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2012 Chevrolet Express 3500 Cargo

Overview
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2012 Chevrolet Express 3500 Cargo Review

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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.

Driving the Express 3500 Cargo

Driving Impressions 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.

Capability
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.

2012 Chevrolet Express 3500 Cargo Details
Interior

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.

Exterior

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 Equipment
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.

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.

4.3-liter V6
195 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 mpg

4.8-liter V8
280 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
296 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17 mpg

5.3-liter V8
310 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
334 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg

6.0-liter V8
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

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Chevrolet Express Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 234 Ratings for the 1996 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.3/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.5/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    8.2/10

The Best and Clean Smoothies Van Express

By on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 210,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

Blue attractive reliable Express Van 3500

"The Express van very suitable for owner with 10 or more passenger ride together .It is good for carry some goods as well a long with passenger ."

9 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Blue attractive reliable Express Van 3500

added hitch, ac outlet, built in bed, power window

By on Tuesday, February 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,600

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "all recommened service completed, ready to go far"

Cons: "no cd player, one original rollup window"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"used a few times for short term camping. ran electric heater, microwave, coffee maker, cooler, light and fan off power strip inside, with a power cord from supply to outside inlet -(professionally installed). has strong wood double bed frame with 8 inch memory foam. very comfortable (unless your over 6' tall).four steel shelves for storage, + tote storage under bed -(about 6 wide totes).lots of extra room in back. we hung fishing rods on the inside roof, and lots of small items/tools hang on s hooks on the lockable steel barrier between rear and driving area. great driving and exploring van. one owner died, so selling :-("

48 people out of 90 found this review helpful

good value

By on Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "comfort,smooth ride,spacious"

Cons: "brakes,top heavy,hard wind could affect steering"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"no problems with this conversion van so far.only complaint is brakes as only the front are disc and it needs a stiffer suspension if you use the van on winding roads as it is top heavy.in a strong crosswind you could end up in another lane unless you have a strong grip on wheel.the paint on the roof of the conversion van is fading badly but the main bodypaint of the van still holds a shine and looks good in green.my savanna van has a stiffer ride and hugs the road much better.if seeking a comfortable Cadillac style ride on straight smooth highway is what you seek then the 2002 chevy express fits the bill."

18 people out of 27 found this review helpful

Very good vehicle for traveling

By on Thursday, December 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "$7000.00"

Cons: "well equiped"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"We bought this van for travel purposes, it is in very good condition, clean, has been a good buy for our purpose, we are selling because of our age, 83 & 80, which is best for us not to drive long distances anymore. We have enjoyed it, but now it is best to let someone else enjoy it."

62 people out of 125 found this review helpful

Great reliable work veh

By on Saturday, November 29, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Cons: "Not very safe in rain"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Better than a pickup truck as everything is enclosed Inside is easy to wash out when necessary If only it was sold in 4 x 4 and the fuel mileage was in the high 20s"

43 people out of 83 found this review helpful

Big, roomy and comfortable

By on Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 174,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Converted to conversion van. Very nice. Ride is comfortable. Starcraft conversion . Van sold fopr $25000 in 1999. One owner before I purchased. Drives excellent. Gas mileage averages approx. 19 on hghy. and only 12 in city. Transmission is smooth and the 350 V-* is so dependable and plenty of pep"

49 people out of 81 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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