Ancient Model Gains New Engine

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ancient model gains new engine

Kurt Cobain had only been dead a year when General Motors launched the Chevrolet Express family of commercial and passenger vans. Two and a half decades later, the Express is still in its first generation, with the model’s sole facelift now 17 years distant.

Despite facing ever stiffer competition from the likes of Ford, the Express and its GMC twin, the Savana, remain an important product for GM, with the Express selling over 77,000 units in 2019. It’s far less refined than the Ford Transit, but it’s tough. GM ditched the half-ton chassis after 2015, focusing on three-quarter and 1-ton variants ever since.

The model, paid off by the time Y2K became a concern, isn’t being completely taken for granted by its parent. For 2021, the Express family sees moar power.

Announced late Tuesday, the Express line gains an uplevel 6.6-liter gasoline V8 for the coming model year, replacing the old Vortec 6.0-liter V8 and its gaseous fuel sibling. The engine comes by way of the Silverado HD, which gained both a new generation and gas engine for MY2020.

GM’s 6.0L offered 341 horsepower and 373 lb-ft of torque for buyers who weren’t interested in settling for the base 4.3-liter V6. The new engine sees available power rise to 401 hp and 464 lb-ft in the Express line, a significant boost, with 350 hp/425 lb-ft on offer in the Low Cab Forward commercial truck.

While GM doesn’t specify, it looks like the pre-existing six-speed automatic carries over, just as it did in the new Silverado HD. Express models equipped with either the 4.3L V6 or Duramax 2.8-liter diesel carry an eight-speed. GM makes no mention of the Savana.

“Approximately 70 percent of current Express owners opted for the 6.0L V8 option, and Chevrolet expects this new engine to garner the same or increased take rate,” the automaker stated.

The newly muscular 2021 Express should reach customers in late summer.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Mar 04, 2020

    It amazes me that they still sell any of these, even "brutally cheap," when the Ford Transit exists. Just a vastly superior vehicle in every way except possibly this new engine.

    • See 5 previous
    • Scott25 Scott25 on Mar 04, 2020

      @jack4x They’re almost never buying new ones, but the Express and Econolines are sacred amongst touring bands, and that requires a trailer since the van is full of people.

  • Zach Zach on Mar 05, 2020

    I drive a couple of these for work (2017 Savannahs) , a couple of 2016 Ram Promaster 2500s, and a 2019 Ford Transit 250. The GMC is definitely the dinosaur, I honestly thought it was model year 2010 . The RAM actually has the best packaging and MPG, it simply fits more, is easier to drive, much more nimble and gets the same or better MPG than the Chevy and Ford. Back to the GM, Good drivetrain horrible everything else, by 30k miles the door hinges are all sloppy, broken seat frames, and numerous electrical problems.

    • See 1 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Mar 06, 2020

      The Ram is a real pleasure to drive, though I hear its reliability record is not-a so hot. The Ford apparently gives you the same Euro-van driving experience but without the FWD maintenance costs (yay) or the amusing Peterbilt seating position (boo), but I haven't had the opportunity to drive one.