Still for sale after decades in the vehicle lineup, the Chevrolet Express 3500 fills a niche that’s beyond the limit of nearly any other vehicle. What alternative can there be when you need to ferry a dozen or so people, and/or tow 9,700 pounds occasionally? That's why traditional full-size vans, including the GMC Savana and the Ford Transit, endure. Sometimes, a big van is the only choice to handle the tough tow/haul jobs.
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2016 Chevrolet Express 3500 Overview
What's New for 2016
OnStar 4G LTE connectivity is new for 2016, including provision for a wi-fi hotspot in the vehicle. IntelliLink with navigation now is optional. So are single-pane side-view mirrors, a 220-amp generator, and dual isolated battery system. Express vans have six airbags, including seat-mounted thorax protection.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Express 3500
As the heavy-duty Express model, the regular-length 3500 has a payload capacity of 3,461 pounds and can tow up to 9,700 pounds. In terms of sheer capability, the 3500 ranks right up there with many full-size pickups.
The Express 3500 lineup splits into two series: Passenger and Cargo. Offered in two trim levels, the Express Passenger can be configured to seat either eight or twelve people in standard-wheelbase form, and up to fifteen with the extended 155-inch wheelbase. The Cargo van contains only front seats, and also is available on either wheelbase. With both models, you get up to 216 cubic feet of cargo space (with seats removed), or an engulfing 253 cubic feet with the longer wheelbase. With all seats in place, cargo volume of the extended-length model totals 127 cubic feet.
Base Express engine is a gasoline 4.8-liter V8 rated at 285 horsepower. The optional 6-liter V8 provides a substantial increase to 329 horsepower. A 282-horsepower version of the 6-liter runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). Finally, both the Cargo and Passenger models can get the Duramax 6.6-liter turbo-diesel V8, generating 260 horsepower and a brawny 525 pound-feet of torque. All engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Cargo and Passenger models are each offered in four trim levels:
Customizing the Express 3500 is a snap. The extensive option list applies to all configurations. Therefore, even on the basic WT Cargo model, you can draw from a broad array of comforts and conveniences.
For most work environments, the Express Cargo's gasoline V8s are fully capable of getting the job done effectively. The industrial-strength Duramax diesel engine, which adds nearly $12,000 to the sticker, aims at buyers with serious hauling needs. As for Passenger models, the LS works best as a light-duty shuttle, whereas the plusher LT is the choice for family transportation.