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The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Making Full-Size Vans Work for 2016

April 2016, by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

There are seven versatile full-size work van models that are new and improved for the 2016 model-year.

Check out the stats and features important to fleet managers to help make this important purchase decision:

Chevrolet Express Cargo Van & GMC Savana Cargo Van

The Chevrolet Express Cargo Van (pictured) and GMC Savana Cargo Van are available in two wheelbases and offer a choice of two gasoline engines as well as a turbodiesel V-8. (PHOTO: GM)
The Chevrolet Express Cargo Van (pictured) and GMC Savana Cargo Van are available in two wheelbases and offer a choice of two gasoline engines as well as a turbodiesel V-8. (PHOTO: GM)

The Chevrolet Express Cargo Van and GMC Savana Cargo Van are available in regular (135-inch) and extended (155-inch) wheelbase lengths, as well as in heavy-duty 2500 Series and 3500 Series models.

The vans offer a choice of two gasoline engines: a standard 4.8L V-8 rated at 285 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque and an available 6.0L V-8 rated at 342 hp and 373 lb.-ft. of torque. The engines are mated to the Hydra-Matic 6L90 6-speed automatic and a fast-idle option. The 6.0L is also offered in a special version with hardened valve seats for the available dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) models.

The available LGH Duramax turbodiesel V-8 delivers 260 hp and 525 lb.-ft. of torque. The LGH engine was designed with an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooling system and revised turbocharger tuning.

The Duramax also provides outstanding cold-weather performance, with microprocessor-controlled glow plugs capable of gasoline-engine-like start performance in less than three seconds in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit without a block heater. The engine has been developed to operate for at least 200,000 miles on a rough-duty cycle without the need for a major overhaul.

A fuel-operated heater also is available for vans equipped with the Duramax 6.6L.

The 2500 Series models are rated at 8,600-pounds GVWR and the 3500 Series is rated at 9,600-pounds GVWR. Both have a standard 4.8L gasoline V-8 and optional 6.0L gasoline engine. Also available is a 9,900-pound GVWR option with the available Duramax 6.6L turbodiesel.

New for 2016 is OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, and an available navigation radio with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system.

Ford E-Series

The Ford E-Series chassis can tow up 10,000 pounds when properly equipped, and payload tops out at 8,988 pounds. (PHOTO: Ford)
The Ford E-Series chassis can tow up 10,000 pounds when properly equipped, and payload tops out at 8,988 pounds. (PHOTO: Ford)

The Ford E-Series is offered in cutaway and stripped chassis versions. The E-350 and E-450 cutaways are available with special prep packages for conversion to ambulances, motor homes, shuttle buses, and school buses.

The Ford E-Series cutaway can tow up 10,000 pounds when properly equipped, and payload tops out at 8,988 pounds.

A 6.2L V-8 engine will be available midyear for the 2017 E-Series cutaway. The 6.2L V-8 engine’s single-overhead-cam design and dual-equal variable cam timing help optimize power through the entire power range.

The V-8 engine is E-85 flex-fuel-capable. A compressed natural gas (CNG)/propane autogas gaseous engine prep package is available for conversion to compressed natural gas or propane autogas. An E-Series cutaway with the CNG/propane package can be upgraded with aftermarket upfits to bi-fuel capability — enabling it to run on either unleaded gasoline or natural gas.

Customers can choose from the new 6.2L V-8 or the standard 6.8L V-10, which delivers 305 hp and 420 lb.-ft. torque. It is mated to the TorqShift 6-Speed automatic transmission designed to handle high-torque demands and featuring a selectable tow/haul mode that reduces gear hunting when towing and uses engine braking when descending steep grades. The engine also is available with the CNG/Propane Gaseous Engine Prep Package.

Ford Transit

The Ford Transit is available with 64 configurations, including a chassis cab and cutaway body version. (PHOTO: FORD)
The Ford Transit is available with 64 configurations, including a chassis cab and cutaway body version. (PHOTO: FORD)

The best-selling full-size van, the Ford Transit, is available with 64 configurations from the factory for the 2017 model-year. Fleets can choose from three lengths, three roof heights, two wheelbases, three engines, and a variety of sliding door/seating options. Twelve upfitters are located within 30 miles of the Transit assembly plant in Kansas City, Mo. The van also is available in chassis cab and cutaway body styles.

The standard 3.7L Ti-VCT V-6 engine delivers 275 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque and is available with a compressed natural gas (CNG)/propane autogas gaseous engine prep package. The available 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost engine offers a best-in-class gasoline engine torque rating of 400 lb.-ft. The available 3.2L Power Stroke five-cylinder diesel engine provides 90% of its peak torque from 1,500 to 2,750 rpm.

The standard 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission features selectable tow/haul mode to compensate for grade and load while also reducing gear hunting when towing or hauling heavy cargo.

The high-roof van features 81.5 inches of interior cargo height, the medium-roof model offers up to 72 inches of cargo height, and the low-roof model has nearly 57 inches. The interior has also been designed for easy upfit of racks, bins, and shelving. When properly equipped, the Transit provides up to 487.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity, with rear cargo doors that can open up to 237 degrees.

The Transit comes with the Ford SYNC communications and entertainment system and the available Ford Telematics Powered by Telogis system.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers two engine choices, three body lengths, three body heights, and the option of a gasoline or diesel engine. (PHOTO: MBUSA)
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers two engine choices, three body lengths, three body heights, and the option of a gasoline or diesel engine. (PHOTO: MBUSA)

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter features the choice of two diesel engines, 4x4, three body lengths, three body heights, four GVWRs, three cargo door choices, and four seating configurations.

The standard Sprinter engine is a 2.1L four-cylinder diesel that produces 161 hp, with 266 lb.-ft. of torque available at 1,400. The optional DOHC 3.0L V-6 diesel engine produces 188 hp, with 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,400 rpm.

To maximize fuel economy, the four-cylinder diesel features the only 7-speed automatic transmission in a van in North America. The V-6 diesel is mated to a 5-speed automatic. An SULEV version of the four-cylinder diesel engine is available as the only diesel with this designation.

The Sprinter 4x4 option is available in all wheelbases and most body and GVWR configurations, all with the 3.0L V-6 as the exclusive powertrain. The Sprinter 4x4 is ideal for construction sites, oil fields, and severe weather.

The Sprinter 2500 series comes in a 144-inch, 170-inch, or “170Ext-inch” wheelbase, with standard, high-roof, and super-high roof bodies, all with 8,550-pounds GVWR.

The 3500 comes in 144-inch, 170-inch, or “170Ext-inch” wheelbase, with high-roof or super-high roof bodies and offering a choice of 9,990-, 10,140-, or 11,030-pound GVWR capabilities.

Body styles include Cargo Van with two or three seats, Crew Van with seating for five, and Passenger Van with seating for up to 12. A Cab Chassis and Cutaway are also available. Cutaways are available with the roof structure missing for easy body integration.

Active safety features include anti-lock brake system (ABS), load-adaptive electronic stability program, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), automatic brake disc drying system, and Electronic Brake Prefill.

Nissan NV Cargo Van

The Nissan NV Cargo van is offered in three models with its Standard Roof or two models in the High Roof body. (PHOTO: NISSAN)
The Nissan NV Cargo van is offered in three models with its Standard Roof or two models in the High Roof body. (PHOTO: NISSAN)

The 2016 Nissan NV Cargo van is powered by a choice of 4.0L V-6 rated at 261 hp and 281 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 5.6L V-8 rated at 317 hp and 385 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines are matched to a standard 5-speed automatic transmission.

The Nissan NV200 is produced in Canton, Miss., and comes standard with a five-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty as well as Roadside Assistance with Trip Interruption service.

Three models are available: the V-6-equipped NV1500, the NV2500 HD offered with V-6 and V-8 engines and the NV3500 HD is offered with a standard V-8 engine.

All three models are available with the Standard Roof while the High Roof body is offered in the NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD models only. In addition, three grade levels are available, S, SV, and SL.

The Nissan NV Cargo utilizes a conventional truck engine layout with out-front engine design, which eliminates the traditional van engine “doghouse” that intrudes into the cab. It also provides easy under-hood access to the entire engine.

The NV Cargo Standard Roof models offer a maximum 55.8-inch cargo area height while the NV Cargo High Roof provides a maximum of 76.9-inch cargo area height.

The NV Cargo offers room between the wheelhouses to accommodate standard plywood or drywall sheets or pallets, a range of cargo area tie-down rings, and cargo area lighting.

Standard Roof NV Cargo models are designed to fit in most garages and offer easier reach to access roof racks.

High Roof models offer an available overhead console designed to hold work gloves, legal size binders, safety glasses, and system books.

Along with maximizing cargo space, the NV Cargo is designed to accommodate aftermarket customization and modifications with 57 interior reinforced integrated attachment points for installation of cargo customization equipment, requiring no sheet metal drilling.

Enhancements for 2016 include the addition of supplemental front seat-mounted side impact air bags and roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags for front outboard occupant head protection (includes rollover sensor) as standard equipment.

Ram ProMaster

The 2016 Ram ProMaster full-size van is available in 15 different configurations, and offers both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory. (PHOTO: FCA US)
The 2016 Ram ProMaster full-size van is available in 15 different configurations, and offers both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory. (PHOTO: FCA US)

The Ram ProMaster full-size van is available in two roof heights, three wheelbases, and four body lengths, offering a total of 15 different configurations across the 1500, 2500, and 3500 model lineup. It also offers both a chassis cab and cutaway from the factory.

The powertrain lineup features a standard, gasoline-fueled 3.6L Pentastar V-6 engine, rated at 280 hp with peak torque of 260 lb.-ft., mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with an 11,500-pound GCWR. A 3.0L EcoDiesel I-4 engine, rated at 175 hp with a peak torque of 295 lb.-ft., mated to an electronically controlled Dual Active Drive 6-speed automated manual, with a 12,500-pound GCWR, is optional.

The ProMaster’s unibody frame architecture allows for a payload capacity up to 5,150 pounds and a maximum towing capacity up to 5,100 pounds. The unibody system under the cab also enables the ProMaster’s front-wheel-drive system.

The full-size van features a standard sliding door on the passenger side with an optional sliding door on the driver’s side. The sliding door openings are based on roof height — 42 x 60 inches for the low-roof model and 49 x 70 inches for high-roof models.

An available three-position rear clamshell door swings open up to 260 degrees. All three door openings enable forklift pallet loading and unloading. 

The ProMaster also offers more than 35 active and passive safety and security features, including standard electronic stability control (ESC), ParkView rear backup camera, and ParkSense rear park assist with audible warning. 

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