By Matt Degen
The 2016 Chevrolet Express is among the last of a dying breed: the full-size, body-on-frame van. Where it used to battle the Ford E-Series, the Express now faces a slew of fresh, more efficient rivals like the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster, Nissan NV and Mercedes-Benz Metris and Sprinter. Despite its age, this workhorse still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Primarily, it excels at hauling a lot of people or stuff. As a passenger van, it accommodates up to 15 people. In extended-length cargo form, it boasts nearly 285 cubic feet of space. And because it's been around so long, the Express is a known quantity to both drivers and upfitters. Plus, the Express' gasoline and diesel engines can still outmuscle rivals.
If you prefer the tried-and-true, the Express is the van for you. It also still leads the class in towing capacity, with up to 10,000 pounds via its optional 6.0-liter gasoline or 6.6-liter diesel V8 engines. As a shuttle for commercial duty or large families, passenger versions of the Express hold up to 15 people.
In addition to being more fuel-efficient, easier to drive and boasting newer safety and infotainment technology, rivals like the Mercedes-Benz Metris and Ford Transit offer more flexibility with various roof heights. If you need an all-wheel-drive van, look to the Mercedes Sprinter.
The 2016 Chevy Express vans gain OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with built-in Wi-Fi, plus an available navigation system with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system. Cargo versions of the van get an AM/FM radio standard (finally).
Driving the 2016 Chevy Express will be, for almost all van buyers, a familiar experience with no surprises. For a big vehicle the Express drives as expected, with predictability and...
... stability but also with, understandably, some potential awkwardness in maneuvering in tight spots. But, a buyer of a full-size van should understand all that right up front. A big point of driving satisfaction with the Express would be equipping it with the engine appropriate to its use. While the 4.8-liter V8 is fine for lighter loads, if the Express is going to be asked to carry more weight or pull a trailer of any size, we recommend either the 6.0-liter gasoline V8 (also available to run on compressed natural gas, or CNG) or the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8.
6.6-liter DURAMAX TURBODIESEL V8
If you’re planning on using a van to not only haul stuff inside but also pull a hefty trailer, the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine, with 525 lb-ft of torque, is a monster powerplant in the large-van class. It might be reason enough, by itself, to swing the purchase decision.
Thanks to its range of strong engine offerings and its rugged construction, the Chevrolet Express can haul a lot of stuff inside or tow up to 10,000 pounds. It's available in a wide variety of configurations and prices, has an extensive availability of upfitter accessories and offers exceptional flexibility.
The 2016 Chevy Express is a vehicle for serious work, and the interior reflects that. Cargo versions provide reasonably comfortable seats for the driver and one passenger, and the rest is a big box waiting whatever can fit inside. The Express Crew option adds seating for a total of five passengers. Many Express owners head straight to the appropriate upfitter, where the interior can be configured to suit practically any need. The Passenger version can be equipped more sumptuously, if “sumptuous” fits in the van world, with enough seating for up to 15 people across four rows, carpeting and rear air conditioning.
The Chevy Express, in either Cargo or Passenger versions, has been around for years and its shape is a familiar one. It’s a box with rounded corners and is not unattractive; in fact, it looks about as good as might be reasonably expected. Even though the vast majority of Expresses on the road are white, it is actually available in several colors. Exterior differentiations are few, but include sliding or split swing-out side doors and rear doors with or without windows. Obviously, Passenger models have windows along both sides, and a passenger-side sliding door is available on both versions of the van.
The 2016 Express van puts function far above frills, but at its most basic does include power windows and door locks and air conditioning. For 2016, workmen can finally enjoy some tunes thanks to a standard AM/FM stereo with auxiliary input. Like other GM vehicles, OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity is fitted standard, a boon for operators who need mobile Internet connectivity. Base Express Passenger models include seating for 12 (15 in extended length). All models have stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and dual front airbags. Passenger vans feature side-curtain airbags covering the first three rows.
If you want anything beyond the 4-wheeled transportation-and-cargo module that's the basic 2016 Chevrolet Express Cargo Van, you'll have to hit the option list. Luckily, it's pretty long. You can get navigation, Bluetooth, and backup sensors and a rearview camera, and the most recent version of OnStar. There are also choices of engines, standard or extended body lengths, and various option packages. Passenger versions start with a higher equipment level than Cargo models, but otherwise the option packages are largely the same.
The base engine for the 2016 Chevy Express is the proven 4.8-liter V8 that puts out 285 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. For carrying heavier cargo, or for more strenuous work, there’s the optional 6.0-liter V8 with 329 horsepower and 373 lb-ft of torque. The 6.0-liter engine is also available to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG), but that system is nearly $11,000 extra. At the top, the available 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 delivers 260 horsepower and a stout 525 lb-ft of torque. All models are rear-wheel drive and use a 6-speed automatic transmission. None is very fuel-efficient, one reason fresher, easier-to-drive cargo vans like the Mercedes-Benz Metris are drawing new customers. Then again, rival vans with smaller engines can't tow up to 10,000 pounds.
285 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
329 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
373 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/16 mpg
6.0-liter V8 CNG
282 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
320 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8
260 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm
525 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
A 2016 Chevy Express Cargo van has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $31,600, while a base Passenger model starts at just over $33,000. In contrast, a fully equipped diesel Chevy Express van costs over $50,000. At these prices, Chevy's full-size van starts slightly higher than the new Mercedes-Benz Metris and is in line with the Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit. It is several thousand higher than the full-size Nissan NV and around $10,000 beyond the Chevy City Express, a smaller cargo van based on the Nissan NV200 that is better-suited for light-duty work. Not surprisingly, the Chevy Express' pricing nearly mirrors that of its GMC sibling, the Savana. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new van. The Express' resale value is predicted to be only marginal, with the diesel models faring better.