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Last Post 20 May 2009 02:47 PM by  Primetime Glick
Suburban vs Express
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msw151
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19 Jan 2009 04:08 PM

    Which would be best all-around choice, for tows of 400 miles or less, and to live with on a day to day basis, and to not break down with expensive engine or tranny problems?

    1997 Suburban 2500 with 7.4L and tow package, 130k miles

    or

    2003 Chevy Express 3500 15 passenger with 6.0L and tow package, 215k miles

    both going for about $4000.

    loosecannon
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    19 Jan 2009 07:44 PM
    I had a Suburban for years with the lowest maintenance costs of any vehicle I've ever had, then I sold it and regretted it. Now I bought another one, a 1995 K1500 4x4 with 5.7 L and it's wonderful for towing and just getting around. My brother borrowed it and hauled 12 kids to a Halloween party and the 4x4 models and pull nearly anything out of a ditch or snowbank. I also have a 2005 Hemi Ram and usually take the Suburban because it's so comfy and gets the same fuel economy. I had to replace the ABS module and it was only $300 for one from the wrecker because most parts from the pickups, Yukons, etc are all the same.
    Steve Hoelscher
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    Posts:831


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    19 Jan 2009 10:08 PM
    msw151 wrote:

    1997 Suburban 2500 with 7.4L and tow package, 130k miles

    or

    2003 Chevy Express 3500 15 passenger with 6.0L and tow package, 215k miles

    There are lots of people on this forum that love their vans. Me included. Vans have way more room that Suburbans and in most cases are more comfortable to travel in.

    The 7.4 was a gas hog from my experience. The much newer 6.0 probably makes the same power but will get better mileage. Also, the newer version 4L80E automatic should be more durable.

    geewiz
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    20 Jan 2009 01:20 AM
     
    I have a suburban 2500 w/ the 7.4L; be prepared for 11.5 MPG not towing, and 11 MPG towing an open trailer (and mine isn't a 4x4). Agree that it's fairly low maintenance; the transmission in the 2500 is said to be much stronger than the 1500. Does have a few issues that come with this vehicle, notably that it tends to develop a coolant leak at the manifold that is moderately expensive to pay someone else to fix (labor, not parts).

    Only carries about half as many people as the van, though :-). 

    -- Glenn 
    StrokerAce
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    21 Jan 2009 08:55 PM

    I stumbled across this possibliity.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/e...;viewitem=

    Steve Hoelscher
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    Posts:831


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    21 Jan 2009 09:44 PM
    Damn! That is a smokin' deal. If you don't buy it I may!
    gpny
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    27 Jan 2009 10:44 AM

    I don't know if these things could be made to tow, but they are super cheap, have the diesel motors, and a ton of interior space...

    http://newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/c...93584.html

    Any comments on these?

    Steve Hoelscher
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    27 Jan 2009 12:08 PM
    gpny wrote:

    I don't know if these things could be made to tow, but they are super cheap, have the diesel motors, and a ton of interior space...

    http://newyork.craigslist.org/lgi/c...93584.html

    Any comments on these?

    Bascially, the same as towing with a small motorhome. They are built on E350 motorhome cutaway chassis. The only drawback is most of these see very hard use. Unless they are low mileage, they are pretty well used up.

    Davard
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    Posts:1249


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    27 Jan 2009 02:30 PM
    Steve Hoelscher wrote:
    msw151 wrote:

    1997 Suburban 2500 with 7.4L and tow package, 130k miles

    or

    2003 Chevy Express 3500 15 passenger with 6.0L and tow package, 215k miles

    There are lots of people on this forum that love their vans.  Me included.   Vans have way more room that Suburbans and in most cases are more comfortable to travel in. 

    The 7.4 was a gas hog from my experience.  The much newer 6.0 probably makes the same power but will get better mileage.  Also, the newer version 4L80E automatic should be more durable.

     The biggest disadvantage with vans is their height. Most are 81-84" tall (with the 3/4 ton+ models being taller, generally), which means that they won't fit in many garages, and a lot of parking structures are too short as well. 

    Primetime Glick
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    Posts:1279


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    20 May 2009 02:47 PM
    msw151 wrote:

    Which would be best all-around choice, for tows of 400 miles or less, and to live with on a day to day basis, and to not break down with expensive engine or tranny problems?

    1997 Suburban 2500 with 7.4L and tow package, 130k miles

    or

    2003 Chevy Express 3500 15 passenger with 6.0L and tow package, 215k miles

    both going for about $4000.

    Neither, unless you plan to completely overhaul the chassis and powertrain. Regular 400 mile towing plus daily driving is not a 5 mi trip to the boat ramp that you want to chance with well-abused ball joints, tie rods, and valvesprings. If the ones you're eyeballing have a big hefty hitch with plenty of scratches and rust, I'd be even more wary. 5w hitch? Forget it. 3/4-tons aren't typically used to tow Sea-Doos.

    A while back I thought about getting an older tow vehicle like that and building it back up. For example, I remember building a "wish list" for a $1500 '94 Sub involving a chassis overhaul and a GW 350/TCI 700r4, but decided against it after I realistically calculated all the costs involved.

    After lots and lots of looking and calculating I've concluded that something 5-7 years old with <100k miles plus a good aftermarket warranty (i.e. warrantydirect.com) is the best bang for the buck. I already have one rotting project car and I don't need another.

    Plus, there's the size and MPG factor for what you drive on a daily basis. If you don't have to tow more than 5000# and live/drive in a space-challenged urban area, there are plenty of compact/mid-size trucks that can do the trick with a few key mods and the use of common sense. Going from big trucks to a small one on a daily basis made a world of difference in ease of driveability, for me anyway.

    As far as big GMs go, the '99 (or '02+?) HD trucks come standard with the 6.0 (decent power), have trans temp gauges, and even the stripped work trucks often come with cruise control. Some even come with some sort of plug-and-play TBC connection. I remember last year seeing an out-of-work construction contractor fleecing their their superintendent trucks, selling 2500HD reg-cab 60,000-mile late-model Sierras with hitches, toolboxes, TBC plug and play, and cruise control for like $5,000 or something.

    The vans don't have the TT gauges or the TBC port, nor the easy visibility of a truck, but you can't beat a cargo van for space and ease of access, especially on race day in the paddock. After having to drive one ('06 2500 Express Cargo 4.8) every day for 2 months and using one for work off and on ('90s E250 4.9) I wouldn't want one as a DD. If I had $/space for a dedicated tow vehicle it'd be a full-size van, no question. Considering I want a minimalist trailer, there's nothing else that will swallow gear/tools/air tanks/tires/luggage/etc. like a cargo van.

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