By on June 18, 2008

14.jpg

I greeted my temporary assignment to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada with joyful anticipation. After numerous hours in an E-3 looking for simulated bogeys over the Mojave Desert, the proximity to Sin City was a welcome reprieve. Stepping down from my jet, Technical Sgt. Peters handed me a set of keys and pointed to the terminal's parking lot. Examining the plate number on the tag, and seeing a Chevy emblem on the key, I expected a minivan. Instead, a ginormous Express 3500 15-Passenger van assaulted my vision. For this I defend my country?

A van can't look beautiful- any more than a Victoria's Secret model can negotiate an Israeli – Palestinian ceasefire. At best, a van can look conservatively handsome. At worst, it looks like this. The Express' cheap grey plastic grill, cheap black headlight surrounds, and flanking black plastic taillights could be described as a rolling trailer park refrigerator. Did you notice the side strakes? Why would you?

06.jpgAll Express vans have dents in the passenger rear side doors. We finally solved the riddle when we realized that GM forgot to put a detent stop on the door, letting it swing open fully into the front passenger door, leaving a series of scars on both.

When I opened said doors, I reeled back in terror. The van's interior is an unattractive, poorly-built ergonomic disaster zone. My cohort, Captain Alfred, displayed his usual flair for automotive insight. "What a piece of crap." That's an affirmative sir!

The Express "boasts" acres of cheap beige plastic, spread throughout the cabin like polymer kudzu. I'm not saying the van's panel gaps are large, but I wouldn't let Paris Hilton ride in it lest her chihuahua fall into one of the gaps and disappear forever (perish the thought). The Express' plastic flash seams ripped my flight suit as I hoisted myself into the driver's seat- an extremely difficult not to say pointless maneuver, as there are NO grab handles ANYWHERE in the van. In fact, I nearly fell right back out (thigh bolstering need not apply. And doesn't.)

32.jpgThe Express' driver's seat slides forward and aft. And that's it for any pretense of driver comfort from GM. No tilt or telescopic wheel adjustments, no electric side mirror or seat recliners. At least our 1LT optioned van had armrests– swathed in cloth so rough my elbow left enough skin for a burn victim. The air conditioner coughed cool air at us and the AM/FM radio crackled out the signal from an eight bazillion watt stations.

The Express' crank window levers are so flimsy that a gap appears between the knob and the arm, pinching the webbing between your thumb and finger every time you roll down the window. Now that's cheap.

40.jpgAt least the Express seats 15 people. Luggage? Not so much. The idea of driving an Express with MORE weight on top or towing a trailer does not fill me with confidence  (as in scares me to death). In our tester, the Express' spare stood upright IN THE MIDDLE of the cargo area. Did I want to know what chain of events led to this situation? Uh…

Equipped with Ye Olde 6.0-liter Vortec V8 engine groaning out 300bhp, "my" Chevrolet Express should have driven con brio. If we're talking about Brio wooden toy trains, then yes. Otherwise, no. While the transmission shifts decently for a truck, the engine roared like a jet belching turbine blades out the back end. Three-hundred bhp my ass. The Express drives like there's 150bhp on tap, at most.

Turning corners turns the word "Express" into a cruel joke. There's no steering feel. The ride's bouncy enough to make Tigger nauseous. And the brakes are mushier than English peas. The Express' tendency to leap into the air, jiggle the front wheels and then crash back on the pavement is a direct challenge to a jet pilot's hand – eye coordination, especially at 70mph.

031.jpgTruth be told, the ABS-equipped Express van very nearly killed me. When a Dodge Neon pulled out in front of me (oh the ignominy), the Express' ABS failed to even-out the braking force. The Express yawed to one side, and then the other, as the computer "compensated" noisily. The "moment" destroyed any feeling of safety for myself and my passengers, confirmed by screams from people who routinely face death by terrorist attack.

The number of quality issues on a 2007, 30k mile Express van- from side mirror that jiggled so much they were rendered useless, to rotting window seals– is astounding. If your church/team/organization owns a Chevrolet Express, SELL IT NOW. After spending three weeks with an Express, I am morally obliged to tell you that you are FAR better off walking than driving this rolling death trap.

021.jpgNote to GM: fire the engineers responsible for the Chevrolet Express 3500 15-Pax van and remove it from sale. Anything less is an insult to the intelligence– and ongoing health– of the people who pay your salary. 

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105 Comments on “2007 Chevrolet Express 3500 Review...”


  • avatar
    BEAT

    I think the whole entire Boston Celtics team will fit in this van.

    Congratulation to my Home town team the Celtics.
    It’s been a very long time.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    Wow, this reminds me of Consumer Reports saying that the Suzuki Samurai was too dangerous to allow on the road. This review should be disseminated widely, and perhaps elaborated on, the TTAC 800 word limit notwithstanding. Every year there are far too many fatal accidents involving vans like this.

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    I guess the design target with this vehicle was “old yellow school bus.” If that’s the case, I think they hit it spot on. I totally agree on the ergonomics on this one. I’ve driven quite a few of them, and it really feels like a puninshment. The lack of a handle anywhere is a huge mistake as well; I’m a big guy and I have a hard time getting in this beast.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    There is no reason GM should build such a POS. Maybe the government should just have Toyota build the people haulers they need and take the political hit for it. I don’t even want to guess what the MPG or acceleration is for this tank, let’s hope it has a gigantic gas tank to go with it. Maybe Express refers to fuel consumption.

    The Dodge version is even worse. It sports a monster back end that is almost as far from the rear wheels as the engine is. Passengers in the rearmost seats need barf bags.

    The worst part is these vehicles cost a lot and the Gov’ment doesn’t get a decent deal at all.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    That has to be the most acid laden review I have ever seen. Though I think it tells more about GM than about TTAC.

  • avatar

    I think the mission of a 3500-series van is to both haul people and tow stuff. Suspension calibrations are tuned to match, though it is a little odd that it only came with the 5.3L. Is performance really that bad for a top-heavy truck?

    Granted I’ve never driven the Express, but I’ve had rental Econolines and they drove fine for its design. Handling didn’t suck too bad if you treated it with respect.

    I’m really inclined to drive this and the Econoline back to back now.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    And hence the reason Ford’s Econoline thrives despite remaining largely unchanged for the last 86 years.

  • avatar
    wulfgar

    We have ones of these where I work and this is a very accurate review. What seems worse is when one rides in the rear passenger accommodations. The seat-belts follow through some sort Rube Goldberg-esque operation of slots and maneuvers to operate. The whole operation is counter-intuitive and seems ripe for a lawsuit. A classic area where no competition breeds no improvement.

  • avatar
    mel23

    I have an ’03 1500 Express and I love it. It’s MUCH better than a half-ton pickup; 10′ of space behind the front seats and it keeps your stuff dry and cool/warm. I knew I’d be running empty most of the time so ordered the 4.3 engine and 3.42 rear end. Result, no power at all if I have any load, but I average about 19-20 mpg and about 20 on the highway at 70 mph.

    Talked to a guy once at the dealer who buys a new 3500 cargo Express every other year. Says it has a great ride, as does mine, and gets good mileage.

    The seats suck. They’re more like a stool, although soft. Tilt steering wheel is optional and even my stripper has reclining front seats.

  • avatar
    kericf

    In college I worked for a computer company that used these for local delivery/service. There were two nearly new Chevy “Express” and an old as dirt Ford Econoline (I think it was a 1994 model). The Econoline was the van of choice. It felt like driving a sports car compared to Express. The gas mileage in the Chevy was about 12 mpg, the Ford was around 14, so really not much difference, though people usually drove these things hard. The Chevy did have the Ford beat on the “OH SHIT I THINK I’M GOING TO DIE” aspect, and the cruise control is the worst of any car I have ever driven. When you set a speed the van tries to stay somewhere within 20mph (plus or minus) of that speed. A little slower sometimes, a LOT faster sometimes, but hey, you don’t have to hold the gas pedal down right? RIGHT? The transmission was rough as could be when it shifted too, one guy said it felt like riding a mechanical bull when trying to accelerate hard and was even worse when towing trailers. By comparison the 20 year old Ford was heaven, not to mention the seats were so worn they had that comfy old recliner feel to them.

    By far the worst vehicle I have ever driven, but no one really buys these as personal vehicles unless they have 20 kids so I don’t really think they were aiming to make it that driveable.

  • avatar

    @ Sajeev, The Ford E-Series vans are much better, as in they are actually stable. The ergonomics aren't much better, but the plastics are put together better, they hold up better, and the skid control actually works. Acceleration is also better, despite having fewer horses out of the 4.6L Triton. I've spent extensive amounts of time with the Econoline, Express, Ram Van, and Sprinter (as dictated by my job), and the Sprinter completely blows all of them away in every category, especially mileage. The Express we had got 12-14, the E-Series gets 16-17, and the Sprinter got 27mpg. (Can I use the word "better" any more? Need Starbucks to write better…. ) And they all cost roughly the same for the Govt and you @ $40,000 And the review wouldn't be so harsh if the van weren't so dangerous when it doesn't have to be…

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    just a thought,

    perhaps the cr@ppiness of the van at 30k miles is as much due to its ‘owner’ and potential neglect/hoonage of its drivers who could care less about anything but getting the vehicle to the end of its trip, as it does about GMC….

  • avatar
    taxman100

    When I was in the Marine Corps, they never bothered to buy vehicles with air conditioning. I remember the standard vehicle used by MP’s, officers, etc. was the Plymouth Reliant.

    The Air Force has air conditioning, and drinks Starbucks? Well la-de-da!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    taxman100:

    They got to meet with all them fancy your-a-peein’ coalition forces guys.

    You wouldn’t want a latte gap.

  • avatar

    @ improvement_needed,

    Yes, I thought of your exact comment. It must be the “drivers” of the van. However, my crew had 4 of these things, ranging from a “mint” condition 2K miles ’08 Model to mine, the oldest with 30K. All had the side dents on the door from no door stop, and all had the poor build quality and crappy driving dynamics. Even the new one’s Skid-Control “malfunctioned” when it hit water on Nellis Blvd. I got to experience the “moment” full on while in the rear-most seat (holding onto the spare tire for dear life).

  • avatar
    prndlol

    Aren’t Chevrolet Expresses, at least when in Airport Express guise, responsible for the deaths of countless passengers as a result of a myriad of highway collisions/rollovers/flipovers and fires?

    That’s pretty much the first thing i think of when i see this van- “Our top story tonight”

  • avatar
    WildBill

    I can’t speak for the Chevy but I think the Ford vans in stripper, work-truck trim are about as bad as the Chev in this review. Maybe the higher trim levels aren’t as crude. A friend has an E-250 with high miles (200K plus) and I feared for my life driving it. I felt like I was sitting in a hole (seemed like a very low driver position), surrounded by plast-crappiness, with questionable brakes and controls. My old ’89 Ford Club Wagon however is a dream to drive and I can get 20 mpg highway if driven reasonably. It’s the old style w/o air bags, anti-lock brakes, skid control, etc.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    We had an ambulance call to a minor New York Thruway accident awhile ago involving one of these, and it turned out to be filled with 15 Puerto Rican hookers on there way to Newburgh for TDY. None of them hurt, but we had a great time with their, ah, costumes. So these vans have lots of uses.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    A review of an ’07 cargo van as we’re heading into the ’09 Model Year with a surplus of awesome cars still to be reviewed?…Did this site just Nuke the Fridge?

    I like the Chevy Express. It’s way better to drive than the Econoline, gets decent economy, and, you know, does its job well. I haven’t driven the Sprinter, but I suspect that probably would be tops in this category.

  • avatar
    virages

    So has anyone driven one of the European vans, like what is sold from Mercedes, Ford (europe), or Renault for example? How would these things compare to a Chevy or Ford US model.

    I’ve rented a Mercedes and a Renault for moving furniture, and aside the rental grade swaths of plastic, I found that they were pretty good. You can’t expect that they would handle like cars, but I never felt in danger in them. I even had fun rowing the 6 speed manual transmissions. The engines got pretty decent mileage too, being of the diesel variant.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Mike Solowiow:
    And they all cost roughly the same for the Govt and you @ $40,000 And the review wouldn’t be so harsh if the van weren’t so dangerous when it doesn’t have to be…

    Maybe they doesn’t fit mission requirements, but you could get 2 slightly used Suburbans / Expeditions for that price…

  • avatar

    @ Buick61

    We like variety!

  • avatar
    jjdaddyo

    So I’m guessing it did not post a 0.95g on the skidpad?

  • avatar

    Buick61
    A review of an ‘07 cargo van as we’re heading into the ‘09 Model Year

    That is true, but GM still lists the ’07 model on their fleet sales web site!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    In GM’s defense, I doubt they ever get feedback from the government on the design, nor do the “customers” ever get around to telling GM what they think of the vehicle. This is the first time I read a review of one of their generic vehicles, although I have experienced them firsthand. But the quality issues and door mistakes are inexcusable. Instead of asking Roger Clemmons if he juiced maybe they could ask GM if they were kidding when they built these things.

    We had Dodge vehicles and a few chevy PU trucks in our motorpool. Since there was no way we were getting anything but standard american iron we put up with them. But I would never buy one myself.

    In Germany we had a VW van that was diesel powered and speed limited to 62 MPH. That was torture on the autobahn as we were forced to the left and it slowed to 55 or less on hills.

  • avatar
    jjdaddyo

    Could we have a review of the Dodge Sprinter? That model is light years ahead of the Econoline/Express technically (unibody! economical diesel! four different body types!) but unfortunately it seems to be a stealth vehicle. Made in Europe so exchange rate is killing Chrysler, I bet, and no deals to be had at the dealership.
    But a 1000 times better than Ford/GM product. Chrysler toyed with building them in the US back in the late 90’s but finally decided against it. If they had made the leap, they would own this market now.

  • avatar

    These are the default vehicles for Prevost-deprived bands on tour. If they want to sell more to just-signed bands, they need more secret cubby holes for drugs and more piss bottle holders.

    I’ve driven many different versions of these turdmobiles and eventually bought a Sausage Toupe 1500 Express 12 passenger, with the 350 and tow package.

    It handles better than the Fords / Dodges I’ve driven / rented and gets better mileage for some reason (gets 15 towing a trailer filled with huge amps and drums 19-20 otherwise). The 350 is a beast and it has never stranded me or the bands in 170k, so far.

    The Freightliner / Dodge / Mercedes “Lorry” van competition is much nicer, but it is even more top heavy.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    NOTE: Comment strictly from a passenger point of view.

    I haven’t actually driven any of these vehicles (thankfully) but I spend a lot of time riding in full size vans (hotel to airport crew shuttles) and have to agree with some of the previous posts: Sprinters are by FAR the better van. Fords are a distant 2nd, the Chevy’s are always crap, no matter how new they are. The only advantage they have over the Ford is the air conditioning seems to work a little better in the back rows. If the price is really anywhere near the Sprinters you would have to be nuts to buy the Ford or especially the Chevy. Can you get a DuraMax or a PowerStroke in these things? I know the Mercedes sourced diesel would certainly be a huge factor in my purchase decision if you can’t.

    I don’t know what the cargo version comparison would be like, or what the actual economics of owning and operating any of thses things would be. But strictly from a passenger standpoint, the Chevy can’t compare to the Sprinter.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    Sprinter design is unibody. Can’t handle loads like a full frame vehicle. Also, diesel not exactly in demand at this time. As far as different body types, GM van is available as pass or cargo, all wheel drive, regular length or extended, gas or diesel or Cutaway version in 3 different chassis lengths with single or dual rear wheels(box trucks, utility bodies).

  • avatar
    mel23

    The Freightliner / Dodge / Mercedes “Lorry” van competition is much nicer, but it is even more top heavy.

    And way more expensive. I drove a Sprinter before I bought my Express. But it was almost $10k more and I didn’t like the idea of looking for a Freightliner dealer to service the thing; this was before Dodge got involved. I’d be concerned if I had one now with the questionable survival of Dodge as well. I don’t remember a gas engine being a Sprinter option back in late 2002, but I see it is now. But it comes with a 5.1 rear end which might make it a gas hog.

    We see a lot of Sprinters in service for FedEx and UPS, so I guess the mpg advantage pays off with enough use

  • avatar
    BEAT

    In my own opinion this van more safer than the Mercedez Sprinter. I see this van with disabled people and day care school bus but with windows though.

    I wonder why they use this van for school bus if it’s really unsafe?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Dodge-Sprinter.jpg

  • avatar
    alexdykes

    After having driven one from San Francisco to Phoenix and back, I can safely say the long term review is no better than the initial experience.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Haven’t some school districts banned these because of their unstable handling?

    I realize that these are intended to be utilitarian vehicles but…I’ve rented a few and they are atrocious. Anyone coming to one of these from a car will slam their door three times once they get going because the wind noise. Horrific build quality.

  • avatar
    Mud

    I’m waiting for the UPS truck review.

  • avatar
    TR3GUY

    How sad! What do they think? People that need to haul lots of people don’t care about the vehicle. This sounds like the van you read about that went through a guard rail on a raining night killing all of the people go to either 1. Atlantic City or 2. a Church outing or 3. Boy Scout retreat. Gess so much for the A team notion of a van – GMC Vandura van.

    Kill this before it kills you.

  • avatar

    Idiots wreck these things constantly because they rent them. They jump in expecting to be able drive it like an Accord to Fat Camp or Scientology retreats. Physics is not their subject.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Turning corners turns the word “Express” into a cruel joke. There’s no steering feel. The ride’s bouncy enough to make Tigger nauseous. And the brakes are mushier than English peas. The Express’ tendency to leap into the air, jiggle the front wheels and then crash back on the pavement is a direct challenge to a jet pilot’s hand – eye coordination, especially at 70mph.

    I thoroughly agree with you Mike. We have a fleet of them here where I work and everything you describe concerning the ride is spot on. Usually when the Express is loaded up, the ride softens a bit but then the van’s dynamic behavior turns mushy and dimwitted.

    And don’t get me started on the interior.

    For what it is (in our case the panel van version) the Express is good at what it does, but I would NEVER recommend it as a people carrier.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Haha great review, I love reading reviews of vehicles that NEVER POSSIBLY get reviewed anywhere else. Good call, and what a POS van!

  • avatar
    peoplewatching04

    It’s great to see a review of this ignominy on TTAC. For the last four years, I’ve worked for the transportation office at my college that has a fleet of 25 of these.

    Myself and the other students I work with are responsible for the general maintenance of these, and things can be downright hilarious at times. We’ve gotten vans off of the truck (with less than 100 miles on them) that didn’t start. (We put 45k miles on these per year, and only keep them for two years, so you can imagine the type of problems we get to encounter). The horrendous build quality and lousy plastics would be forgivable if the mechanics were reliable. But they aren’t!

    Year after model year we see the same transmission, engine, A/C, and suspension problems. Twice, the spare tire has fallen off when the van hit a bump, creating an accident for the car behind it. The ride quality is so poor that we have to keep someone on-call at all times to clean up puke. No joke.

    Also, you mentioned that the back door hits the front, causing body damage. This is 100% true, as all of ours have had to be repaired for that at the end of the lease. GM does put in a detent stop to prevent the door from hitting the other, but it usually falls off after about a month of use. Not only does the back door swing into the passenger door, but it sometimes hits the front passenger as they exit the van.

    Good stuff, this review really speaks the truth. If you dealt with the mechanical issues on a POS like this, you’d have even more to write about.

  • avatar
    8rings

    Ah 15 pax vans at Nellis. I could tell you some stories. With the a/c units in the vans always pumping out warm air I always wondered what the engineers were thinking during hot weather testing, “yeah that will do just fine”?? (that goes for Ford as well).
    Do you know that all 14 of your passengers must be buckled in to drive 25mph around Nellis? Even if you are buckled you will still get a ticket for them. Ask me how I know that.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    The old GM vans were stout…especially with the 6.2/6.5 diesel. Buddy had a 3/4-ton GMC Rallye Sport (he said it was top o’ the line) in high school, sat higher than any other non-lifted truck or suv. Had 420k KM on it and would smoke the tires! But the gearing limited it to 76mph, still hauled some heavy loads across the country.

    Best part was the sticker he made for the rear window “Don’t laugh, your daughter may be in here”

    At 26, and just out of med school, he replaced it with a Sprinter. Van-lovers…go figure.

  • avatar
    carm

    This week I have painters at my house and they show up in a 6 month old (per head painter) Express van. One of the workers gets out of the van and immediately puts a drop cloth underneath the van between the front wheels to catch a leak. When I asked him what was going on, he said, “Yeah it’s leaking something, they all leak, we just don’t want to ruin your driveway.”

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    This is what you get when the Japanese don’t compete with the domestics in a market segment. The domestics get fat and lazy and build crap. I still don’t know why Toyota doesn’t sell their Hiace van in the US (which is basically a Toyota version of this type of thing, without the screaming).

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    virages :
    June 18th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    So has anyone driven one of the European vans, like what is sold from Mercedes, Ford (europe), or Renault for example? How would these things compare to a Chevy or Ford US model.

    I’ve rented a Mercedes and a Renault for moving furniture, and aside the rental grade swaths of plastic, I found that they were pretty good. You can’t expect that they would handle like cars, but I never felt in danger in them. I even had fun rowing the 6 speed manual transmissions. The engines got pretty decent mileage too, being of the diesel variant.

    The Dodge Sprinter is a rebadged Mercedes van (although built in the US). It’s also usually considered to be the best in this segment, probably the only thing with a Dodge badge on it to make that claim.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    NickR :
    June 18th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Haven’t some school districts banned these because of their unstable handling?

    It’s actually against federal law for a school district to use these to trasport students. (They don’t meet federal standards for a school bus.)

  • avatar
    rob

    Several people have mentioned the Ford Econoline as being a better choice in this segment. I do not have any experience with the reviewed vehicle, but I have owned and driven the Econolines for several years. So without further ado …

    Rob’s Ford Econoline(s) Review …

    My first vehicle was a used 1985 Ford E-150 Conversion. Purchased it for ~$500 plus raking some leaves in 2003. Straight six, ~148″ WB, low miles (~70,000) captains chairs. Quite nice, except that the van had sat a while in NE air and the engine apparently suffered. I never really did find out what was wrong with the engine, but it was slow (the transmission would downshift to 3rd to try to maintain 80 mph) and it sucked down gas. Milage … let’s just say i was envious of 30′ RV’s. My best tank was ~8 mpg (with very conservative driving) and worst was near 6mpg … from the 4.9l I-6. The ride was ok, the brakes were OMG scary, and the handling was … fantastic! I’m talking drifting in sweeping turns, predictable (and extreme) body lean, slow yet communicative steering (for a boat). Tight turns yielded understeer, but in wider and faster turns, true drifting! I gained a rather poor reputation among friends and their parents for my driving. I loved hearing screams from passengers, the roaring engine, 4 screeching tires … ahhh. Too bad about the mileage – I sold that beast after only six months.

    In 1993-94, my family bought the “new” Econoline with the 302 V8. My father still has the van. It gets decent mileage for it’s size (14-18), tows a bunch (~6300 lbs), and has the space that a family of six needed for road trips. Compared to the 1985 model that I had, this van has a nicer dash/interior (marginally), is quiter, faster, and has slightly better brakes. Unfortunately, I feel that the handling is worse. I’ve never had the desire/balls to drift it – it just doesnt feel as nimble as the older van (as nimble as a ~20’x7’x7′ box on wheels can feel). During it’s 15+ years of service, the van has needed a number of expensive repairs (tranny, countless alignments, rear AC tubes, 2 catback exhaust replacements, steering rack, etc), but is still quiet at reasonable speeds, comfortable riding, and uber capable (interior space, towing).

    During undergrad, my school used E-350 econolines for transportation. These were well hooned vehicles! During my early years, the school had older 15 passenger versions with ~90,000 miles. Their brakes, suspension, and steering were as loose as … nevermind. Compared to the ’84 and ’94 vans in our family, my school’s early 2000 vans were noisy, tipsy, and generally crap. They rode roughly, yet could not handle for shit. They had upgraded brakes compared to my fams whips, but stopped poorly. In 2005, my school took delivery of brand new short wheelbase (148″) E-350 Econolines. The interiors (especially the dash) were worse than their earlier versions, but as new, they handled much better than the older and longer E-350’s. As you can imagine, they were not treated nicely … I had the privilege of testing the 0-60 time (~13 secs if i recall correctly), top speed (96 mph, closed course), ABS, and general handling abilities of one of the vans when it had some 20 miles on the odom. After 5,000 miles, the vans were looser than the 150’s in my family. Sure, the breaks were better than the 20 year older version i owned, but after 5,000 [admittedly brutal] miles, the suspension sucked, steering sucked – amazing that 20 years of “progress” yielded … nothing.

    Final note: the interior comfort and safety were designed for masochists! Why ford can’t get the seating position right in such a large vehicle is amazing. Up front, the captain’s chairs were cumfy enough, but the footwells are narrow, and the brake pedal position is too high off the floor, making braking uncomfortable and unsafe. As for rear comfort … headrests? Nope. Reclined seating? Nope. Sufficient legroom? Nope. WTF! You look DOWN on full size SUV’s, have more interior volume than a large US house, and yet they still lack comfort!

  • avatar

    @ Geotpf,

    You are absolutely right. The Wellman-Union School District in West Texas (where my mom instructs all the kids on the benefits of science), sold all their E-Series vans under mandate from the state of Texas, and bought a fleet of Ford Excursions. Mom reports they are safer to drive, but are no more joyous, considering she’s only 5’0″, and can’t reach the pedals without risking eating an airbag.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    These vans are holdovers from that period of time where the gov’t hadn’t fired up it’s safety machinery (i.e. mandating all kinds of safety items in a given vehicle) and the intended uses of the vehicles were pretty obvious. It’s plain to see that time has passed these vehicles and except for a few situations, their relevance is quickly passing.

    I know a couple who have 10 children (that’s their business, not mine) and use an Express for their daily driver. It can easily accomodate any combination of riders and their cargo. With governmental mandates being what they are concerning car seats and the like, they would still have to have two Sequoias to fit all of the people when all of them are going somewhere. As they have reminded me, the only outings they attend ARE family outings, so the Express is rarely empty when moving.

    At one time I worked for a delivery company driving the then-current cargo van version of these (and others) in all kinds of weather all over Northeast Ohio, so I have a fair amount of respect for their capabilities and their foibles. (My fave was the Dodge Supervan with 360 V8) Just like you wouldn’t use a Suzuki Samarai for autocross, you wouldn’t try any funky manuevers on cloverleafs with these vans, either.

    Granted they may not have the best build quality, but what you’re purchasing here is the most people moving ability for a given size of vehicle, without buying something that’s yellow with flashing lights. I personally think there should be some sort of requirement for the safety of the rearmost passengers in these kinds of vans, but we drove around for many years with rear facing station wagons, and no one saw fit to enact legislation.

    I think these things are few and far in-between, at least in the civilian world, and with gas prices continuing to increase, along with ‘minivan’ sizes, I can see where the retail versions will diminish in sales volume. As much as I fondly (?) remember my time with the vans, I won’t be too upset if they disappear from the roads. The Sprinter van is MUCH better and deserves to replace the existing North American passenger vans.

    What my friend with all of the children will do is a different story. But I’ve already told him about the Sprinter, when the Express is ready for replacement.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    This is a good microcosm of how the Big 3 screwed it up at the dawn of the Rising Sun back in the Seventies: no competition but each other.

    The domestics know they have a captive market with good ol’ Uncle Scam buying the iron, no way would the Congress (especially a Democratic, union boot-licking Congress) kick out a big fleet contract to the imports, any imports. Look at the stink from the Airbus deal, that might not even go through because of the political backlash. This despite the fact Boeing had already screwed that contract up as a sure thing with criminal conduct in their contracts office and offer a plane (modded ’67) that won’t carry as much gas, won’t carry as much cargo, won’t carry these reduced logistics as far, and would enter service two years later than the better Airbus plane. All those shortcomings at a slightly higher price. Even after all that, everyone is still screaming about “American jobs” and the like.

    Frankly, as a guy who spent his stint turning wrenches on lawn darts the government isn’t very rational to begin with in purchasing anything it seems. One thing I’ve always wondered about are mail trucks. Anyone ever noticed they’re made by Grumman, maker of F-14’s and now part of Northrop Grumman? Hell, the things are riveted together like an airplane! How you get an airplane maker a contract to make a basic service delivery van you could’ve just bought is proof of how the government works (or doesn’t) when it comes to purchasing capital goods. Next thing you know, Buick will be making helicopters for the Forest Service, and no one else.

  • avatar
    wmba

    These 15 passenger vehicles, whether Fords, Chevs, Jimmies or Dodges are not legal for road use in Canada due to poor handling characteristics.

    Point was driven home a winter or two back when a van from Maine brought up some hockey players for a game, and crashed with fatalities.

    I see above that Texas feels the same way. Damn right. They are even worse than can be imagined with 15 people in them wondering if this is their last day on earth.

    And you thought Detroit cared? Not even one tiny teensy little bit. Obviously.

  • avatar
    sashazur

    There’s a simple reason why this van sucks: the people who buy it are not the people who drive it, and the buyers only care about the price and the capacity. There’s no incentive for the manufacturer to put in even one nickel’s worth more value or quality into the thing.

  • avatar
    CT Guy

    In regard to the comment about the mail trucks(LLV’s). The way I understand it is Grumman got the contract when the Navy cancelled the F-14. When the Post Office cancelled the contract for new ones,Grumman destroyed the tooling and the PO took the Grumman logo off the trucks. True ,they are riveted together but I have to admit, they can take a hit. I was rear-ended in one by a roofing truck going 60 mph-threw the LLV 53 feet and flipped the LLV upside down. The shoulder harness saved my life.Oh,by the way-they get about 8 MPG-this from a Chevy S-10 4 cylinder w/automatic,never going over 45 mph..
    Ah .driving a Chevy van around Nellis-they are top heavy. I was working at the end of runway arming planes one deployment when a F-4 revved his engine as he was turning away from us and pushed the van up on 2 wheels-lifted the right side wheels about 10″ off the ground- typical Air Force excitement in the 80’s.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Seems like this thing would make an excellent hearse. If you’re not already dead, take the van around a turn and you will be soon enough.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    When back when (about a quarter of a century ago) I drove a full-size work Chevy van in San Francisco. Steering was heavy but positive. Van had no frills (no A/C or anything like that), but it was nearly bullet-proof and very reliable. I am surprised that this one appeared so unpleasant. Has GM changed their vans for the worse so much in 25 years?

  • avatar
    limmin

    Those vans are truly dinosaurs. However, there has never been any incentive to update them. Just a box on wheels, no one has ever demanded more.

    On another note, loading that thing with 15 passengers is treacherous. Without dual wheels, I wouldn’t have more than 8-9 people in the thing.

  • avatar

    I rented from U-Haul what must be the equivalent about three years ago, and I have to disagree with this review. That van in fact seemed quite awesome for anything, let alone a van, and I honestly remember thinking, “Wow, I guess GM’s not going to let the Japanese take over the cargo van market without puttin’ up a fight.” Laugh at my comment if you want, but seriously…I was taking off-ramps at speeds I thought only my ’95 Celica GT could handle. I experienced none of the dangerous handling characteristics described in this review. Plus, it sailed on the highway. I drove it about 50 miles up Route 95 (from Boston to NH). At times, I didn’t realize how fast I was going.

  • avatar
    factotum

    Is it just me or do Ford Econolines crab down he highway? I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen one of these and the front and rear tracks don’t follow the same path.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    Let’s get real; this thing is practically a medium duty truck. It’s built to haul bodies or stuff. And with with 3 or people on board its most likely getting better people miles per gallon that your Prius! These are rock solid quasi-commercial duty vehicles built to perform work and move sh!t.

  • avatar
    Patrick

    Brent, the U-Haul vans I see have dual rear wheels and a very light fiberglass and aluminum cargo box.

    The combo would make a drastic difference in handling.

  • avatar

    No, Patrick. This was a regular ol’ van without dualies in the rear. I didn’t have enough stuff to warrant renting anything larger. It looked exactly like this van in this review, but with U-Haul logos and designs on the sides.

  • avatar

    It was also a gas engine — definitely some variant of GM’s V8s.

  • avatar
    nino

    Come on, this is a WORK truck.

    The idea behind this thing is to produce it as cheaply as possible so they can sell it as cheaply as possible.

    You can buy a new Chevy Express van for around $17,500. The Sprinter, while a much better van, starts at about $32,000.

    The things that bother you about this van, can be easily taken care of once you bought it and have money to spend on it.

  • avatar

    Thank you for a great review! This, and the KIA one are the only ones I’ve read in a while. The Fiat is next. Cayenne, Flex, Matrix? Meh – give me really crappy cars or give me… nevermind :)

  • avatar
    davey49

    Can’t say I have any experience with these larger vans. Seems like a lot of people here do. I have heard that fleet managers and drivers prefer the E-series due to its chassis dynamics and driving qualities along with longevity.
    I do think the Express is one of the best looking vehicles on the road however. Smooth and functional without the weird bulges and angles put on for “styling” reasons like you see on cars.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i drive one of these for work occasionally, you are spot on. I am terrified of this thing. Perhaps I don’t have alot of experience with vehicles like this, but its really a mess to drive, and dangerous. Ours seems to be plenty fast, maybe it has a different engine, and it does have a power drivers seat and a tilt steering wheel. I am suprised that yours was even worse than mine. I can hardly beleive it could be worse.

    I drive it at or below the speed limit – if you hit a bump at any speed over about 5 mph, even when fully loaded, the entire rear end becomes airborne – they should install four point racing harnesses instead of the seat belts.

    I am afraid of this thing, and dread driving it.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Skooter :
    June 18th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Sprinter design is unibody. Can’t handle loads like a full frame vehicle.

    I wonder what the big black full length and width steel thing under my Sprinter is that the body, axles, engine and other bits are bolted too?

    It looks to be about the same size as the big black full length and width steel thing under my diesel E350 Ford work van.

    Is that the unibody????????????

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I had the displeasure of renting a long wheelbase version of the Chevy Express to ferry equipment between one of our labs and a show we performed for a convention. It may be a work truck, but that is no excuse for this shit-box. At best this is the Chevy Aveo of full-sized vans.

    High speed maneuvering is a gingerly affair. The number of rear wheels is too few and the suspension is inadequate for this size truck. Also, the frame and body structure isn’t very rigid on this body-on-frame shit box.

    Thankfully, we had our load properly secured, not stacked very high and the heavy stuff towards the center. The bouncy and undulating suspension did not inspire confidence on the freeway.

    A safe freeway speed is 55 mph. Above 65 mph it doesn’t take much steering wheel effort to screw up in this rolly polely beast.

    Furthermore, a load ten to twelve people in the passenger version of this pig will raise the already high center of mass considerably.

    Conclusion, I’ll gladly drive the cab on chassis Class C version with the rear duallies, higher load rated tires and a proper cargo box with a rear roller door, but standard long-wheelbase Express is off my list.

  • avatar

    Thought this review was kinda mean.

    I mean, it’s a van, not a Cadillac. What’s the point of having quality interior plastics if you’re gonna thrash the vehicle anyways? Any time I’ve been in a van, it’s for a mission trip and we’re loading it up with stuff, carrying sweaty college kids, and tracking mud in and out of the vehicle. We don’t care how quality the vehicle is…heck, we were satisfied with an Uplander!

    Most people use vans for a purpose: Haul lots of people or haul lots of stuff. Most people who fall into these groups are looking for a cheap ride, and this is that. Chevy gets a decent profit margin and gets to sell a cheap van. Resale? Pfft. You use it till it dies.

    I appreciate the review of a different type of vehicle, but I don’t think the same standards can be applied. It’s like comparing a Civic to a Quattroporte.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    “High speed maneuvering is a gingerly affair.”

    I have to ask- who in their right mind would attempt high speed maneuvers in a 6,600 lb. extended van?

  • avatar
    Skooter

    Is that the unibody????????????

    Yes, it is a steel unibody design. It’s main advantage is that it is light weight. Which is also its disadvantage in heavier applications. In cab and chassis configuration the Sprinter can achieve maximum GVW of 11,030 lbs. This opposed to 12,300 lbs (and even more in 2009) with GM’s Savana/Express Cutaways. Not to mention the GM duo is powered by 323 horsepower gas or the vaunted Duramax (250 horsepower) diesel while Dodge features anemic performance. And Sprinter is a lot more $$$…

  • avatar

    @ Brendino,

    I realize how nice materials (i.e. Audi) would not hold up in a work truck, or passenger hauler. However, after having driven most of these types, the Express by far is the worst. The Sprinter and Nissan Urvan/Caravan use similar high durability plastics, but are fit together with much greater precision, and are actually more durable due to the greater build quality. The Expresses are already coming apart at the seams at 10K miles or less. Thats bad.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Poor van got bombarded with negativity.

    It is only a van folks don’t be to hard on it.
    It was made to haul different stuff It doesn’t need Recaro Seats and leather interior on this van or a 650 rockfort fosgate car stereo.

    if the car door hit the body or the other door.
    do you think CHEVY DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT IT? yes they do and they don’t care because it is only a VAN.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    “It is only a ****** so who cares about the quality?”

    “Folks will only use it for ulitity so who cares if it is poorly built?”

    This line of thinking applied to other porudcts is WHY GM is going broke today!

  • avatar

    @ whatdoiknow,

    Amen brother!

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    I had to drive thousands of miles around the wavy eastern plains of Colorado one summer hauling volunteers. Let me tell you, there is one good thing about it: it makes you concentrate so hard on driving, you never get sleepy. That and the AC was ice cold.

    The only emergency maneuver you should make is hitting the brakes. Hard. If you try to swerve, you’ll kill everyone in it. I’m serious, if you have to drive this at highway speeds, keep huge distances and look way ahead of you.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Some more to read on these death traps:

    http://www.collinsaav.com/pdf_files/dangers.pdf

    http://www.burnsbusstop.com/pdf_files/alternatives.pdf

    “Fifteen-passenger vans are more likely to be involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash than any other type of vehicle.”

    http://level2.cap.gov/documents/Sentinel_2006_03.pdf

    http://www.stnonline.com/stn/nonconformingvans/court/strebler_case.htm

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    I think the point that many of you foks are missing is that I am sure Toyota, and Nissan are studying these full sized vans and creating game plans to see if they can get into this game and make a profit. IF the market and profit is there they WILL enter the market and FIX all of the crap that is wrong with this thing, create a new full sized van that is full of quality were you guys never expected it but will now accept it and demand it! The joke is they will sell their products at a competitive price cut out a nice hunk of marketshare for themselves at the expense of GM and Ford.

    We have seen it before with cars. We are currently watching the assualt on the pick-up market so do not think for a minute that they wont jump into this segment if it is worth it.

    THESE ARE THE SIMPLEST OF AUTOMOTIVE PRODUCTS IF GM CAN’T (OR REFUSES) TO GET THESE RIGHT THAN WHAT IS THE POINT OF GM!

    Toyota is successful because they understand that the quality of the lowest product IS directly related to the quality of the most expensive products they sell.

  • avatar
    truthbetold37

    Nissan wants to get into the commercial van business. Look what their competition is! Shouldn’t be too hard to steal market share in this arena.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Skooter :
    June 19th, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Is that the unibody????????????

    Yes, it is a steel unibody design. It’s main advantage is that it is light weight. Which is also its disadvantage in heavier applications.

    Soryy but the Sprinter is body on frame, just like the Ford or Chevy.

    http://www.dodge.com/shared/2008/ram_trucks/durability/images/lowb/lb_dur_ladder_frame.jpg

  • avatar
    BEAT

    WhatdoIknow1;

    Doubly Amen to that. Actually there Van in Asia that are built by Japanese Car manufacture.

    And one of them is Mitsubishi Delica(I know Mitsu again)the Toyota Hi-Ace and Nissan Caravan.

    The Dodge A100 was perfect but goner.
    By the way Military personel used this van if it’s POS

    Why is it still in the market and why is it that the NTSB or any other federal agecny on safety still allow it to be manufactured?

    if you are complaining about the quality why is it still being built. I feel like the consumer is being mislead again because tremendous outage on a Van that is A VAN.

    next time please used your Mazda or BMW to haul your stuff?

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    I love this site. Where else could you possibly get a review like this? :)

    I’m also loving the comments of people who obviously skimmed the first paragraph and skipped to the comment section, saying “It’s a WORK VAN, the standards are much lower.” You’re missing the point – this van has failed terribly to meet even those low standards. Even the Aveo’s seats will last you at least 50,000 miles. Yeesh.

    I guess I’ll wait for the TundraVan to come out (or the 15-passenger Rondo, at this rate), and if I ever need to move 15 people in comfort and safety I’ll just get two more xB’s.

  • avatar

    Good luck to the Japanese manufacturers trying to make HD vans for the US market if their share of the full-sized pickup markets are any indication. Nissan just gave up on the Titan (Dodge will build them after 2010!?) and Toyotas are selling horribly.

    I was hopeful that the Sprinter would whip GM and Ford vans into shape, but it’s far too expensive to compete in heavy duty applications. Blame the “Bush dollar” and the price of diesel?

    The van reviewed is the ultimate fleet flogger typically driven by people not used to vans. Judging an entire manufacturer by its fleet sacrifices isn’t really fair. It’s like judging all Mercedes based on an experience driving a Freightliner Columbia or a horrid A-class.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Skooter- sometimes a high speed maneuver just happens. Swerving to avoid a car or animal or such like that.
    OldandSlow- Best idea about using the commercial chassis. I think a lot of these groups who use these 12-15 passenger vans should be buying small buses that use the dual wheel chassis cab or even the 4500 Topkick/Kodiak chassis.
    Any chance of TTAC reviewing the short wheelbase 1500 vans?

  • avatar
    Rizo

    Re highway driving: It gets scarier

    “the van was designed for 10 people, but the regular seats had been removed and replaced with wooden benches.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/03/07/bc-van-crash.html

  • avatar
    nino

    You guys that are saying that this van is of low quality, are using the wrong reference. What’s important with regards to a van is; is the motor/transmission reliable, easy to work on if something goes wrong, and economical enough for the power produced? Also, does the van allow you to haul what it is you need to haul without the suspension bottoming? Can I get this all at a price I can afford (read CHEAP)? That’s pretty much it.

    The hard plastic interior panels with the big gaps are not really a big concern. I also replace the seat in my van with a comfortable racing seat.

    I really don’t see what else would be necessary in a work truck.

  • avatar

    @ nino,

    Its not reliable, and its not easy to work on. And the interior is of such low quality that it falls apart quite easily, not something I expect out of any work vehicle. See the Nissan Urvan review for a showcase on a work vehicle done right. And these vans are not cheap, this one clocked in at $43000, thats ridiculous.

  • avatar
    nino

    And if the Sprinter sold for as little as the Chevy, I’d be in one in a second.

    But as long as I can buy TWO Chevys for the price of one Sprinter……

  • avatar
    nino

    Mike,

    I have a 2001 GMC Savanna 2500 with the 5.7 liter V8.

    I haven’t had any problems with it whatsoever. I do my own maintenance on the vehicle including tune-ups.

    As far as the interior goes, everything that came with the van is still attached with the exception of the inside rear view mirror that was installed wrong by the glass guy (OK, I had a windshield replaced) and fell off.

    The van has 174,000 miles on it and I bought it new for $15,000.

    Why yours is $43,000 I don’t know.

  • avatar
    nino

    Mike,

    I just read the review, but I would like to point out just a few differences between that van and the Chevy:

    What is the weight capacity? I’d venture to say that the Chevy’s weight load limit is higher.

    What about towing a trailer?

    Also judging by the pictures, the Chevy looks to have a much larger cargo area that does the Nissan.

    With my van, I use it to haul all kinds of construction materials besides my tools. It frequently has over 1,500LBS of weight inside it. I also tow three different types of trailers with it exceeding 4,000LBS towed.

    Still, I’d welcome Nissan, Toyota, anybody to come in and make work vans for the US market.

    The more the merrier.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Ebay has a lot of interesting versions of the Express/Savanna. It’s definitely worth a look.

    I can pretty much sum up the Express in three sentences.

    1) The powertrains are virtually bulletproof.

    2) The interior is cheap and about 10 years out of date.

    3) You should buy it only if the price is right and you’re willing to drive it into the ground.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I get about $34K MSRP for a 15 passenger Express at that’s with the LT trim a trailer hitch, oil cooler and a CD/MP3 player.
    $35K for an E-350 XLT
    $45K for a low roof 12 passenger Sprinter w diesel and rear AC

  • avatar
    N85523

    Spell check, second to last paragraph, last line.

    “…better off walking that driving this rolling death trap.

  • avatar

    N85523 :

    Spell check, second to last paragraph, last line.

    “…better off walking that driving this rolling death trap.

    Doh! Text amended.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    As vans go, the Econoline has it going on. I’ve never had an Express, but I’ve had one Dodge, and 4 Econolines. The difference between Japanese and American cars is that the American cars are not evolved from earlier versions, they are simply created over and over. Not so with the Econoline. It is constantly improved in increments large and small, as is the F-150. All cars should be designed this way.

  • avatar
    fli317

    We own a 2000 express with a 5.0 liter motor. That was a funny review. Ours is a conversion van that I use to haul my family including three kids. It has a great amount of luxurious space for all their gear. And with that it averages 17 mpg city and 19-20 highway. It has a pretty tall gear set, so it is no sports car. But, with my kids in the car, my racing days are and should be well over. It handles like a truck and has to be driven like a big vehicle. But again, I don’t want to be sport driving with my kids in the car. We looked at minivans, crossovers and even large SUVs (suburbans). None of them gave us the space for the fuel economy that we get. Even minivans that get better mileage really only get 4-5 mpg more on the highway. In city driving I get the same– 17 mpg. Driven economically even these trucks can get respectable gas mileage.

  • avatar

    As someone who literally logs most road miles in a Kenworth T 600 with a condo then gets into an Express van or a low, mid-engine 2 seater for the rest of the week, I can see why people would drive these vans like cars. Most people don’t approach driving different types of vehicles,… differently.

  • avatar
    gm-uawtool

    I realize I'm a littly tardy to this discussion, but allow me to point out some facts regarding the Express, which happens to be the product built at my place of employment. Regarding the dents from the doors, every van comes with "check straps" that stop the doors from swinging all the way open and thus denting the vehicle. They can, however, be unhooked to allow wider access when needed. I suspect that is what happened and they remained that way. Have a look. The black plastic "halo" aroung the taillights isn't meant for aeshetics – although you can get it painted in body color – but is designed to resist dents and scratches from contractors and the like loading ladders, pipes etc. onto their roof racks. And the reviewer climbs in and out of jet aircraft yet struggles to enter the van despite the presence of a handle on the door and the steering wheel for additional assistance? (for the record there is also a handle on the A-pillar on the passenger side) We have dozens of people make the ingress/egress hundreds of times a day and they are presumably less fit than him. And I don't know where the "cloth armrests" are. The accompanying picture clearly shows a vinyl armrest on the seat and I can assure you that we do not have cloth on our door armrests (some aftermarket material perhaps?). And if this van assaults your visual senses, then you'd better not check out a Sprinter. And what's with reviewing a USED VAN? Did you review any Camrys with 30,000 miles that were filled with sludge? It just so happens that the 2008 model got a new instrument panel, seats and interior panels with upgraded materials. Also new is the industry's longest side-curtain airbag and unique safety glass for passenger vans as well as rack-and-pinion steering and new electrical architecture for more features like tire pressure monitoring. As for all the rest of review, it just seems the author is trying way too hard at being witty istead of giving a fair review of the vehicle as it is intended to be used. A fighter pilot feeling like a 15-pass van is underpowered? What a shock!

  • avatar

    @ uawtool,

    Van pictured is not van reviewed, USAF didn’t allow permission to use photos of actual van (since its theirs).

    Just rented a brand new 12-Pax Express…. no check straps either, but it did have a detent… that was broken, and allowed the doors to dent each other…. at 3,500 miles. I still stand by my original assessment of this terrible vehicle.

    The new van did have grab handles, and a CD player (hooray!), the one we had, did not. You could only use the steering wheel to get in, and its not at the best angle to help you in with all your gear on. No A-pillar handle, and the door handles are useless when trying to get in, as the doors move.

  • avatar
    Americancar4US

    Hey it’s a van not a luxury vehicle…..Does it serve it’s purpose for the military?…..Does it do the job?……Then a review is a review.

    I have several friends who drive The Express to make a living as contractors for delivery coopanies. They simply praise the reliability and lost cost of maintance. It’s a money maker for them as it is for the Government.

    Up-date the van to luxury and you will get the same reliability…….Luxury, reliability, comfort and versatility all in one platform…..I praise GM for building the vehicle.

  • avatar

    @ Americancar

    Its not a good van. Its not well designed. It doesn’t do its jobs very well at all. Reliability? Not so much, ask the maintainers at Nellis. They are selling the Chevy fleet for Sprinters. Its a money loser that needs to die.

  • avatar

    I understand the UAW poster’s umbrage at the review of something he’s associated with, but the truth is, these vans are very average at best.

    I drove one for two weeks during a convention in Vegas last year, and let me tell you it was a chore. The lack of driver’s side assist straps IS a real issue! I am 5’8″, 190 lbs, and having to wrench myself into the driver’s seat with the steering wheel every time was not a pleasant experience (though it did apply a slight bit more tone to my right bicep by the time the two weeks were out).

    My other big complaint was that the rearmost passenger seats could not be made to lie flat for cargo loading – shipping boxes had to be either tossed over the battlements of the back seat from the express doors, or laboriously relayed back from the side doors one row at a time.

    And yes, I nearly put a dent in the headliner once from taking a drainage dip 5 MPH over the signed 20 MPH.

    Having said all that, the van did its job and got 15 passengers around Vegas twice every day for 14 days straight with no drama. But it could have been a less agricultural experience.

  • avatar
    danmor

    Get Real, this is a commercial van. Its supposed to be utilitarian. Have you seen the commercial vehicals used in Tokyo. They’re smaller and hence get better mpg, but they arent any better.

  • avatar
    Ron Fife

    If you expect small-car or mini-van styling, performance, and fit & finish from what is essentially a large utility vehicle then you can expect to be disappointed. I’m guessing that a motor-pool vehicle such as this one has also seen plenty of abuse and perhaps not enough maintenance.
    And you have to drive a large vehicle differently than you would a smaller vehicle. A large van simply will not have the acceleration, braking, and turning performance of a smaller vehicle.
    I have put over 200,000 miles on my full-size GMC passenger van safely and comfortably hauling up to 7 passengers and pulling a trailer loaded with half a ton of music equipment.

  • avatar
    1tonvans

    I own the 2006 version of this POS. I have been driving 1 ton stretch vans since 1982, over a million miles,  including lots of mountain miles.  I almost crashed this POS when the ABS went haywire in the mountains and the van was shaking so hard I could barely control it.  The local Chevy dealer told me that the rotors on these big 1 tons warp when they get hot but then unwarp when they are cool.  Riiight.   A few months later, my partner experienced the same thing.  He too thought he would die in the POS. Turns out, this is an ongoing problem with Chevy and their ABS but they will not admit it. After removing the fuse for the ABS, POS is a little safer to drive. 
    A few days ago, at 69k, the tranny went out in POS, 1000 miles from home.  No metal shavings in the pan, but a major component broke, a stress fracture according to the Chevy dealer repairing it.  36k drive train warranty!  Thanks Chevy! I just bought a new transmission!
    The headlights and the mirrors shake on this van, cheap, cheap, cheap!  It makes econoline look like a limo! 
    This 1 ton van is supposed to be a work vehicle, but it  is just a supersized aveo. 
    GM….you should be ashamed.


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  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States