ORLANDO, FL. – General Motors unveiled its ’03-model full-size vans at the National Truck Equipment Assn.’s Work Truck Show in Orlando. The Chevy Express and GMC Savana have undergone their first major redesign in seven years to make them better suited for commercial users.
David Hansen, general manager of GM Fleet & Commercial Operations, said the vans deliver “more power, more doors, more drive wheels, more braking power, and more features that customers need to manage their fleets.”
Among a long list of new features, Hansen pointed in particular to what he called three industry firsts for full-size vans: optional all-wheel-drive, left-hand “60/40” entry/load doors available on regular-length units and unique remote-release side access panels on Express Access and Savana Pro models.
Gasoline engine choices include the all-new lineup of Gen III Vortec V8s, ranging from 275 to 300 hp., as well as a new 200-hp. Vortec V6, which is the base engine on light-duty G-Series vans in all 50 states. According to GM, availability of the 300-hp. Vortec 6000 has made both the Vortec 8100 and 6.5-liter diesel obsolete.
All models come standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, and for the first time GM’s Tow/Haul Mode feature is now available.
New underneath are stiffer box frames for more torsional rigidity. New front and rear suspensions are modified versions of those found on GM’s full-size pickups. Rear suspensions use a solid axle with semi-elliptic, variable-rate two-stage multileaf springs and gas-charged struts. Other improvements include standard 16-in. wheels and more efficient HydroBoost hydraulic four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.
Inside are restyled interiors with upgraded HVAC systems and availability of OnStar service and RDS radio systems. In addition, all models boast a Class II electrical system to allow for battery run-down protection, among other features.
The Express and Savana can be ordered as passenger or cargo vans, or as cutaways. Vans in the 1500 Series are rated at 6,200 and 7,200 lb. GVW while those in the 2500 Series offer GVWs of 7,300, 8,500 and 8,600 lb. The heavy-duty 3500 Series includes vans rated at 9,600 lb. and commercial cutaway chassis with GVWRs from 8,600 to 12,300 lb.