What's New for 2000
Improved powertrains, increased trailer ratings, seat-mounted tether anchors for installing child safety seats and an optional rear-window defogger mark the improvements for 2000.
When the then-new Savana arrived in small numbers for 1996, it had been 25 years since GM redesigned its full-size van. The GMC Rally Van and Vandura were introduced way back in 1971 (when vans were groovy), and sold steadily until they were discontinued. Competition and safety regulations had forced GM to redo the big vans for '96, but by then Ford had already re-engineered the Econoline twice! To help distinguish the all-new design, GMC rebadged its new van Savana.
Savana features flush glass and door handles, hidden door hinges, standard four-wheel antilock brakes and dual airbags. Front foot- and legroom is adequate, and front seats offer a wide range of travel. Front air conditioning and rear heat ducts are standard, but for better warming (and cooling), an optional rear heating and air-conditioning unit is available. The center console contains two cupholders, an auxiliary power outlet and storage for items like CDs and cassettes. Savana is available in 135- and 155-inch wheelbases, three weight series (1500, 2500 or 3500) and two (base SL and luxury SLE) trim levels. 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 extended version provides a whopping 317 cubic feet of volume with the rear seats removed. Up to 15 passengers can be seated within the longer van on as many as five bench seats. Rear hinged doors open a full 180 degrees for easy loading and do not conceal high-mounted taillights when opened. Gross vehicle weight ratings of up to 9,500 pounds are available on either wheelbase.
The base engine is a 200-horsepower Vortec 4300 V6 that is quieter and more durable this year, thanks to a new roller timing chain and rocker arms. Optional motors include the GM family of V8s, from the popular Vortec 5000, to the venerable 5700, to the monster Vortec 7400. Also available is a robust 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8 good for 195 horsepower and 430 stump-pulling pound-feet of torque. A new exhaust system with specially designed catalytic converters help all but the biggest engines meet California low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards. GM's heavy-duty 4L80-E transmission handles all the shifting chores, featuring a more efficient torque converter.
Savana's styling is rounded and bulbous, with a front end that mimics GM's truck family and a high-arched rear with D-pillar mounted taillights. Easily as odd-looking as the old Lumina minivan's high-mounted rear lamps, the round-topped rear and sheer size of this van make it seem as if you were looking at the rear of a commuter train car. Like it or not, this design is different enough to wear well into the next century.