by Chris Wall
Not all vehicles are for daily driving, recreation and fun, there are fleets out there that require transport that's been tailored mainly for business use. One van that's popular in this category is the Chevrolet Express Cargo, which as the names suggests, is useful for transporting goods and machinery that you don't want exposed to the elements or prying eyes. The Express Cargo offers great space with a maximum payload of as much as 4,311 lbs. if you take the top trim; a powerful 6.0-liter V8 engine and some modern motoring conveniences with pricing that will appeal to both small and large businesses.
Inside is sparse-looking as you'd expect, but depending on the options chosen the rear load section can be had with different fittings suited to different kinds of businesses. There's fitting suited to contractors, electricians and plumbers, or you can have it bare to outfit yourself. There's 124 inches from the rear doors to the front seats, and that rises to 146.2 inches if you opt for the extended wheelbase version – you can fit a lot of anything in there. The front seats are comfortable enough, more utilitarian than anything else, and they face an uninteresting dashboard that can at least be optioned with a 7-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment. Some storage options are also available to further tailor front seating to the industry the van will service. If you need cargo with a pulse in human form you can option the Chevrolet Express Cargo with a Crew Van Package that provides seating
With a van that has a name like the Chevrolet Express Cargo, you know you're not expecting exciting performance, although all three of the available engine options are no slouches, the diesel offers the most torque and best fuel economy. Steering does its job; its assistance makes light work of parking work with or without a payload on board. Braking in the van is good and the system also receives assistance from the engine if needed, like when the rear is full of stock and a trailer is in tow. The handling is good. The rear can feel a little unsettled when driving over corrugations if there's no load in the rear thanks to suspension that's stiffer to accommodate heavier weights. The van is well insulated and there's minimal road noise, even in the diesel variant. Unlike previous models the available all-wheel drive is no longer available, but each engine sees fitment of a good automatic transmission.
The performance offered up by the Chevrolet Express Cargo differs as you look across the trims. The base trim gets the standard 4.3-liter V6 with 276 hp and 298 lb-ft of torque but options can see the same trim fitted with the 6.0-liter V8 Vortec engine that makes a much higher 341 hp with a decent 373 lb-ft of torque. This one can be ordered with CNG / LPG capability. You can have this one with a 6-speed automatic with tap up/tap down shift control. The last engine option is the turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel with the smallest capacity at 2.8-liters, but this one is rated to produce 181 hp with a strong 369 lb-ft of torque.
Even with the Chevrolet Express Cargo being a workhorse, it's still available with enough tech to make it a comfortable place to be day in and day out. You can connect to the infotainment via a USB port or by Bluetooth and if you chose the right options you can have it with a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection so you can run a business on location. To help, you can also use Commercial Link, a vehicle management system via the OnStar service. Safety inside the rigid shell features systems like rear park assist, side blind alert zone and the Stabilitrak electronic stability control program.
The full size van is rare these days with Chevrolet being among only a few automakers still making them. The Chevrolet Express Cargo is a built-tough workhorse that can be kitted out in various configurations to tailor it to specific business needs. Three engine options, two wheel base lengths and a variety of available fittings mean there's a van for just about every conceivable business or industry need. With so few on the market the pricing is similar to the others, as are many other features, making the choice come down to brand loyalty and possible trade-in or assistance deals to sway buyers.