What's New for 2000
The 2000 Safari gets engineering enhancements for its 4.3-liter V6 and ABS components, a tow/haul mode for its four-speed automatic transmission, revised lighting and power locking functions, a larger (27-gallon) composite fuel tank, and a third-row seat as standard equipment.
Choosing between a Chevrolet Astro and a GMC Safari is more a matter of image than necessity. Tangible differences between the two are modest, a fact that's true of most Chevrolet and GMC cousins. Once you've decided that a rear-drive (or all-wheel-drive) General Motors midsize van is the rational choice, you'll likely be satisfied with either one.
Because of their traditional-type full-frame construction and standard rear-drive layout, Safaris are most adept at heavy hauling and burly trailer towing. This is one of the very few minivans (GMC calls it a midsize) on the market that can combine up to 6,000 pounds of trailering capacity with room for eight people. Not everyone will relish the trucklike ride over harsh road surfaces, but it's not bad when the highway smoothes out. Don't expect top-notch fuel mileage, though.
GM's 4300 Vortec V6 is standard, sporting a new roller timing chain and rocker arms for improved durability and reduced noise. It sends 190 horsepower and a healthy 250 pound-feet of torque to an electronically controlled, four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, equipped this year with a tow/haul mode for improved performance under loads. Long-life engine coolant and spark plugs help keep maintenance costs to a minimum. All-wheel-drive models have GM's AutoTrac transfer case, which automatically transfers power to the front axle when rear-wheel slippage is detected.
Safaris come in three trim levels, a base SL, midlevel SLE and top-of-the line SLT, with a third-row bench and eight-passenger seating standard on all three (though opting for center-row buckets cuts seating to seven). Instead of the typical minivan lift-up rear door, GMC offers right- and left-hand rear load doors, and gives you the option of choosing "dutch" doors (standard on SLT), which feature a liftglass with a split tailgate. GM's PassLock theft-deterrent system is also standard, and the OnStar mobile communications system is available as a dealer-installed option.
Dual airbags are housed in an artfully styled dashboard, and four-wheel disc/drum antilock brakes are standard. So are features such as speed-sensitive power steering, delayed interior lighting, twin under-seat rear-passenger heating ducts, overhead reading lamps, various built-in cupholders and storage bins and three power outlets (in addition to the cigarette lighter). New this year are auto-on headlamps, retained accessory power and expanded power-locking functions.
Whether your choice is simple rear-drive or full-time all-wheel drive, Safaris enjoy the rare ability to handle the kinds of towing/hauling tasks that pose problems for most front-drive minivans. And when transporting people dictates that eight is just enough, Safari is packaged to be just right.