General Motors has announced pricing for its all-new 2003 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans will start at $22,550 for the base 2WD, ½-ton cargo model. GM noted that ‘03 ¾-ton cargo models, equipped with standard Vortec 4300 V6 engine, are priced the same as the current ‘02 models.

“We were able to essentially hold the line on pricing on many of our models, yet introduce an all-new van that delivers many segment-leading features and performance that’s strong, smart and surprising,” said Dave Kanous, marketing director for Express and Savana. “The 2003 Express and Savana feature bold truck-like styling and best-in-class brake and engine performance will exceed the expectations of even the most demanding customers.”

“The 2003 Express and Savana offer an array of smart features including oil life and air filter monitors, battery run-down and lock-out protection, standard anti-lock brakes, and a tow/haul mode switch,” said Kanous. “Customers will truly be surprised at the equipment the base pricing includes.”

Standard features on all ‘03 Express and Savana models include 16-in. wheels, independent front suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. The vans will be offered with Vortec gasoline engines, including the 300-hp Vortec 6000 that GM says is the most powerful V8 in its class.

At a ride/drive event held yesterday for customers, dealers and the press, GM said capacity constraints are keeping it from offering a diesel engine in its ’03 vans. “We can’t build the Duramax diesel fast enough,” said Dave Hansen, general manager of GM Fleet & Commercial Operations. “It has just taken off and we are now trying to expand production within the bricks and mortar already in place at the plant (in Moraine, OH).”

Hansen said that once production of the Isuzu diesel does increase, GM will “package” the engine to power additional models, including vans “in a few years” and SUVs, such as the Chevy Suburban, as well.

The ’03 vans also boast several “industry-first” optional features, including all wheel drive (on 135-in. wheelbase models), left- hand 60/40 swing-out doors, and remote-control side access panels on cargo models. Production of both ’03 models is slated to begin next month.