Full 2008 GMC Savana Cargo Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 GMC Savana Cargo van has an upgraded interior. There's a new steering wheel, switchgear, instrument cluster and materials.
Full-size vans like the 2008 GMC Savana Cargo are redesigned so infrequently, a redo date of 1996 is practically fresh. Having been around for more than four decades, GMC's previous full-size van lived through the 1970s, '80s and half of the '90s via sheet metal changes and updates to the running gear. It assumed today's shape 12 years ago and to celebrate the rebirth, the van's name was changed from Rally Wagon to Savana.
A number of important under-the-skin changes took place for 2003, including a wider selection of V8 engines, the first-time availability of all-wheel drive, upgraded brakes, a stronger frame and various interior improvements -- all of which went a long way toward making the Savana safer and more capable than ever before. For 2008, the interior has been updated again with improved interior materials and switchgear.
The 2008 GMC Savana Cargo still outpaces the even older Ford Econoline and certainly warrants consideration for those in need of a cargo van. Naturally, these attributes are most often needed by small businesses and fleet operators. The European-designed and dramatically more modern Dodge Sprinter is pricier than the Savana, but its much taller interior and better road manners make it a much better work vehicle.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 GMC Savana Cargo van is a full-size van meant primarily for commercial customers. The standard wheelbase (135-inch) Savana comes in half-ton (1500), 3/4-ton (2500) and 1-ton (3500) configurations, while the extended-wheelbase version (155-inch) is available on the 2500 and 3500 series vans only. Standard equipment on the Savana Cargo includes air-conditioning, two seats, a theft deterrent system and not much else. Optional choices include swing-out passenger-side access doors (versus the standard sliding door), a passenger-side sliding door, a rear air-conditioner and heater, power windows and locks, cloth upholstery, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, keyless entry and a CD stereo. GMC is also able to outfit the Savana for job-specific cargo configurations.
Powertrains and Performance
The light-duty 2008 GMC Savana 1500 cargo van comes standard with a 4.3-liter V6 that produces 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Standard on all-wheel-drive 1500s and optional on rear-wheel models is a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 301 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Heavy-duty 2500 models come standard with a 4.8-liter V8 that makes 279 hp (258 in models with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds) and 294 lb-ft of torque. Standard on the 3500 and optional on the 2500 is a 6.0-liter V8 that makes 323 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque. Available on both heavy-duty models is a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 that produces 250 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All Savanas come with a four-speed automatic transmission. Trailer towing capacities range from 6,100 to a stout 10,000 pounds, depending on the model.
All models have antilock disc brakes as standard equipment. In frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2008 GMC Savana Cargo scored five stars (the highest possible).
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2008 GMC Savana's interior is built for pure functionality, and while it may not be pretty, it gets the job done. All controls are simple to use and well within reach of the driver, but the footwells remain as cramped as ever. Unlike the Dodge Sprinter, there is no tall roof option that allows a normal-sized person to walk upright in the cargo area. Savana buyers can opt for 60/40-split driver-side doors or dual sliding doors for easy access to the rear compartment.
A robust frame, rack-and-pinion steering (half-ton models only) and standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes give the 2008 GMC Savana respectable ride and handling characteristics. Although GMC's van is still far from nimble, it fares reasonably well in day-to-day driving. And with a pair of V8 engines to choose from, merging and passing maneuvers come easily, even when you're hauling a heavy load.