With so much riding on truck sales these days, it appears General Motors has decided to up the ante in nearly every segment--and that's including full-size vans. It's no secret Ford's venerable E-Series has enjoyed a perennial sales lead in what's become primarily a fleet and commercial market over the past decade or so, but the General now sees the long-in-the-tooth Econoline as ripe for overtaking.

Enter the '03 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana. Fresh off its first major redesign in seven years, GM's full-size-van lineup will offer a smart new look, strong powertrain choices (including the segment's most powerful V-8), and enhanced durability and safety. But most notable is its long list of surprising new features, including such industry firsts as all-wheel-drive models and an optional left-hand-side hinged entry/load door that's sure to please even the most active family, church group, or business/fleet owner.

The new vans, due out this summer, wear a fresh, more prominent face that closely resembles their GM-truck siblings, and they actually share much of the proven componentry--including wheels, suspension, and brakes--that was first developed for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups.

When you add in some trick new commercial models with side windows replaced by innovative flip-up access door panels (think tailgate, opened by the key-fob remote) to allow street-side access to tools and parts, it becomes obvious that GM engineers have been spending many long weekends at Home Depot. But there's far too much news about GM's totally revamped full-size vans to include here. So look for all the details on the '03 Chevy Express/GMC Savana in our exclusive "first drive" story coming up in the next issue.--John M. Clor

Price $22,000-$32,000 (est)
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD, AWD
Passengers 8, 12, 15
Engines 4.3L V-6, 4.8L V-8, 5.3L V-8, 6.0L V-8
On sale in U.S Summer 2002