DETROIT -- It’s rare for an automaker to allow a vehicle to stick around for two decades without a major redesign. It’s rarer still to equip such a dinosaur with a brand-new powertrain.
But that’s what General Motors is doing for its full-size commercial vans, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.
GM will drop its 2.8-liter, Duramax turbodiesel engine into the vans as an option starting early next year for the 2017 model year. Yes, that’s the same engine that propelled the Chevy Colorado midsize pickup to the coveted Motor Trend Truck of the Year nod in 2015.
The diesel vans also will get an eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain will be offered on short- and long-wheelbase versions of the 2500 and 3500 cargo and passenger vans.
The logistics are easy enough. The vans and pickups both are assembled at GM’s Wentzville, Mo., plant, near St. Louis.
Still, those products occupy polar opposite ends of GM’s vehicle stable. The Colorado and sibling GMC Canyon are two of the newest and hottest vehicles in GM’s stable. The vans were developed when Hillary Clinton was enjoying her husband’s first presidential term and a decade before Donald Trump had publicly humiliated his first “Apprentice” contestant.