The Chevrolet Express Passenger is a traditional full-size van that caters to large families and commercial buyers with a capacious interior and seating for up to 15 occupants. Though its basic architecture dates all the way back to 1996, Chevrolet has made a number of improvements to the interior and powertrain lineup in recent years to keep the Express Passenger (along with the stripped-out, two-seat Express Cargo) competitive.
Being a work-focused full-size vehicle, the Express features a plain but highly functional interior with user-friendly controls and plenty of space for passengers. Storage spaces abound for stowing CDs, maps and the like and cupholders are plentiful. Its girth equates to low handling limits, although the van never feels tippy.
The Express Passenger is offered in three different models (1500, 2500 and 3500) with two trim levels (LS and LT), four engine options, available traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive and two different wheelbases (135 inches or 155 inches).
Express Passenger 1500
The Express Passenger 1500 is equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 that pumps out 310 horsepower and 334 lb-ft of torque. It can be had with standard rear-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel drive (the later is exclusive to the 1500), while the only transmission is a four-speed automatic. The 1500 comes with just the 135-inch wheelbase, which equates to a healthy 216.2 cubic inches of interior space and seating for eight passengers.
The 1500 can be had in LS or LT trim levels. The entry-level LS comes standard with power locks, vinyl seats, OnStar with navigation, front air conditioning, roll-up windows and manually adjustable seats and an AM/FM audio system. To those features, the LT adds power windows, cloth seats, rear air conditioning, cruise control, full-floor carpeting and keyless entry.
For those interested in towing, the 1500 is capable of pulling an impressive 6200 pounds, and payload capacity is 1774 pounds.
Express Passenger 2500
The mid-level Express Passenger 2500 is powered by a 4.8-liter V8 with 280 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with a six-speed transmission, and the combo is good for staggering 9600- and 2530-pound towing and payload capacities, respectively. The 2500 can be had only with the 135-inch wheelbase.
Twelve-passenger seating comes standard in the 2500, which is offered in the same LS and LT trim levels with the same features as the 1500 model.
Express Passenger 3500
The maximum-strength Express Passenger 3500 comes with a standard 6.0-liter V8 or an available 6.6-liter diesel V8. The gas eight-cylinder makes 324 horsepower and 372 lb-ft of torque, while the big diesel produces 260 ponies and a whopping 525 lb-ft of twist. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic. Towing capacity is 9700 and 9900 pounds for the gas and diesel mills, respectively, while payload is rated at 3513 pounds for each of the engines.
The 3500 is the only Express that comes with a choice of wheelbase lengths; the 135-inch model seats 12, while the larger 155-inch edition can seat up to 15. The LS and LT trim levels are again the same as in the 1500.
Each of the Express Passenger models can be outfitted with convenience and entertainment features like a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, remote start, an auxiliary input jack, power seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. OnStar Generation 9.0 (with six-month Directions & Connections plan) and XM Satellite Radio are also available.
Utility options include a heavy-duty locking rear differential, seven-pin sealed connector trailer wiring, and a heavy-duty trailering package.
Recently added to the options list is navigation radio, a rear vision camera and ultrasonic rear park assist.
The Express Passenger comes standard with traction and stability control systems as well as a tire-pressure-monitor. In the event of a crash, there are dual front, front side curtain and rear side curtain airbags.
Looking for a big van to carry a bunch of cargo or people? Besides the Express, options include the popular Ford E-Series, the up-and-coming Nissan NV and, for a bit more coin, the capable Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van.