2015 Chevrolet City Express LT

2015 Chevrolet City Express LT Review

You don't need a big van to do big things.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: June 11th, 2015

The 2015 Chevrolet City Express is GM's latest small van, arriving on the heels of some brand new competitors, including the Ram ProMaster City, the Ford Transit Connect, and the Nissan NV200. But wait, you with the keen eyes might observe that this City Express looks a whole lot like a Nissan NV200. You'd be correct; in fact, structurally speaking, they're nearly exactly the same. The switchgear is unmistakably Nissan, and aside from a few badge swaps, the two are twins.

Thankfully, Chevrolet didn't just slap some badges on an existing vehicle and sell it as-is. Instead, Chevrolet used its wealth of small-van experience to build upon this platform. There are several bits of this car that are unique to the City Express:

  • Six interior cargo tie-downs, up from Nissan's four.
  • Two rear dome lights, up from Nissan's one.
  • 81 potential configurations, up from Nissan's 20.
  • Optional side glass.
  • Available aluminum wheels.
  • Standard two-year, 24,000-mile paid maintenance.

Paid maintenance alone might be enough reason to have business owners cross-shopping two vans that are very nearly the same. Yet, if you're really getting down and dirty with the City Express, the other changes might also sway you in Chevy's direction. Thankfully, we had a chance to put the City Express through some typical heavy-duty paces, and we think it performed swimmingly.

  • Interior

    Well, the City Express is a van, and it's meant for work, so it's not like you're going to be able to shove the whole family in here. (There are no plans for a passenger-oriented version, a la the Ford Transit Connect Wagon - well, none that GM will go on the record to confirm, at least.)

    That said, for a no-nonsense setup, the City Express is still rocking a comfortable interior. Every piece of plastic is about as hard as limestone, but when you need to clean it, you'll be glad that it's not nappa leather. There are two giant cupholders and plenty of other storage options in the center console, and a center-mounted USB port is nice and convenient. The passenger seat can fold down to create a flat workspace, as well. It's very well thought out.

  • Exterior

    Again, the Chevrolet City Express is a van. It's not here to impress you; it's here to get shit done. It has a taller roof, a slippery-looking front end, and tiny little baby wheels with a ride height that could be measured in furlongs. As far as the segment goes, it's a bit more handsome than the Ram ProMaster City, but the Ford Transit Connect has it beat in the looks department.

  • On the Road

    The City Express is surprisingly composed on the road, even when the cargo area isn't saddled with all manner of things. The empty van does a good job of managing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH), although there's no getting around the echo-y plinks from gravel or rain coming in contact with various body panels.

    The harshest noise in the City Express comes from its 2.0-liter engine, which warbles and groans its way down the road; yes, a CVT confers superior fuel economy and is a more-than-adequate match for the somewhat-weak powertrain, but the cacophony left in its wake isn't exactly pleasant. But hey, what's pleasant about a stripped-down work van with no rear glass?

    Speaking of no rear glass, if you opt for a thoroughly-paneled City Express, let's hope you're confident with your backing-up skills. Yes, a backup camera and rear parking sensors do make reversing easier, but the camera is pointed mostly downwards, removing any sort of peripheral vision when backing out of a space. However, thanks to steering that's nice and light, and a brake pedal that provides good feel and easy modulation, maneuvering the City Express through tight spaces is staggeringly easy. As the name suggests, it's pretty great in the city.

    We spent the better part of a full week using this van to move your author several miles to a new apartment in Chicago. It's small, so finding a good parking spot was never hard. And, thanks to two sliding side doors and rear doors that open wide, loading the City Express was easy no matter where it was parked. With the rear full of heavy items, the van felt more composed over rougher pavement; most of the time, it felt more like a crossover than an implement that's for work and work alone.

  • Final Thoughts

    Over the past week, we were able to put the Chevrolet City Express through its paces, hauling a metric ton of crap through dense city traffic. The van performed well, providing solid fuel economy and plenty of versatility. It's not perfect, but it's a very capable performer in this segment, and we would recommend this van to any business or small-business owner that needs a straightforward work vehicle that doesn't feel cheap. Yet, with a base price well under $30,000, it's a solid value proposition nonetheless.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-4

    Transmission: Continuously variable

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 131 horsepower / 139 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 24 city / 26 highway

    Base Price: $23,515

    As Tested: $25,810 (incl. $995 destination)

    Available Features:

    Technology Package: Navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB port, backup camera

    Appearance Package: Body-color door handles, wheel covers, power side mirrors, chrome grille, body color bumpers

    Individual Options: Rear-door glass, passenger-side sliding door glass, driver-side sliding door glass, navigation, USB port, satellite radio, backup camera

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