General Motors’ commercial fleet business has grown by 67 percent since 2013, the Chevrolet Express van — now heading into its 26th year — gaining 12 percent across all its configurations in 2019. And because around 70% of Express buyers have chosen the 6.0-liter Vortec V8 engine with 341 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque, GM’s prepped a more powerful V8 for 2021. Available from this summer, the 2021 Express van and Low Cab Forward trucks will offer the new 6.6-liter gas-powered V8 that debuted with the 2020 Silverado HD trucks. It will make the same figures in the Express as in the Silverado, 401 hp and 464 lb-ft, for improvements of 17% and 24%, respectively, over the old Vortec. In the LCF trucks, the same engine will produce 350 hp and 425 lb-ft, bumps of roughly 18% and 14% over the 297 hp and 372 lb-ft from its 6.0-liter V8.
According to GM Authority, the 6.6-liter replaces both V8s currently on offer, one of which is capable of running on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas. The 6.6-liter will use the same six-speed automatic as the current V8. The base engine remains the 4.3-liter EcoTec V6 with 276 hp and 296 lb-ft, the third option a 2.8L Duramax four-cylinder diesel with 181 hp and 369 lb-ft. Both of those engines shift through an eight-speed automatic.
The medium duty Silverado 4500 HD, 5500 HD, and 6500 HD chassis cabs get in on the upgrades, too. Fleets will be able to order longer bodies for the two shortest wheelbases. Engineers upped the GCWR by 23% to to 37,000 pounds, added a mechanical rear differential for traction, and a port for the power take-off on the left side so user can run equipment on either side of the trucks. Useful workday improvements come will come with extended mirror arms outside, and an available auxiliary switch bank with six blanks in the headliner.
It’s not yet clear if the similar GMC Savana will also get the engine upgrade, but it seems likely.