What’s The Difference between Chevy to express 1500, 2500, and also 3500 Vans.

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Post published:January 17, 2021

Are friend curious what the difference is between the various species of Chevrolet express Vans? What exactly is the difference in between Chevy 1500, 2500, and also 3500? and also note the the GMC Savana van is mechanically the same to the Chevy Express. They are both make by general Motors, so everything I cite in this post applies to both currently of vehicles. I will describe the difference between these common Chevy and GMC Vans, and also why you might select one end another.


(And if you room curious, the various other American vans have a comparable relationship. So you can roughly use the same explanation come Ford E-series vans and Dodge ram Vans 1500, 2500, 3500)

In straightforward to understand terms, the greater the number, the more heavy-duty the van is and also the more weight it deserve to haul. And it way the vans are built with various parts to accommodate much more weight (i.e. Enlarge engines, an ext robust suspension/brakes/ and other parts).

The Chevy Express and GMC Savana are general Motors’ full-size vans that have remained in production due to the fact that 1995. They changed the Chevrolet Van and also GMC Vandura i beg your pardon were based on a unibody design. But beginning with the Express and Savana, castle switched come a body-on-frame design that’s borrowed from your trucks.

So if you’re familiar with Chevy Trucks, the Chevy express vans have a comparable relationship as the Chevy 1500, 2500, and also 3500 Trucks.

2014 was the last year of production for the “light-duty” express 1500 and also Savana 1500.

And basic Motors made part All-Wheel-Drive models of the to express 1500 and Savana 1500. Yet after the discontinuation the the 1500’s, AWD is no longer available.

Curb Weight – how much a automobile weighs there is no passengers or cargo.

GVWR – stands for Gross vehicle Weight Rating, and also it’s the preferably weight that a car can reach consisting of passengers, cargo, gasoline, fluids.

Payload – just how much weight in cargo and/or passenger a automobile can carry. You subtract GVWR – Curb weight = Payload.

The number in the surname of every van (Chevy to express 1500, 2500, 3500) indicates their enhancing payload (how lot weight it deserve to haul).

There space two key classifications that assist group comparable vehicles.

The first is how the government classifies vehicles (for fuel efficiency). Lock classify Light-Duty as any vehicle v up to 8500lbs GVWR or up to 4000lbs payload. The Chevy to express 2500 and 3500 room both thought about heavy-duty vehicles because they have a GVWR over 8500lbs. The express 1500 is under the threshold, for this reason it’s taken into consideration light-duty.

The 2nd common shorthand means to divide vans is by referring to your payload in terms of tons one ton = 2000lbs. Therefore the 1500 is ½ ton, 2500 is a ¾ ton, and also 3500 is a one ton. However this device is wildly outdated due to the fact that the payload ratings have soared past those definitions. For example, the “one ton” 2020 Chevy express 3500 has a payload of 4,250lbs, i m sorry is precise over 2 tons! and yet, world still usage these antiquated terms.

In order come haul much more weight, each raising van has specific parts upgraded to accommodate a higher payload. For this reason the 2500’s and also 3500’s are constructed with much more robust suspension, brakes, etc. Castle may additionally have larger engines, better transmissions, and higher output alternator.

It’s essential to select a van with an ideal payload rating for your intended use. Together I mentioned, the payload ratings from shortest to greatest are 1500, 2500 and also then 3500. And generally payloads and also towing capacity rise over time as the modern technology improves. However, the change is an extremely gradual together these vans were largely treated together “if it ain’t broke, don’t solve it”.

But other to keep in mind is the the All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) express 1500 models are on average about 300lbs heavier, which way about 300lbs much less payload.


The to express 1500’s have actually the shortest towing capacity. And the 2500 and also 3500 are on top and also have generally been rated to have the same towing capacity.

The continual length to express vans have a 135” wheelbase. And also the extended models have a 155” wheelbase, and also offer boost in cargo space from 239 cu. Ft. To 284 cu. Ft.

You will watch the Chevy to express 1500, 2500, 3500 available in cargo or wagon models. Basically, the cargo vans are occupational vans the are just an empty metal shell in the back. The wagon models (aka passenger) room meant for carrying people. Castle will have seats, a finished interior, and possibly behind climate control, lights, charge ports, etc.

The LT and also LS titles stand for the different trim offerings. Lock are typically reserved because that the passenger (wagon) models due to the fact that they include extra functions that make the van much more comfortable for passengers. That can incorporate carpeted floors, rear air-conditioning, satellite radio, nicer upholstery, chrome bumpers, and also more.

That’s pretty much the finish of the easily quantifiable differences in between Chevy express 1500, 2500, and also 3500. But smart buyers will still wonder exactly how these various models compare in category with bigger variance, such together Fuel Economy, expense of Ownership, and also Longevity.

I’ve spent hrs researching the more nuanced differences in between Express and also Savana vans. The trouble is that finding concrete proof to support claims is difficult because the real-world doesn’t function like part perfectly regulated science experiment. And manufacturers are even exempt from reporting numerous statistics because that heavy-duty vehicles.

Or you can turn to automotive website like Edmunds.com, Autoblog.com, etc that either regurgitate the manufacturers claims, or shot (and maybe fail) to make predictions about real-world MPG, expense of Ownership, etc.And lastly, you have actually just regular civilization on forums and blogs giving their very own anecdotal “evidence” to assistance their claims. And obviously that technique is topic to error.

So I’ve excellent my best to summary the points that are generally embraced as true. The is, multiple sources confirm about the same information.

But one large piece the advice that ns hear echoed over and over from fleet owners and mechanics is this:

How you treat your van is much an ext important 보다 which one girlfriend have. Any kind of marginal distinction in fuel economy, repair costs, and also longevity can be obliterated by poor ownership.

The fuel economy generally gets worse v each boosting model. Yet the variance is only a few MPG.

And this that course depends on exactly how you usage the van. Since an overloaded refer 1500 will acquire worse MPG than an refer 3500 working comfortably in ~ it’s GVWR.

The reality that these vans space tuned for certain payloads, means that lock ride smoother as soon as loaded properly. Therefore an north Express 3500 is walking to it is in a really turbulent ride. Whereas an overloaded express 1500 will additionally be rough, because the suspension is bottoming out.

Repairs and Maintenance

The repairs and maintenance will certainly on typical cost much more for each enhancing model.


A WELL-MAINTAINED Chevy refer van should last till 250-300k miles on the original engine. And also the transmission generally bites the dust roughly 120-200k miles.

As far as the difference in between 1500, 2500 and 3500, I’ve just seen anecdotal cases that the 2500’s and also 3500’s vans last longer. But it’s hard to uncover concrete evidence of this in the actual world. And also it may be the Express 1500 owner are simply overloading your vans, for this reason they don’t last as long.


The primary variable when picking from the Chevy Express and GMC Savana lineup is Payload and also Towing, because that is the key quantifiable difference. At the finish of the day, you require a van qualified of managing the load you should move. But equally important is finding a van it is in an excellent mechanical shape.

In the paper definition of campervan conversions, the weight of your conversion products will dictate the payload required. This will rely on what kind of conversion you planning. A general rule of thumb is the 2500 and 3500 are finest for intricate conversions through wooden furniture, water tanks, batteries, and all your belongings. The express 1500 is much better suited because that builds through lightweight products (plastic, foam, aluminium) or “weekend-warrior” type conversions that aren’t loaded with so many personal belongings.

Unless she towing something like a large boat or camper trailer, then any kind of Express van will execute the job. But if you space towing hefty loads climate you might want to think about an to express 2500 or refer 3500.

If you have to have prolonged van, climate you are minimal to the express 2500 and also Express 3500.

Read My other Post: just how To select a Van because that a Campervan Converison.
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Jake Junda
Jake is a blogger, web developer, photographer, videographer, music-lover, and also full-time van lifer. That enjoys hiking, backpacking, cooking, traveling, and adventures right into the outdoors.

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