After 25 years with the Chevrolet G-Series/Sportvan, there were only four competitors in this market. Though the Dodge Ram Van/Wagon and Ford Club Wagon/Econoline have been freshened over the years, the Express and its cargo-version Van (and GMC's Savana) have easily outdone the others with their first redesign ever.
Available in early '96, selling alongside the older model, Express/Van offered 267 cu. ft. of cargo space in regular-length models and 317 cu. ft. in extended versions. Both models boasted dual airbags -- an industry first for full-size vans, and antilock brakes.
A full ladder frame supported a more rigid body and a substantial increase in wheelbase: the standard length now measured 135 in. (up from 125) and the extended version was stretched to 155 in. (from 146). The full-size spare tire was now tucked beneath the tailgate (along with the 31-gal. fuel tank) to free up cargo space. The suspension composed of tried-and-true coil springs, upper and lower A-arms in front and a rear axle. Power came from a host of fuel-efficient, more powerful Vortec V8 engines, a revamped V6 and, for the first time, a turbocharged 6.5-liter diesel V8. Standard transmission for the Express/Van was a light- or heavy-duty 4-speed automatic.
Front wheel wells pushed far forward and a recontoured engine cover allow more legroom. The new cargo doors swing 180 degrees to open real wide, and they're hung with space-saving hidden hinges that won't rust as easily. Express can accommodate as many as 15 passengers and, when properly equipped, tow as much as 10,000 pounds.
A new cargo van was introduced in the 1999 model year, joining the passenger van.
As of July 27, 1997:
- $22,270 (1997 Chevrolet Express 1500 SWB 3DR Van)
- $24,796 (1997 Chevrolet Express 2500 SWB 3DR Van)
- $25,696 (1997 Chevrolet Express 2500 LWB 3DR Van)
- $24,956 (1997 Chevrolet Express 3500 SWB 3DR Van)
- $25,856 (1997 Chevrolet Express 3500 LWB 3DR Van)
- $615 (1997)