Full 2014 GMC Savana Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the GMC Savana Passenger van has a newly optional CNG (compressed natural gas)-powered 6.0-liter V8 engine. Otherwise, it is essentially unchanged.
If moving more than a baker's dozen worth of passengers is a requirement for your next vehicle, then you might consider the 2014 GMC Savana Passenger. A traditional full-size van, the Savana could be just right for a small company, a little league team or a really large family. Depending on which body style you select, this GMC can transport anywhere from eight to 15 passengers or be used to tow nearly 10,000 pounds when properly equipped.
Direct rivals to the Savana are few, and include its virtually identical Chevy Express cousin and the 2014 Ford E-Series Wagon. Their basic architecture is similar (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 powerful diesel V8. Available all-wheel drive is another plus.
But if you're willing to break with tradition, a couple of other choices offer compelling advantages. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers superior maneuverability, refinement and fuel economy. Yes, it's priced higher but it also offers a high-roof option that opens up significantly more space for adults to walk upright inside the van. There's also the 2014 Nissan NV, which also has a high-top roof option plus a more modern design than the GMC. You could also consider the 2014 Ram ProMaster, which is a new Fiat-built van offering plenty of interior room.
The 2014 GMC Savana is part of a vehicle lineup that was last redesigned nearly two decades ago. As such, this passenger van is undeniably dated compared with those aforementioned, more modern and more space-efficient rivals. Still, GMC's capable workhorse represents a viable and affordable option for those who need to transport large groups of people and maybe even tow a heavy trailer, too.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 GMC Savana is a full-size passenger van offered in basic LS and well-equipped LT trim levels. There are three different load ratings available: 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 and 3500. All three are offered in the standard-wheelbase (135 inches) configuration, which seats between eight and 12 passengers. The extended-wheelbase (155 inches) model, which can seat up to 15 passengers, is only available in the 3500 series.
Base LS models come with 16- or 17-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, passenger-side swing-out doors, full power accessories, front air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery, rubber floor covering, OnStar and a two-speaker AM/FM sound system.
The LT trim adds chrome exterior trim, keyless entry, rear air-conditioning and heating, cloth upholstery, full-length carpeting, cruise control, a trip computer, a tilt-only steering wheel and visor vanity mirrors.
Many of the LT's standard features are also available as options on the LS model. Other major options include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a sliding side door, a towing package, six-way power front seats, remote ignition, Bluetooth, a navigation system and an upgraded sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod interface and satellite radio. Also available is a rearview camera with a display mounted either inside the rearview mirror or on the navigation system's screen (if so equipped).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 GMC Savana offers no fewer than five different powertrains.
The 1500 series features a 5.3-liter V8 engine making 310 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque, backed by a four-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional. The EPA's estimated fuel economy with either drivetrain is 14 mpg combined (13 city/17 highway).
The rear-drive-only 2500 and 3500 series get a standard 4.8-liter V8 with 285 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A 6.0-liter V8 engine generating 342 hp and 373 lb-ft is optional, as is a CNG-powered 6.0-liter V8 that makes 282 hp and 320 lb-ft. All these engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy with the 4.8-liter is 13 mpg combined (11 city/17 highway) in the 2500 and 3500, while the 6.0-liter gas engine earns 13 mpg combined (11/16) in the 2500 and 12 mpg combined (11/16) in the 3500.
The 3500 series additionally offers an optional turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 (also matched to a six-speed automatic) that puts out 260 hp and 525 lb-ft. The diesel engine is the more fuel-efficient engine of the two big V8s, but mpg estimates are not available because the EPA doesn't rate vehicles that weigh more than 6,000 pounds.
Properly equipped, a Savana 3500 can tow a maximum of 10,000 pounds.
All 2014 GMC Savana passenger vans come fitted with antilock brakes, side curtain airbags and stability control as standard equipment. A rear vision camera, rear parking sensors and OnStar emergency communications are available as options.
Interior Design and Special Features
Eight passengers can sit in the standard 1500-series Savana vans, while 12 people can fit in the standard 2500 and 3500 models. The long-wheelbase version of the 3500 can be fitted with an extra bench seat, which allows it to carry 15 people.
Controls are simple and easy to use, but there is a lot of hard plastic trim, and even basic features like carpeting are left on the options list. Legroom for the driver and front passenger is limited by the engine cowling that sticks out from the dashboard. Rear legroom is sufficient, but the standard roof height makes it hard for those in the back to get in and out without ducking.
Although the full-size passenger van class is a small one, the 2014 GMC Savana doesn't quite meet the current standards set by the Sprinter and NV. While the Savana is certainly capable of moving large groups of people given its strong available V8 engines, it's not as civilized to drive around town, as it doesn't steer, handle or ride as well as those two rivals. It's not a bad choice if cost is the primary consideration, but this van feels outdated, especially in crowded urban environments where it will likely spend most of its working life.