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2012 Chevrolet Express

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2012 Chevrolet Express Review

Still chugging along

Reviewed by Automotive on

Configurability is the key word to describe the Chevrolet Express, which offers many ways to move large numbers of passengers, their cargo, or both.

The Chevrolet Express is a full-size van and is available as cargo hauler with just driver and front passenger seating, or as an eight, 12-or 15-passenger van with windows all around. Commercial versions of the Chevy Express come with either right-hand sliding or 60/40 swing-out doors, and optional left-hand 60/40 swing-out doors. Depending on its configuration, the Chevrolet Express payload capacity varies from 2359 to 3944 pounds.

General Motors added a diesel engine to the options list last year. All gasoline-powered Chevrolet Express models are E85 fuel flexible with the heavy-duty GS2500 and GS3500 series equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Chevrolet Express is the second best-selling full-size van in the U.S., closely following the Ford E-Series. The GMC Savana is the more luxurious (for a van) sibling to the Chevy Express, and both vehicles make up nearly 44 percent of the van market share.

The Range

Body style: Van
Engines: 4.3-liter V-6; 4.8-liter V-8; 5.3-liter V-8; 6.0-liter V-8; 6.6-liter diesel V-8
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic, four-speed automatic
Models: G1500, G2500, G3500

What's New

General Motors updated the Chevrolet Express in 2011 so the full-size van carries over essentially unchanged into the new model. Those changes include available diesel on the GS3500 passenger vans; standard 4.8-liter on the GS2500 passenger van; standard StabiliTrak; and available locking differential. General Motors' OnStar is standard on passenger-configured Express vans and optional on others models and trims. Mobile wi-fi is a dealer-installed option.


The Chevrolet Express van was last redesigned in 2002 for 2003 model year and carries over basically unchanged into the new model year. A full-sized van, the Chevy Express can be broken into three different models (G1500, G2500, G3500), two configurations, and two different sizes (regular and extended). While all Express vans has the same length (224 inches), the standard and extended models have different wheelbases, or distance between the front and rear wheels, to accommodate their function as either a cargo van, passenger transport, or both.


The base Chevrolet Express LS is primarily designed as a fleet vehicle, with available 16- or 17-inch wheels, climate control, and basic infotainment system (AM/FM stereo system and radio). Base models can be outfitted with a rubber floor and vinyl covering for the passenger seating. The more expensive LT models include keyless entry, cloth seats, and even Bluetooth and satellite radio.

Performance & Handling

For a full-size van, the Chevrolet Express has a surprisingly comfortable ride. Engine, wind, and road noise are as expected in this class though not uncomfortably so. Acceleration with any of the V-8 engines is strong, especially without passengers or cargo, though--unsurprisingly--the diesel engine proved to be the strongest in test drives. Handling is surprisingly light in the Chevy Express, and drivers will find it surprisingly maneuverable on the road or in a parking lot.


Chevrolet Express full-size cargo vans are equipped with driver and front-passenger airbags systems while Express passenger vans get head and curtain airbags for the first three rows. General Motors' StabiliTrak electronic stability system is standard on all Chevy Express models.

EPA Fuel Economy

Chevrolet Express G1500 (4.3-liter) rear-wheel drive: 15 city mpg/20 highway mpg
Chevrolet Express G1500 (5.3-liter) rear-wheel drive: 13 city mpg/18 highway mpg
Chevrolet Express G1500 (5.3-liter) all-wheel drive: 13 city mpg/17 highway mpg
Chevrolet Express G2500 (6.0-liter) rear-wheel drive: 10 city mpg/16 highway mpg
Chevrolet Express G3500 (6.0-liter) rear-wheel drive: 10-11 city mpg/16 highway mpg

You'll Like

  • Utility
  • Various configurations
  • Diesel offering

You Won't Like

  • Dated design

Sum Up

Still chugging along

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
  • Ford E-Series
  • Nissan NV

See the New 2015 Express.

Front & Driver Side View