2011 Chevrolet Express Review
This review was written when the 2011 Chevrolet Express was new.
The 2011 Chevrolet Express is a willing workhorse that works best when it’s getting down to business. "For hauling lots of people, lots of cargo or a combination of the two, the 2011 Chevrolet Express is a terrific solution,” writes Edmunds.
Reviewers say shoppers looking for a van that will get the job done should take a close look at the 2011 Chevrolet Express. Its five engine choices, 10,000-pound maximum towing capacity, cavernous cargo space and seating for up to 15 make it an ideal work van for those unconcerned with interior luxury. Although no van in this class boasts a swanky, modern interior, the Express’ is one of the most outdated in the bunch. However, if you want an all-wheel drive van, it’s the only option.
The Chevrolet Express is offered in a range of wheelbases and seating configurations, so depending on your needs, you can outfit it like a school bus or a rolling workshop. You can opt for Cargo Van trims with only two seats and lots of space for your stuff, or Passenger Van trims with seating for up to 15. Between these two formats, two different wheelbases, the choice between rear- and all-wheel drive and five engine options, most shoppers will be able to find a Chevrolet Express that fits their needs.
It’s important to remember that the Chevrolet Express is really only an appropriate family vehicle if you have to seat more than eight people on a regular basis. It has a Spartan interior, and you’ll pay extra for even the most basic features. For instance, rear air conditioning will add $860 to your price tag, rear heating will cost you $295 and the standard seats are offered with vinyl upholstery. If you can get by with your minivan or SUV most of the time, you’ll spend less and be far more comfortable renting a full-size passenger van like the Express for the few times a year you need it.
Other Vans to Consider
The Chevrolet Express’ most direct competitor is the Ford E-Series, another boxy work van. The E-Series doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, but offers more high-tech options that are handy at the work site. Ford’s Work Solutions system, an option on all E-Series models, can include an optional fleet management system, tool tracker, Wi-Fi hotspot and an invoice printer. The base Ford E-150 Van starts at about $26,300, while the base Chevrolet Express Cargo Van WT starts slightly less than $25,000. Most of these extra dollars go toward the E-Series’ standard 225-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 engine. In contrast, the Chevy’s base engine is a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 195 horsepower.
If you’re looking for a vehicle with lots of utility but isn’t a shoebox on wheels, you should check out the Ford Transit Connect. With about the same footprint as a last-generation Ford Focus, it’s far smaller than either the Ford E-Series or the Chevrolet Express, but its petite frame means it handles more like a car than the Express and is better suited for city and suburban streets. Plus, the Transit Connect comes with the same technology options as the Ford E-Series, and fleet buyers can opt for a powertrain fueled by compressed natural gas or for the Transit Connect Electric. The gas-powered Transit Connect only offers seating for five and up to 129.6 cubic feet of cargo space in Wagon models, compared with the Express’ 15-seat maximum and whopping 284.4 cubic feet in Cargo 3500 Extended models. However, if you’re looking for a work vehicle that’s smaller, more maneuverable and less expensive than the Chevrolet Express by about $3,700, Ford’s littlest utility van is certainly worth a look.
Details: Chevrolet Express
The Chevrolet Express hasn’t been significantly redesigned since 2003, but the van receives some much-needed updates for the 2011 model year. Chevrolet has decided to expand its engine options, adding its 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 to the most expensive 3500 trim and making the 4.8-liter gas-powered V8 standard on Passenger 2500 models. All General Motors vehicles, including the Chevrolet Express, get an OnStar upgrade for 2011. Satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and a heavy-duty locking differential are now options.
The Express is available in a variety of trims, body styles and wheelbases, so you can pick the van that most closely fits your needs. Unless you’re hankering for that new diesel engine, you might do better to buy a used Express to save money. Since 2011 models are so similar to earlier models, you can let the original owner take the initial depreciation hit and pick up a van for significantly less than its original MSRP. Despite its high price and bare-bones base model, reviewers agree that if you need a new work van, the Chevrolet Express is definitely worth a look.
- “A choice of four powerful V8 engines, varied towing capabilities and optional all-wheel drive makes the Express Van perfect for business and family use.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "GM’s full-size vans have long toiled in the shadow of Ford’s E-series, but a broad range of powertrain choices and equip-to-suit cargo accessories keep them in the hunt.” -- Car and Driver
- "Like other large vans, Express and similar GMC Savana have all the room most users will ever need, though sheer bulk makes them thirsty with fuel, a handful in traffic, and too big for some garages. The available all-wheel drive, 60/40 split driver-side doors, and side access panels are useful features."-- Consumer Guide