Full 2014 GMC Savana Cargo Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the GMC Savana Cargo van is essentially unchanged.
Few vehicles embody the term "beast of burden" as well as the 2014 GMC Savana Cargo van. This traditional full-size cargo van from GMC provides nearly 300 cubic feet of space for tools or products. It also offers a variety of powerful engine choices and boasts substantial towing capacity. So yes, it has the basic requirements nailed down. But compared with more modern rivals, there's no escaping the fact that the Savana was last redesigned nearly two decades ago and lags behind in key areas.
Among traditional full-size vans, the Savana (and its twin, the Chevy Express) fares well. It's similar in design to the 2014 Ford E-Series (in either case, we're talking about a large, snub-nosed box on wheels) but the GM vans offer more engine choices, including a compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered V8 as well as a torque-rich diesel-powered V8.
More compelling than either domestic-brand van, though, are newer competitors such as the 2014 Nissan NV, which offers a high-roof option that increases maximum cargo capacity beyond that of the Savana and allows you to walk around inside the van without stooping. The more expensive 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has a much more fuel-efficient (but not nearly as potent) diesel engine and, like the Nissan, boasts a high-roof option as well as superior driving characteristics. There's also the new 2014 Ram ProMaster, which is based on a full-size Fiat van from Europe.
If you don't need such cavernous cargo capacity, you might consider a smaller, light-duty van such as the 2014 Ford Transit Connect or Nissan NV200. Although they can't carry nearly as much weight as the big vans, their considerably smaller sizes provide better fuel mileage and make them more maneuverable on crowded streets as well as easier to park.
Of course, by virtue of its size and strong available diesel engine, the 2014 GMC Savana Cargo van still does the job as a traditional work van. But unless purchase price or the availability of a diesel V8 is paramount, we suggest also considering newer competitors that offer more versatility and refinement.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 GMC Savana Cargo is a full-size van that's offered in two wheelbases and three load ratings. The standard-wheelbase model (135 inches) is available in a base 1500 version as well as heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 variants. The extended-wheelbase version (155 inches) is only offered on 2500 and 3500 models.
Standard equipment on the GMC Savana Cargo includes 16-inch steel wheels, 60/40-split swing-out right-side doors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, vinyl upholstery and a trip computer.
Major options include 17-inch steel wheels, heated power mirrors, 60/40-split swing-out driver-side doors, a sliding passenger-side door, a variety of rear door and window configurations, a towing package, rear parking sensors, keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, front passenger seat delete, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, remote ignition, Bluetooth phone connectivity, OnStar emergency communications, a simple two-speaker AM/FM sound system and an upgraded system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. A navigation system and a rearview camera are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 GMC Savana Cargo van has six available engines.
The base rear-wheel-drive 1500 models come with a 4.3-liter V6, which produces 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This engine is standard on rear-wheel-drive 1500 models and comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. The EPA's fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway). A 5.3-liter V8 good for 310 hp and 334 lb-ft of torque is standard on all-wheel-drive 1500 models and is available as an option on rear-wheel-drive 1500s. A four-speed automatic is standard. Fuel economy with this engine and rear-wheel drive is 14 mpg combined (13 city/17 highway).
The rear-drive-only 2500 and 3500 come standard with a 4.8-liter V8 that produces 285 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed automatic transmission. There are several optional engines from here, and all use a six-speed automatic. A gasoline-fueled 6.0-liter V8 puts out 342 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque. Another version of the 6.0-liter V8 runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and produces 282 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Finally, a turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 is rated at 260 hp and a robust 525 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates are not available for these heavy-duty vans, because the EPA doesn't rate vehicles over 6,000 pounds.
When properly equipped, the Savana has a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.
All 2014 GMC Savana Cargo vans have antilock brakes and stability control as standard equipment. Side curtain airbags, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and OnStar emergency communications are available as options.
Interior Design and Special Features
Utility is what's important on the inside of a GMC Savana Cargo. The dashboard and other plastic surfaces are hard and not of especially high quality, but controls are simple and easy to use. However, legroom up front is limited by the engine cowling sticking out from the center of the dash. Conveniences like power mirrors and a tilt steering wheel are optional, in keeping with the GMC's basic work van mission.
Primed for cargo, the Savana provides 239 cubic feet of space on the standard-wheelbase model (just 2 cubic feet more than the Ford E-Series van). The long-wheelbase Savana Cargo provides 284 cubes. However, no tall-roof option is available, nor is a driver-side sliding cargo door, as is offered on some other vans.
Other than affordable pricing, the best reason to consider the 2014 GMC Savana Cargo van is its strong V8 engine lineup. The ProMaster and Sprinter might have a leg up on fuel mileage, but the GMC's available 6.6-liter diesel V8 has the highest torque rating in this class, so it's a good way to go if you're dealing with heavy loads.
In other respects, though, the 2014 GMC Savana falls short of more modern work vans. Compared to the Sprinter and the NV, it doesn't steer or handle as well, and these shortcomings will be especially apparent to drivers trying to maneuver their vans in crowded urban environments.