The 2009 GMC Savana Cargo receives no notable changes other than an available "fast idle" option for the 6.0-liter V8, which supposedly facilitates the use of accessories while the vehicle is idling.
In full-size-van years, 13 is on the young side. That's how long it's been since the GMC Savana Cargo last received a full redesign, which makes it considerably younger than the hoary Ford Econoline. As such, we're not going to give GMC a hard time for letting its full-sizer stand pat for this model year. The 2009 GMC Savana Cargo does just about everything a big work van should, lacking only the Dodge Sprinter's tall-roof option and superior fuel economy.
As with its twin, the Chevrolet Express, the Savana has received numerous updates over the years. Notably, 2003 saw the arrival of a wider array of V8 engines, available all-wheel drive, upgraded brakes, a stronger frame and various interior improvements. Though the interior materials and switchgear are still nothing to write home about, they did receive some refinements last year. Short of a complete overhaul, the 2009 GMC Savana Cargo is about as good as the General's full-size van is going to get.
Beasts of burden like the Savana Cargo are ideal for those who want to ferry around large amounts of stuff without going all-out and buying an 18-wheeler. As such, the Savana Cargo is a logical choice for businesspeople with heavy-duty hauling needs. Bear in mind that the more modern Dodge Sprinter is a superior vehicle, thanks to its taller roof, better road manners and superior fuel efficiency. It's more expensive, though, so if you don't want to break the bank, the Savana Cargo is fully up to the task.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 GMC Savana Cargo van is a full-size van intended primarily for commercial use. The standard wheelbase (135-inch) Savana Cargo 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. Among the options are 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. The Savana Cargo can also be outfitted for job-specific cargo configurations.
Powertrains and Performance
The light-duty GMC Savana Cargo 1500 van comes 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-drive models is a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 301 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Heavy-duty 2500 models are powered by a 4.8-liter V8 that makes 279 hp (258 in models with a gross vehicle weight rating 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 Savana Cargos 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 2009 GMC Savana Cargos have antilock disc brakes as standard equipment. In frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the GMC Savana scored a perfect five stars for driver and front passenger protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The GMC Savana Cargo's interior is built for functionality, not fashion. All controls are simple to use and well within reach of the driver, but they're far from stylish. The front footwells remain as cramped as ever. Unlike the Sprinter, the Savana Cargo lacks a tall-roof option that allows a normal-sized person to walk upright in the cargo area. Savana Cargo buyers can opt for 60/40-split driver-side doors or dual sliding doors for easy access to the rear compartment. Standard-length vans have a maximum cargo capacity of 204 cubic feet, while extended-length vans check in with a voluminous 237 cubic feet of space.
A robust frame, rack-and-pinion steering (half-ton models only) and standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes give the 2009 GMC Savana Cargo respectable ride and handling characteristics. With a selection of strong V8 engines to choose from, merging and passing maneuvers are easily accomplished, even when you're hauling a heavy load. As full-size vans go, the Savana Cargo is pleasant to pilot -- just don't expect it to match the European-style driving dynamics of the Sprinter.