Cousin to the Chevrolet Express, the full-size GMC Savana has long been a mainstay of the commercial van segment. For some buyers, private as well as commercial, nothing other than a traditional van with a large engine and big body will suffice.
These rear-wheel-drive vans come in two forms: for hauling cargo, or carrying a dozen or so people. Using heavy-duty truck underpinnings, a Savana is more capable than almost any other work vehicle. The Savana 3500 is the heaviest-duty model; a 2500 also is available.
What's New for 2016
Only a few equipment changes have been made, led by standard OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity, with a Wi-Fi hotspot that can provide a mobile hub. New options include GMC IntelliLink with navigation radio, single-pane side-view mirrors, a 220-amp generator, and dual isolated battery system. Six airbags are standard, including seat-mounted thorax protection. Cargo vans gain a digital AM/FM radio with MP3 player.
Choosing Your GMC Savana 3500
The Savana 3500 comes in two essential forms: a basic cargo van and a more plushly equipped passenger van.
Both come on either regular or extended wheelbases, with either a 4.8-liter V8 that makes 285 horsepower or a 342-horsepower 6-liter V8.
You can also get a Duramax diesel-engine model rated at 260 horsepower and 525 pound-feet of torque. The diesel van has much greater hauling capacity (up to 10,000 pounds), but adds almost $13,000 to the price.
On the cargo van, features are restricted to basic creature comforts. Passenger models can be had with some additional niceties. Still, in any form, the Savana is no luxury cruiser.
The diesel option probably doesn't make much sense, given its hefty price tag and excessive fuel consumption; but the relatively modest $995 for the uplevel 6-liter V8 could be justified. Option with care, though. A Savana can grow quite expensive, and no selection of features will transform it into a luxurious work vehicle or a comfortable people-hauler. That's not the mission of any full-size van.
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