1997 Chevrolet Express

By November 10, 1999
1997 Chevrolet Express

Fresh aerodynamic bodies, long wheelbases, rugged ladder-type frame construction and big gross weight ratings help distinguish the Chevrolet Van and Express models from the competition.

Walkaround

Chevrolet started with a clean sheet of paper and launched the Chevy Van and Express as totally new models last year. After 25 years of riding on a unit body chassis, the new vans use body-on-frame construction. The rugged full ladder-type frame construction provides a rock-solid foundation that helps isolate passengers and cargo from road vibrations while reducing body roll in corners.

If a box can be called aerodynamic, then the new Chevys are aerodynamic. The new design is particularly eye-catching in the rear three-quarter view. The rear doors are cleverly designed so that when they are open the tail lights, mounted high on the rear corners, are visible to motorists approaching from behind, which enhances safety at night. Hidden hinges allow the rear doors to swing completely out of the way for loading large objects. Side doors can be ordered in either sliding or hinged form.

Interior Features

Inside is a comfortable cabin with dual air bags and a new, highly legible instrument panel with an extra 12-volt accessory plug. Anti-lock brakes are standard and a full-size spare rides underneath, behind the rear axle.

Mechanically the same, the Van is designed to haul cargo, while the Express is set up to carry people. Our Express G3500 Extended model accommodated up to 15 passengers. The Extended Van is capable of handling up to 316.8 cu. ft. of cargo, which is more space than the Ford or Dodge vans offer.

Part of their big capacity comes from long wheelbases. The regular wheelbase of the G1500, G2500 and G3500 models measures 135 inches. The Extended G2500 and G3500 models ride on a wheelbase that is longer than those offered by Ford and Dodge, stretching to 155 inches.

Driving Impressions

Five different engines allow buyers to choose the right combination of power and economy to meet their needs. The $19,687 G1500 Van and $22,885 Express come standard with a 195-hp 4.3-liter V6. A 5.0-liter V8 that produces 220 hp at 4600 rpm and 280 lb.-ft. at 2800 rpm is a $495 option on the G1500. A 5.7-liter V8 that produces 245 hp at 4600 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. at 2800 rpm comes standard on the $20,112 G2500 and $21,492 G3500 and is a $965 option on the G1500. The G3500 also offers a $600 optional 7.4-liter V8 that produces 290 hp at 4000 rpm and 410 lb.-ft. at 3200 rpm, or a $2,860 optional 6.5-liter turbocharged diesel V8 that produces 190 hp at 3400 rpm and 385 lb.-ft. at 3400 rpm.

All models come standard with GM's 4L60-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The fluid pump and clutch plate designs have been refined for 1997 for smoother shifts, reduced slippage and increased efficiency.

Summary

The heavy duty 4L80-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, which can handle up to 440 lb.-ft. of torque, comes standard on Chevy Van and Express models with a GVWR of 8,600 pounds or greater. The heavy duty transmission features a lower first gear for better off-the-line performance with heavy loads. This transmission has been refined for improved shifting out of park, increased efficiency and better lubrication.

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