As one of the few American-style fullsize vans on the market today, the Chevrolet Express and its GMC Savana twin are the only choices for those who insist on a domestic, V-8–powered van.
The separate ladder-type chassis contrasts with the Express’ unibody competition from Ford, Ram, and Mercedes-Benz, giving the Chevrolet a very distinctive truck-like driving experience. Additionally, since it’s only offered as a ¾- or 1-ton van, it’s available with a range of powerful gasoline and diesel-powered V-8s. That alone is worth the cost of entry for some customers, but there are a few drawbacks.
The first is fuel economy. Even with the optional Duramax V-8, the Express is very thirsty. As it hasn’t been updated for several years, its powertrain technology is somewhat behind the times. The next shortcoming is its driving experience. A stiff ride is standard on the Express, with handling like you’d expect on a top-heavy truck. Finally, the ladder-type frame takes up valuable people and cargo space, meaning there’s less vertical clearance in the Express than in its tall-van competition, which feature higher roofs.
Still, the Express is a good value for many customers, particularly those who upfit and can’t afford to transition their equipment to a unibody-type chassis like those of the Transit or ProMaster. If you can find a better body-on-frame, V-8–powered cargo van, then buy it.