For over three decades, buyers adapted the Chevrolet G-Series chassis for a variety of uses: ambulances, small RVs, box trucks, passenger vans and cargo vans. In 1996, Chevy replaced the aging do-it-all van with the more modern Express -- although it was new, it looked like a restyled G-Series van.
The big boy of the Express lineup – the 3500 model – is relatively unchanged for 2013, having only a few extra optional features: a rearview camera, rear parking assist and navigation.
With a focus on versatility, the Express 3500 can be configured as a passenger van or cargo van, and in two wheelbases: 135 inches and 155 inches. The passenger van comes standard with seating for 12 people; buyers can opt for eight- or 15-passenger seating. The cargo van maximizes utility with two seats up front and a large cargo area in the rear.
The Express 3500 features a standard 4.8-liter V8 that cranks out 280 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. If that’s not enough for you, Chevrolet also offers a 6-liter V8 with 324 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque available, as well as a biodiesel-ready 6.6-liter Duramax V8 diesel engine with 260 horsepower and a tow-happy 525 pound-feet of torque.
That these vans are built to haul some serious cargo is made evident by the Express 3500’s max GVWR of 9,900 pounds; maximum conventional towing rating of 10,000 pounds; and 4,394-pound maximum payload rating.
The big van is not without its flaws, however. As customers who need family haulers have turned away from full-size vans, General Motors has whittled the 3500 lineup to a few no-frills trim levels. Sure, you can still get plenty of amenities, but they're now expensive options, rather than part of value-oriented trim level packages.