The 2007 GMC Savana (and its twin, the Chevrolet Express) are pretty much the only game in town if you're looking for a traditional full-size van that doesn't look and drive as if it were designed two decades ago.
For the 2007 GMC Savana, the V6 engine is dropped from the lineup, as the 5.3-liter V8 becomes standard on the 1500 model. Additionally, the 2500 series 3/4-ton van is discontinued.
Having been around for more than four decades, GMC's full-size van lived through the '70s, '80s and half of the '90s via sheet metal changes and updates to the running gear. Still, it rode on the same basic platform it had used since the swinging '60s until a complete frame-up redesign took place in 1996. To celebrate the rebirth, the van's name was changed from "Rally Wagon" to "Savana." A new exterior look, new engines, extended body styles and improved ergonomics soon made the Savana hard to overlook when compared with Ford's dated Econoline. A number of important under-the-skin changes took place for 2003, including a wider selection of V8 engines, the first-time availability of all-wheel drive, upgraded brakes, a stronger frame and various interior improvements -- all of which went a long way toward making the Savana safer and more capable than ever before.
The 2007 GMC Savana still outpaces the aged Econoline and certainly warrants consideration for those who need the immense passenger capacity (up to 15 people can ride in a Savana 3500) and cargo volume only a large van can provide. Naturally, these attributes are most often needed by small businesses and fleet operators. Private individuals seeking a more economical or passenger-friendly alternative might want to consider the Dodge Sprinter.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The standard-wheelbase (135-inch) GMC Savana full-size van comes in half-ton (1500) and 1-ton (3500) configurations. The extended-wheelbase version (155-inch) is available only on the 3500. There are two trim levels: LS and LT. LS models are geared toward fleet service so standard equipment is limited to air-conditioning, an AM/FM stereo and a theft-deterrent system. The more livable LT models include auxiliary rear air-conditioning and heating, power windows and door locks, cloth upholstery, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel and keyless entry. Optional equipment includes power driver and front-passenger seats, alloy wheels and an upgraded audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine on Savana 1500 models is a 5.3-liter V8 making 295 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. A 6.0-liter V8 rated at 300 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque is standard on 3500s. All 1500 models use a four-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels, while 3500s get a heavy-duty version of that transmission. An all-wheel-drive configuration is also available for the 1500. The maximum trailer-towing capacity on 1500 models is 6,300 pounds, while the heavy-duty 3500 can pull up to 9,800 pounds when properly equipped.
All models have antilock disc brakes standard. The Savana 1500 features a front passenger-sensing system that will deactivate the front airbag if it senses a small adult or child sitting up front, while 3500 models use a manual airbag deactivation switch for the front passenger. A stability-control system is standard on the 3500 but not available on the 1500. In frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the 2007 GMC Savana scored five stars (the highest possible).
Interior Design and Special Features
The GMC's interior is built for pure functionality, and while it may not be pretty, it gets the job done. All controls are simple to use and well within reach of the driver, but the footwells remain as cramped as ever. Savana buyers can opt for 60/40-split driver-side doors for easier passenger access to the rear seats. The standard configuration seats 12, with 8- or 15-passenger arrangements also available, depending on which model you choose.
A robust frame, rack-and-pinion steering (half-ton models only) and standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes give the 2007 GMC Savana a leg up on Ford's Econoline when it comes to ride and handling. Although GMC's van is still far from nimble, it's a better choice for day-to-day driving. And with a pair of V8 engines to choose from, merging and passing maneuvers come easily, even when you're hauling a heavy load of passengers and cargo.
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