• 2017 Chevy Express and GMC Savana Get the 2.8L Duramax Engine and 8-speed Transmission


    2014 gmc savana commercial van sales
    GMC Savana

    GM’s full-size commercials vans have not receive an update in some time. This will change in early 2017 when both the Chevy Express and the GMC Savana vans receive a brand-new powertrain option. GM is looking to boost the fuel efficiency of the van wth the 2.8L Duramax I4 turbo-diesel engine which is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

    You will recognize the 2.8L Duramax as it is also used in the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. However, it’s paired to a 6-speed automatic in the midsize trucks. The big vans are getting the 8-speed. The exact power output has not yet been announced, but commercial van customers care more about operating costs, maintenance costs and payload capability than outright engine power. The engine’s power should be close to 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It will be interesting to see what payload and towing ratings the new diesel powertrain will be capable of.

    It’s not that long ago that the GM vans were using a 6.6L Duramax V8, but small engines are getting more powerful and more efficient. This help bring down the total cost of ownership and operation. The Express and Savana with the small displacement turbo-diesel will compete directly against the Ford Transit with the 3.2L Power Stroke I5 (185 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque) and the Ram ProMaster with the 3.0L EcoDiesel I4 (174 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque).

    The 2.8L Duramax I4 will be available in all GM van confirmations: 2500 or 3500, short or long wheelbase, cargo or passenger. This option will be available in the first quarter of 2017. The GM vans will also offer the 4.8L and 6.0L Vortec V8 gasoline engines.

    Here is our first drive review of the Chevy Colorado with the 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel.


    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    18 thoughts on “2017 Chevy Express and GMC Savana Get the 2.8L Duramax Engine and 8-speed Transmission

      1. I know exactly what you mean. My body’s been out since 1946 and definitely has been having problems competing with the newer models. Not to mention maintenance, repairs (out of warranty!), general systems degradation. But hey, still gets me where I want to go (mostly…) and definitely not ready for a complete refresh 🙂 So I’m enjoying Thanksgiving!

    1. You know guys, these vans are not very sexy. What you need is a female auto journalist like what Mr Truck had or has to get a females perspective on trucks, especially off road trucks and she could review these vans to make things more exciting for us perverts. But all joking aside I am 6′-4″ 255-Lbs and I could get away with wearing a dress because I have strong heels, anything to get my ass out of Canada.

      But seriously, Womens lib may come after you guys. Where is the female reviewers. A lot of women are into trucks now and I am sure they would be very interested to see what a women has to say about all these vehicles. Lot of women are driving Big rigs now too. Be good to see that perspective even on these vans, wink wink.

      1. Thomas, I do agree with you on a lot of subject, but, for a guy who going his own way, I could care less what women wants, like or find sexy, they have Fiat 500 cars for those women. All I care is utility, payload and reliability. Basically what women don’t offer these days.

        1. Well I just think TFL would get a lot more viewers they are missing out on. There are millions of women who would watch TFL to get a Woman’s view point on trucks. Not to mention the men, plus the arguments would be so much better with raised testosterone levels LOL You know I like to argue.

          Plus I am not saying you guys at TFL are large sized or fat in any way but c’mon, by comparison what does a smaller person like. Are these trucks too big for some women? How do they know? Likely too timid to show up at a dealer; watching a women on TFL would be very informative for the opposite sex. And I mean smaller vs larger here. I am to fing old to be TFL’s sweetheart so I wont press them for employment.

          But I think fleet vans with diesels will be a problem. Even the school and city busses cheat on the diesel emissions to save money by modifying the emission controls and most of them stink to high heaven and blow black coal all over the roads. I don’t know how they get away with it but they do and its a pollution problem.

    2. I wonder how long before the 8 speed makes its way to the Colorado/Canyon. They brought it to the V6 gasser, not sure why the Duramax didn’t get it.

      1. Probably cause they just released the diesel with the 6 speed in January. Most customers (myself included) would be extremely pissed if they updated to an 8 speed in less than a year after purchase.
        Also 6 speed does fine with the midsize so they probably didn’t see no reason to put it in this soon. Plus they have no diesel competition in the midsize market so they will probably hold off on an 8 speed till someone else comes along with a midsize diesel.

    3. Considering the power output on its competitors, I don’t foresee any detuning at all. It’s already at a deficit to the market leading Ford. And the Ram is a much lighter package so it’s power numbers are quite adequate.

    4. I don’t think that this motor should replace the 6.6 altogether. Ambulances, boxtrucks, shuttle buses, school buses shouldn’t have this engine, yes the 6.6 might be more then plenty but the I4 is definitely underpowered for 4500 RV etc. Bring the 4.5 duramax to market for this reason, and while you’re at it, power Silverado 1500HD/2500, and Suburban/Tahoe and their cousins with it!

    5. In 2008 or so Ford stated it would keep the Navistar 6.0L in the E vans till 2010. The E series only had around 10% of its vans sold with the diesel. I dont know what GM’s diesel percentage in their vans are but i suspect with GM being a lower volume van sales segment, the 6.6L is not a big seller. While i agree the 6.6L should be an option for the van i think the 2.8L might work to be ok. And that is it, ok. I have a feeling they will keep the 6.0L for their 14K GVWR vans and limit the 2.8L to around 10K like the Ford Transit van. I believe the Mercedes Sprinter is around 11K GVWR also. Ambulance companies are mainly running Ford E series with the V10. You see some GM vans with a mixture of both engines, the 6.0L gas and the 6.6L diesel. I have seen some companies that were running Sprinters start a switch over the Transit van in both diesel and the 3.5L ecoboost V6. The GM 2.8L may work to be ok in the under 10K GVWR version but the HP levels may make it really slow in the city with a 14K GVWR range. But i could be incorrect and time will tell.

    6. These trucks need the new 4.3 and 8 speed, 5.3 8 speed for the 2500s. Most trades don’t want the eurovan unless they need the height. The GM vans just need a slight visual tweak, with the new powertrains. Sales would skyrocket.

    7. I’ve been using GM vans for my business the last 20 years. Here’s what needs to be done in my opinion. Improve the seating / driving position, make it more comfortable to drive. The front doors need to open further like the ford Econoline vans which makes it easier to clean it. Build the darn 4.5 duramax and make it an optional engine in addition to whats currently offered for people that have to tow equipment. The 4.8 and 6.0 are good but fuel efficiency and longevity are key. I’ve had 2 4.8 liter engines crack heads leading to expensive repairs. Other than that, the vans last a long time. I have several that have over 250k miles on them all original engines trans etc. Looking forward to the 2.8 regarding fuel efficiency.

    8. Agree with Max,just some tweeks. have a 07 3500 , 6.0. 176k miles. super reliable, only thing I have replaced is the radiator, runs like a champ. looking forward to see how the duramax plays out..I have a feeling our new van from chevy in the future will be a opel movano.

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