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GM Redesigning Full-Size Vans

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

General Motors’ full-size vans are receiving their first major remake in seven years. The
2003 Chevy Express and GMC Savana get a new look, upgraded powertrains, plus safety and
reliability upgrades and other new features. Among these are three claimed “industry
firsts” for the full-size van market: all-wheel-drive models, a left-hand-side loading door
option, and side-access panels on Express Access and Savana Pro models. Drivetrain changes
include the segment’s most powerful V-8 (Vortec 6000); fastest light-duty acceleration
(Vortec 5300); and the highest maximum payload rating (2,430 pounds) of any light-duty,
base-model van (6200-pound gross vehicle weight G1500 Series). The vans offer a new range
of Gen III V8 engines: the 275-horsepower Vortec 4800, 285-hp Vortec 5300 and 300-hp Vortec
6000 — and a new 200-hp version of the Vortec 4300 V-6 is now the base engine for
light-duty G-Series vans. GM says the fuel-efficient Vortec 6000 has made the Vortec 8100
and 6.5-liter diesel obsolete. All models have standard four-speed automatic transmission
with overdrive and optional tow/haul mode. The new vans share components from the Chevy
Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks, allowing all-wheel-drive models to be
added with a full-time viscous-coupled transfer case. The 60/40 left-hand-side entry/load
door, available on regular-length passenger and cargo vans, is said to provide the
segment’s most flexible passenger entry/cargo loading capability. New side-access doors
with remote release on work-oriented Savana Pro and Express Access models allow access from
both sides of the vehicle. New, stiffer box frames deliver more torsional rigidity and are
home to new front and rear suspensions, which are modified from those used on GM’s
full-size pickups. All models have 16-inch wheels and four-wheel-disc ABS brake systems as
standard. Express/Savana passenger vans remain available in regular (135-inch) and extended
(155-inch) wheelbase lengths and provide 8-, 12- or 15-person carrying capability.
Cutaways, which can be converted to various motorhome and commercial requirements, are
available in 139-, 159- and 177-inch wheelbase lengths.

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