2012 Chevrolet Express


$10,337 - $20,013

2012 Chevrolet Express Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chevrolet Express was new.


Performance: 7.0

Overall, the Chevrolet Express’ performance is on par with the other work vans in its class. Reviewers feel that while its base V6 engine is underpowered, the remaining V8s and the diesel engine provide enough power for most tasks. The auto press thinks that the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a bit more maneuverable. Still, the Express is the only large van that offers all-wheel drive, so if you need a heavy-duty van to haul people or gear, reviewers say it’s a good choice.

  • "No matter what the mission, Chevrolet provides not just the platform, but the hardware to back it up. From its powerful engine lineup to its optional heavy-duty transmission oil cooler, the Express Van is designed to be a hard-working vehicle.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The Chevrolet Express offers a choice between the base V6 engine, three V8 engines and a diesel V8 engine, so you can customize your van to emphasize fuel economy or power, depending on the body style. All 1500 models come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission, while 2500 and 3500 models get a six-speed automatic. The base V6 makes 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

To see which specific models get which engines, and each model’s fuel economy, see the full list of 2012 Chevrolet Express specifications.

In general, reviewers feel that the V6 is fuel-efficient but not powerful enough to handle heavy loads, while the V8 engines are up to most tasks. The auto press especially likes the diesel, which is also used in the Chevrolet Silverado HD. Writers say it’s competent for almost any job.

According to the EPA, the base Cargo 1500 van with a V6 engine gets up to 15/20 mpg city/highway. The Express 1500 with all-wheel drive gets 13/17 mpg, while the Express 3500 with two-wheel drive gets 10/14 mpg. These numbers are dismal, but they’re about average for the class.

  • "All V-8 engines provide satisfying grunt. The strong turbo-diesel would be our choice.” -- Car and Driver
  • "The 6.0-liter V8 provides sufficient power for merging and passing even with a heavy load. The transmission shifts smoothly. No other models have been made available for us to test.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "A wide range of engine choices lets you tailor power to your particular needs, and acceleration with even the smaller V8s is spirited and inspires confidence with or without a heavy load.” -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the Chevrolet Express handles reasonably well for such a large van. Still, it’s unwieldy to maneuver in smalls spaces and not particularly pleasant to drive, so if you can get by with a bit less utility, you’ll be far better off with a minivan or a smaller passenger van like a Ford Transit Connect. The Express 1500 is available with all-wheel drive, a feature that the Ford E-Series doesn’t offer.

  • "On the road, the GM twins ride the best, we think-not as bouncy as the Ford E-van.” -- Road and Track
  • "A big beast, the steering is slow and not terribly accurate.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Like all big vans, these are clumsy to drive, with a wide turning radius, copious cornering lean, and modest grip. Steering is less-overboosted than on previous test vehicles, but still feels numb. All of GM's big vans respond with reasonable confidence in quick maneuvers.” -- Consumer Guide

Towing and Hauling

The Chevrolet Express ties the Ford E-Series for the highest tow ratings in the class, and is able to pull trailers weighing up to 10,000 pounds behind Cargo 3500 models. The base Passenger 1500 vans can tow at least 6,200 pounds. The Express can also haul a maximum payload of 4,187 pounds in Cargo 3500 models and a maximum of 1,722 pounds in Express Passenger 1500 models. To see how much a particular configuration of the Express can tow, see the Chevrolet Express specs.

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