What's New for 1998
New colors, transmission enhancements, more power for the diesel engine, revised uplevel stereos and the addition of a PassLock theft-deterrent system mark the changes for 1998. A mini-module driver airbag is new, but it and the passenger airbag still deploy at full-force levels.
Believe it or not, it had been 25 years since GM redesigned its full-size van lineup when the Savana arrived in small numbers for 1996. The GMC Rally Van and Vandura were introduced in 1971, and sold steadily until the end. Competition and safety regulations forced GM to redo the big vans -- heck, since 1971 Ford had re-engineered the Club Wagon and Econoline twice! To distinguish the new design, GMC rebadged the van Savana.
Savana features flush glass and door handles, hidden door hinges, standard antilock brakes and dual airbags. Doors contain side impact guard beams, though they do not meet 1999 safety standards yet. Front foot and leg room is adequate, and front seats offer a wide range of fore and aft travel. Rear heat ducts are standard, but for better warming (and cooling) an optional rear heating and air conditioning unit is available. Front air conditioning is standard. The center console contains two cupholders, an auxiliary power outlet and storage for items like CDs and cassettes. Five sound systems are offered and uplevel units have been improved for 1998. Savana is available in base SL or luxury SLE trim levels.
New for 1998 is a steering wheel with a mini-module airbag. Rear seats receive seat belt comfort guides, while a new PassLock theft deterrent system is designed to keep thieves from absconding with the Savana. Automatic transmission refinements result in lower levels of vibration and noise.
Buyers may select either a 135-inch or a 155-inch wheelbase. There is a choice of side-entry doors as well: a sliding door or a pair of 60/40 hinged doors. Inside the short-wheelbase Savana you'll find 267 cubic feet of cargo area, while the longer wheelbase model provides a whopping 317 cubic feet of volume. Up to 15 passengers can be seated within the longer van, on as many as five bench seats. Hinged rear doors open 180 degrees for easy loading and do not conceal high-mounted taillights when opened up. Gross vehicle weight ratings of up to 9,500 pounds are available on either wheelbase.
The base engine is a Vortec 4300 V6 making 200 horsepower. Optional motors include the new GM family of V8's, ranging from the popular Vortec 5000 to the monster Vortec 7400. Also available is a newly robust turbodiesel V8 good for 195 horsepower and 430 stump-pulling ft-lbs. of torque.
Like most products in showrooms these days, the Savana's styling is rounded and bulbous, with a front end that mimics the corporate look carried by most of GM's truck family. This design should wear well into the next century.