2004 Chevrolet Van Express 2500HD 8 lug 8600lb 6.0 liter from North America
Reliable van, but really sucks every other way
Leaking freeze plug in aluminum head, possibly water pump leaking now.
Extremely, extremely, extremely rough riding.
Otherwise been very reliable.
I was never a Ford fan until I owned a Chevy...
Pros: Reliable, a little more powerful than what the Ford Econoline offers.
Cons: Everything else. Horrible build quality and materials. Poor MPG, even driving like a pro with an MPG computer. Around 12-13mpg very lightly loaded.
Extremely stiff, bone jarring, harsh and noisy ride. Stressful to drive as you're constantly trying to avoid every crack and pebble on the road. Just crossing the lane dots makes me cringe and grimace.
Even spending 1200.00 on the most expensive and highest rated Michelins didn't help. Installing Sulastic spring isolation helped, but it still sucks badly compared to any used Ford Econoline from 1975 and up.
Lots of wind noise, and it buffets itself in its own wake. On a dead calm day I'm looking at the trees wondering why it's blowing the van around.
Noisy, creaky, crunchy plastic junk interior. Horrible ergonomics.
Uncomfortable as hell. Poor seats. Creaky door panels if you even touch them. Everything you touch feels cheap and like it's about to crumble. Hard, scratchy feeling door panel bulges protrude right into your knees.
Flimsy poor body and sheet metal. I had to stuff the cargo doors with insulation because the reverberation of the thin, cheap metal. It's ironic, such a flimsy, cheap, effeminate body on such an antique, WWI military chassis that must have been made from old shovels.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 10th May, 2011
Just remember, your van was built to be used/driven loaded with a huge amount of weight (you could carry the Ford van you mention) without a problem (the Ford E250 could not carry the Chev van).
The Chev Van has a very advanced frame design, and under loaded conditions it is a smooth controlled ride (safe). It should be a firm ride unloaded.
If you are looking for a car like unloaded ride quality, why are you driving a 2500HD van, and with a 6 liter engine and low rear end gearing to haul loads?
Go to a Chevy 1500 1/2 ton van with V6 engine for a smooth unloaded ride and 20+MPG.
Tip. Your odometer may not be correct if you purchased a used van (a lot are). The average transmission in your van should not have the problem you describe if at all until 300.000 miles of hard work. Look for signs of delivery service lettering, worn arm rests and seats etc. You did mention the seat had little support. They are great seats until they get worn... you may have a high mileage delivery 300+ van.
These vans hold up VERY well, so you really have to look for wear. One of my customers has your identical van with 700.000 on it now, and you would not know it! (same engine and transmission untouched)