KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/8/2012
Many vehicles claim to be versatile do-it-alls, but when it comes to backing claims with fact, the 2012 Chevrolet Express Van puts its money where its grille is. As a passenger van, the Express Van trumps the largest SUVs in the field, with accommodations for up to 15 people. In cargo-haul mode, the Express Van's massive 285 cubic feet of storage volume makes it ideal as a parcel or parts delivery vehicle, or just one really big conversion van (time to relive the 70s, man). Regardless of how you plan to use the 2012 Chevy Express Van, Chevrolet knows you'll likely be moving a decent amount of weight around, which is why the division has given its van a heavy-duty suspension, standard or extended-length cabs, and the option of all-wheel drive. Of course, to pull all that weight also requires a choice of powerful engines, which Chevy happily provides in both gasoline and torque-happy diesel form.
You'll Like This Car If...
Those who need a full-time, multi-purpose work van won't be happy with some V6-powered minivan conversions. The Express Van was designed to accommodate all manner of configuration, from light-duty chores to maximum hauling.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you don't have big people-moving needs, a Chevy Suburban or some other full-size SUV might be a better option. While the Express Van is competent, it's also crude with a rough ride, noisy interior and bench seating that is far from comfortable on long trips.
What's New for 2012
Other than a new color, Wheatland Yellow, there are no major changes to the 2012 Chevrolet Express Van.
With only 195 horsepower on hand, the base Express Cargo Van's V6 engine might offer the best fuel economy on paper, but we're willing to bet that the amount of work this engine has to do to keep a fully loaded van moving will likely return figures more in line with the more powerful and preferable 310-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. Of course, really big jobs are best tackled either by the 6.0-liter V8 engine or the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8. With its 525 lb-ft of torque, there isn't much that Duramax can't haul and its longevity and reliability will likely appeal to fleet managers trying to get the most out of their investments. On a 3500 model with the Duramax engine, Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 9,900 pounds with a 9,700-pound tow rating.
Side Access Doors
The Chevy Express Van's side doors provide easy access to the cargo area without having to climb in from the back.
Consider the 2012 Express Van to be a jack-of-all-trades, one that can carry up to 15 people, boasts 284.4 cubic feet of cargo space, and tows up to 9,900 pounds.
If the dash and steering wheel inside the 2012 Chevrolet Express Van look familiar, that's because many of the big van's bits are shared with other Chevy trucks and cars, although decidedly from a decade past. In its purist form, the Chevy Express Van is a 2-person rig with a massive metal cave residing behind the very supportive high-back front bucket seats. An empty canvas, the Express Van's cargo bay can be configured by any aftermarket customizer, or by taking advantage of Chevy's many packages that include flip-up access panels that allow easy access from outside the van to the rack-mounted tools inside. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Express Passenger Van that allows for such luxuries as power windows, additional seating, carpet, rear air conditioning and Bluetooth.
Let's face it, when the ultimate interior configuration of a vehicle is basically a giant elongated cube, there's not a whole lot of leeway for shaping the exterior. Still, Chevy has modernized its big van with rounded corners, high-mounted taillights and stylish truck-like wheels. The 2012 Chevy Express Van's grille may be its most ornate feature, resembling the trademark look that adorns Chevy's big pickup trucks. Door options include sliding or split swing-out side doors, and split rear doors with or without windows. Beyond these few attributes, the Express Van is shaped very much like the Chevy Vans of the last four decades. Handy exterior accessories include a roof-mounted ladder rack, roof rack cross rail system, and mudflaps.
Notable Standard Equipment
Listed among the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van's standard features are a V6 engine, vinyl flooring and upholstery, air conditioning, a step-up rear bumper and manually-operated exterior mirrors. Frills are not part of the deal, though the Passenger Van does jazz things up some, with a V8 engine and cloth seats. All 2012 Chevy Express models are equipped with stability control, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes and dual front airbags.
Notable Optional Equipment
Creature comforts are not what you'd call plentiful on the 2012 Chevy Express Van, so shoppers will need to look to the options list if they want power windows and door locks or, if they're really feeling crazy, a radio. There are also choices of engines, light-duty (Express 1500) or heavy-duty (Express 2500 and 3500) models, body lengths and various packages. Some of the more noteworthy options include side-curtain airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and the most recent version of OnStar.
Under the Hood
If fuel economy is a primary concern, a Chevrolet Express 1500 Cargo Van equipped with the base 4.3-liter V6 is a buyer's best choice. That 6-cylinder is expected to average 20 mpg on the highway, but with 195 horsepower, it's not exactly a powerhouse. Though less efficient, the 2012 Express Van's four available V8s promise to get most any job done with up to 323 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque. There is also a CNG (compressed natural gas) conversion for the 6.0-liter gasoline engine that includes hardened valve seats and a special 3-tank fuel tank configuration.
195 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 mpg
280 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
296 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17 mpg
310 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
334 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg
323 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
373 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/15 mpg
6.0-liter V8 CNG
279 horsepower @ 4,700 rpm
320 lb-ft or torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.6-liter turbodiesel V8
260 horsepower @ 3,100 rpm
525 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
Chevrolet has set the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2012 Express Van at just over $25,000 for the base model and nearly $50,000 for a fully-loaded version. Prices are always changing, so before agreeing to a deal make sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to determine what buyers in your area are actually paying. Over time, the 2012 Chevrolet Express Van is expected to hold its value better than its major competitor, the Ford E-Series van.