Although the Express can be converted into an extralarge family hauler, the truth is that, with the emergence of minivans in the 1980s and the current infatuation with SUVs and crossovers, 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 models (2500, 3500). While light-duty models have to make do with an archaic four-speed transmission, HD models feature 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 about 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 roster has grown by a third this year with the introduction of the Nissan NV. The NV is more refined and comes with a wider selection of options, but it’s only available as a high-roof commercial vehicle and can’t be configured as a passenger van. Still, it costs less and may give the old standbys a run for their money. If nothing else, we hope Chevy takes a good look at the NV and decides to work on refining the Express’s creature comforts and driving dynamics.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim Levels: LS, LT (passenger), Cargo
Body Style: Van, 2- to 15-passenger
Engines: 4.3L V-6, 195 hp, 260 lb-ft
4.8L V-8, 279 hp, 294 lb-ft (E85 capable)
5.3L V-8, 301 hp, 325 lb-ft (E85 capable)
6.0L V-8, 323 hp, 373 lb-ft (E85 capable)
6.6L turbo-diesel V-8, 250 hp, 460 lb-ft
Transmissions: 4- or 6-speed automatic
Capacities: Towing 6200-10,000 lb; cargo 204.0-237.3 cu ft

There are no changes to the Express for 2012.

ABS is standard. Front air bags 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, optional on cargo vans.

All: 10-15 mpg city/14-20 mpg highway

  • Huge towing and cargocapacity
  • Available six-speed automatic
  • All-wheel drive optional
  • Interior refinement
  • Fuel mileage

Old-school transportation best left for work duty.

  • Ford E-series
  • GMC Savana

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