What's New for 2010
The 2010 GMC Savana Cargo gets a remote vehicle start option, and all three gasoline V8s receive variable valve timing (with slight power bumps for the 4.8 and 5.3) and "flex-fuel" E85 compatibility. Additionally, 2500 and 3500 models get a new six-speed automatic transmission with revised rear axles.
Though it's getting on in years, the GMC Savana Cargo is still a pretty good work van. Like its twin, the Chevrolet Express, the Savana has seen numerous changes over its lengthy lifespan. A banner year was 2003, when a wider array of V8 engines debuted along with available all-wheel drive, upgraded brakes, a stronger frame and various interior improvements. The interior materials and switchgear were also tweaked two years ago, though they're still pretty cheesy. For 2010, the Savana Cargo gets useful powertrain upgrades like variable valve timing and E85 compatibility for its gasoline V8s and a new six-speed transmission for 2500 and 3500 models.
The 2010 GMC Savana Cargo will likely get the job done for those who need its prodigious capabilities. There are a few other choices to consider, however. The Mercedes-built Dodge Sprinter -- reclaimed by the Germans as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for 2010 -- is frankly a superior vehicle, thanks to its taller roof, better road manners and superior fuel economy. But it is also more expensive and has a lower-output diesel V6 as its sole engine choice. On the other end of the spectrum is the Ford Econoline, which has lasted even longer than the Savana since its last redesign. It's basically the same size as the Savana, but both of the Ford's 1500 engines offer significantly less power than the GMC's base 5.3-liter V8.
Should you not need all the space provided by full-size vans like the Savana, the new Ford Transit Connect is also worth a look. But thanks to its strong engines and multiple configurations, we think most contractors or business owners will be quite pleased with a 2010 Savana for their full-size cargo van needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 GMC Savana Cargo 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 remote vehicle start, 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 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 310 hp and 334 lb-ft of torque. Heavy-duty 2500 models are powered by a 4.8-liter V8 that makes 280 hp and 296 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 gasoline V8s can also run on E85.
The Savana Cargo 1500 comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the 2500 and 3500 models get a six-speed unit. Trailer towing capacities when properly equipped range from 6,200 to a stout 9,900 pounds, depending on the model. EPA fuel economy estimates for a Savana Cargo 1500 with the 5.3-liter V8 are 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
All 2010 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 there's no attempt at style. The front footwells are notably cramped. 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 2010 GMC Savana Cargo respectable ride and handling characteristics for an enormous utility vehicle. However, the Sprinter is more agile and maneuverable, and the Transit Connect is practically a sports car by comparison. With a selection of strong V8 engines to choose from, the Savana Cargo makes quick work of merging and passing maneuvers, even when you're hauling a heavy load.