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- Highs Excellent towing and hauling capability, decent power, highly configurable.
- Lows Truck-like ride and handling, dated interior and technology, no high-roof option.
- Verdict The Savana is a time-tested workhorse that keeps it simple and gets the job done, but it's outclassed in key areas by more modern rivals.
GMC’s Savana van, in only the third generation since its 1971 introduction, is strictly a rebadged Chevy Express and will remain so until it is replaced someday by an all-new battery electric-powered van. The full-size Savana is available in short- (135.2 inches) and long-wheelbase (155.1 inches) versions, with overall lengths of 224.3 or 243.6 inches, respectively. There is a panel version, primarily used as a commercial delivery vehicle, and a window version, for big families or shuttle use. Either is available with sliding or hinged side doors. The Savana also is available as a chassis for custom cargo “cubes” behind the cabin.
What's New for 2018?
GM’s new EcoTech 4.3-liter V-6 engine, basically the LT1 small-block 90-degree V-8 with two cylinders chopped off, is the new base engine, replacing the 4.8-liter V-8 in the Savana powertrain lineup. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Also for 2018, GM’s OnStar and rearview camera are now standard across the lineup, and blind spot monitoring is available as an option.
- Base: $32,490
- LS: $34,710
- LT: $36,535
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
In addition to the new base 276-hp 4.3-liter gas V-6, the Savana is available with a 181-hp 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline four, which like all diesels out-punches larger powertrains with its 369 pound-feet of torque. The Savana's top engine is a gasoline-powered 6.0-liter small-block V-8, rated at 329 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic comes with the new V-6, while the diesel and the gas V-8 come with a six-speed automatic. Being a large maxi-van designed to move a lot of cargo or a lot of people, there is little to say about this GMC’s handling or performance. It will launch adequately into heavy highway or freeway traffic no matter the engine choice, and its ride is reasonably smooth, though still truckish, especially if you’re a passenger sitting near the rear axle.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Savana's interior is basic, utilitarian, and somewhat dated compared to rivals. There are two single cloth seats up front in panel and chassis versions, with flat (not bucket-style) bottoms to make it easy for delivery drivers to get in and out dozens of times per workday. The gearshift is mounted on the column. Passenger-van Savanas with windows may be configured for up to 15, with leather upholstery optional. Single-pane sideview mirrors, a 220-amp generator and dual-isolated batteries also are options.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Savana's tech features start out very basic, although GM's OnStar satellite connection with Wi-Fi, is now standard on all models. Other standard features are limited to an auxiliary input and a two-speaker AM/FM stereo. Available technology includes navigation, Bluetooth, USB ports, and an upgraded sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. Although these features work well enough, the Savana trails some competitors in this area.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.