups and businesses needing a full-size passenger shuttle van. But while the Chevrolet Express itself has remained largely unchanged over the years, the full-size van market has undergone a dramatic transformation recently. In fact, things have changed so much that this Chevrolet van is now quite behind the times.
Simply put, other passenger van models do almost everything the Chevrolet Express can, but in substantially more fuel- and space-efficient ways. Not only do their standard rear passenger areas benefit from more space courtesy of more modern, less truckish designs, they offer high-roof designs that make it considerably easier to move around inside. They also offer engines that are far more fuel-efficient than Chevy's gas-guzzling V8s. Ultimately the only area where the Express still comes out ahead is in pulling a trailer, where its old-school body-on-frame design gives it an impressive 10,000-pound towing capacity. We're not sure how many passenger van shoppers really need that, though.
All of which leads us to suggest taking a look at more recent entries. Chief among them is the 2016 Ford Transit, which seems positively futuristic next to the Express. The Transit boasts superior handling and maneuverability, a choice of efficient gasoline and diesel engines, and a variety of body styles that include three roof heights, three lengths and four seating capacities. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is another attractive alternative for similar reasons, while the 2016 Ram ProMaster and 2016 Nissan NV also boast some notable advantages over the Express. Despite some small improvements for 2016, the Chevrolet Express Passenger van is far from being one of our recommended full-size van choices.
2016 Chevrolet Express models
The 2016 Chevrolet Express is a full-size passenger van offered in basic LS and 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 long-wheelbase is reserved 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 locks and windows, front air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery, rubber floor covering, a 120-volt power outlet, GM's OnStar emergency communications and a two-speaker sound system with an AM/FM radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The LT model adds chrome exterior trim, keyless entry, rear air-conditioning and heating, cloth upholstery, full-length carpeting, cruise control, 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 power mirrors, rear parking sensors, a sliding side door, a towing package, an engine block heater, a heavy-duty trailering package, remote ignition and a rearview camera (with a display mounted either on the rearview mirror or on the navigation system's screen). Interior options include six-way power front seats, remote starting, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, a USB port added to the standard sound system, satellite radio and a new Chevy MyLink infotainment system with a touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system, a CD player, Bluetooth audio connectivity, smartphone Internet radio apps, voice controls and navigation.
Performance & mpg
Both the 2500 and the 3500 versions of the 2016 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 that produces 339 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.
These gasoline 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 is 13 mpg combined (11 city/17 highway) with the 4.8-liter V8 and 13 mpg combined (11 city/16 highway) with the 6.0-liter.
Choose the Express 3500 model and you can opt for a turbocharged 6.6-liter 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 3500's added weight, the EPA doesn't provide mpg figures for vehicles that weigh more than 6,000 pounds.
Properly equipped, an Express 3500 can tow a maximum of 10,000 pounds.
The 2016 Chevrolet Express Passenger van's list of standard safety features includes antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover the first three rows. Enforced glass is found in models with fourth and fifth rows. Also standard is OnStar emergency communications, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance and stolen vehicle assistance. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are available as options.
On the road, the 2016 Chevrolet Express Passenger van handles like the big truck-based vehicle it is. If you plan on navigating crowded parking lots or other situations where room to maneuver is at a premium, we'd suggest looking to the Transit or Sprinter, both of which feel noticeably more nimble.
If it's pure brawn that's most important to you, however, there's a case to be made for the Express. Both the 6.0-liter gasoline and 6.6-liter diesel engines move the big van out smartly, though they manage to consume quite a bit of fuel in the process. From a practical perspective, either motor has the muscle to move a full load of passengers or tow a big trailer without breaking a sweat.
Primed for passenger duty, the regular-wheelbase 2500 model can seat eight to 12 passengers, while the extended-wheelbase 3500 version adds an extra row of seats to top out at a total of 15 passengers. However, other vans can also do that, and with greater refinement and space. Up front, both driver and front passenger will have to contend with the center engine cowling that eats into legroom. Rear seats are well spaced and of sufficient height to be comfortable, but the low roof makes it a hassle to get in and out and move around due to the hunched-over position the low roof forces upon its occupants.
Gauges and controls are easy to see and use, but don't expect a lot of creature comforts. Cloth upholstery and full-length carpeting are available on LT models, but this is otherwise a pretty bare-bones truck intended for the basic transportation of many people.