When the Chevrolet Express debuted in the mid ‘90s, it happily puttered around with around 200 horsepower. Two and a half decades on and Chevrolet has gifted this utility van its new 6.6-liter V8, good for 401 HP. It’s not what the van needed—it’s what it deserved.
It’s both surprising and reassuring for me to learn that Chevy has been selling the same van for almost 25 years with almost no changes, and its sales have never dipped lower than 50,000 units a year.
There’s always been one relatively high-power V8 on the options list, it’s just that now it has crossed into complete bonkers territory. GM is swapping out the older 6.0-liter V8 unit for the new 6.6-liter unit found in the new heavy-duty Chevy Silverado pickups.
If you’ve ever driven a van, just keep in mind what that was like. Very little weight, very little bullshit, only somewhat nerve-racking to drive down city streets. Now add a 401 HP, 464 lb-ft of torque V8 engine into that mix and things are either going to be a lot of fun, or that wedding cake you’re trying to deliver is going to have to be eaten with spoons out of the back of your van.
Those new power figures beat out the old 6.0-liter V8 by 60 more horsepower and almost 90 lb-ft of torque, which is what comfortably fits into the category of “way, way, way more than enough.”
The engine itself isn’t just some copy-paste job shared with the average grocery store SUV either. It’s an iron block that appears to be heavily modeled after GM’s aluminum 6.2-liter L86, which is in a lot of mall lot SUVs, but the new 6.6-liter is an iron block and the greater displacement makes for more torque over the 6.2. It’s a beefier engine for a beefier job.
The new engine will be available on the Express as well as Chevy’s Low Cab Forward trucks starting this summer, though it’s unclear if that will also come with a price change for the biggest V8 option. Currently, the base Express with the 6.0-liter V8 starts at $34,290.
The best part of this all, though, is that GM isn’t sticking its neck out for the new engine. GM knows what people want; it claims 70 percent of “current” Express owners opted for the most powerful 6.0-liter V8 option, and commercial sales of the model rose by 12 percent last year (though overall Express sales were down compared to 2018).
This Express is unhinged, but so is America, I guess. You could fit a lot of hand sanitizer in the back of this thing and haul ass to your quarantine pretty quick. It’s the future.