Not particularly modern, but built to work hard.
Although the Express can be converted into an extralarge family hauler, the truth is that full-size vans have for some time been relegated to a life of labor. This is no bad thing, though, because the Express is an indispensable workhorse that can be configured to suit almost any need. There are five engine choices, three trims, two lengths, rear- or four-wheel drive, and light-duty (1500) and heavy-duty (2500, 3500) models. Although light-duty models have to make do with an archaic four-speed transmission, HD models get a fairly modern six-speed automatic, helping fuel economy slightly. The Express’s fully boxed frame means that it’s a superior towing vehicle — even light-duty models are capable of towing 6200 pounds. Interior accommodations are spartan at best, and driving dynamics are what you’d expect from a van that is meant primarily for carrying stuff rather than people. This may come as a shock, but the full-size-van segment grew last year with the introduction of Nissan’s NV. It’s more refined, comes with a wider selection of options, and is now available as a passenger van, so it competes even more directly with the offerings from GM and Ford. We hope Chevy takes a good look at the NV and decides to improve the Express’s creature comforts and driving dynamics.
Nissan NV3500 HD
new for 2013
Rear park assist, a backup camera, and navigation radio (the backup camera displays on the nav screen in vehicles so equipped, not in the rearview mirror) have been added to the options list for 2013.
Front air bags and ABS are standard across the board; side curtain air bags are standard on passenger vans only. Stability and traction control and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard on passenger vans and optional on cargo vans.
Huge towing and cargo capacity
Available six-speed automatic
All-wheel drive optional
Interior could use more refinement
Poor fuel mileage
Base Price Range: $26,000–$35,700
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: (passenger) LS, LT; Cargo
BODY STYLE: Van, 2- to 15-passenger
ENGINES: 4.3L V-6, 195 hp, 260 lb-ft
4.8L V-8, 280 hp, 295 lb-ft (E85 capable)
5.3L V-8, 310 hp, 334 lb-ft (E85 capable)
6.0L V-8, 282/324 hp, 333/373 lb-ft (CNG/E85 capable)
6.6L turbo-diesel V-8, 260 hp, 525 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 4- or 6-speed automatic
CAPACITIES: Towing 6500–10,000 lb; cargo (passenger van, behind last row/all but front row removed) 216.2/252.8; (cargo van) 239.7–284.4 cu ft