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2009 Chevrolet Express ReviewThe Good
The 2009 Chevrolet Express presents an impressive list of both engines and options, allowing you to customize a van to your exact needs and specifications.The Bad
Given the niche that the '09 Express fills in the market, it’s hard to criticize it too harshly, but we can say this - it ain’t pretty.
The CarGurus View
Highly versatile, extremely functional, and endlessly flexible, the 2009 Chevrolet Express is one of the best options out there for a passenger van. Go through the options list, choose what you want, and walk away with exactly what you need. Happy hauling!
At a Glance
Chevrolet’s carryover entry in the full-size passenger-van segment, the Express is available in ten trims with three engines, and either rear- or all-wheel drive. Half-ton 1500 versions come in the standard 135-inch wheelbase, while three-quarter and full-ton 2500 and 3500 versions are available in the extended 155-inch wheelbase and carry up to fifteen people, as opposed to a twelve-passenger capacity for the standard.
With a 31-gallon fuel tank, the Express can go almost 550 miles between stops, depending on configuration - perfect for the long haul. Dual rear swinging cargo doors and the choice of either sliding or 60/40 doors on the passenger side make for easy entry and exit, and regular-wheelbase trims have the option of additional 60/40 doors on the driver’s side as well. Rear bench seats can be removed for customization.
A wealth of optional equipment is available to customize this passenger van to your needs, including air-conditioning, remote-release access panels to replace side windows, a CD player, powered and heated mirrors with turn signals, a limited-slip differential, a fuel-operated auxiliary heater, and a heavy-duty alternator.
RWD 1500s are powered by a 264-hp, 3.6-liter V6, while AWD versions get a 301-hp, 5.3-liter V8. 2500s and 3500s additionally have the option of a 6.0-liter, 319-hp V8, with all engines excepting the V6 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission that has a Tow/Haul mode. The V6 instead gets a six-speed automatic and is rated at 16/24 mpg. The 5.3-liter is E85 friendly and has an EPA mileage rating of 13/16. No estimates have yet been released for the 6.0-liter engine. Additionally, the 1500 is available in AWD configuration, which doesn’t negatively affect its mileage ratings.
All engines have air-filter and oil-life monitors, and the 6.0-liter V8 also has the option of a fast-idle mode that allows the running of many of the optional accessories while idling.
Ride & Handling
With Chevrolet’s StabiliTrak, and a full-time transfer case employed for the four-wheel-drive system, the Express Passenger offers a smoother ride than most full-size vans. Still, don’t expect a luxury-car ride. These vans can haul up to 10,000 pounds and will have a bit of bite, but drivers notice a distinct lack of rigidity over harsh pavement and relatively little float when cornering. When compared to its competitors, the Express ranks near the top of its class.
Cabin & Comfort
Function, function, function. Chevrolet wasted no time or money making the interior of the Express look pretty, so don’t expect much. 2008 saw a slight visual upgrade to a more modern steering wheel and upholstery, but it’s still not fine art. Hard plastics are the dominant feature, however well put together they may be.
The instrument cluster houses a driver information center with pertinent information about vehicle diagnostics and warnings. Seating is available for eight, twelve, or fifteen, depending on configuration. Vinyl upholstery is standard. Black vinyl covers the floor, making it easy to clean up spills. Interior options include cloth upholstery, a tilt steering wheel and cruise control package, rear air-conditioning, carpets, a CD player, and power door locks.
All Express trims come with antilock brakes and anti-skid, as well as dual front and side curtain airbags. NHTSA ratings have not yet been released for 2009, but as this is a carryover year, 2008’s ratings of five stars, excepting rollover, with three stars, can be applied.
What Owners Think
Owners are impressed with the wealth of options and accessories available for the Express, not to mention the fact that despite its utilitarian underpinnings, it doesn’t ride like a standard fleet vehicle. Some have even commented that it holds much more than a pickup with even better versatility and utility.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.