Used 2001 GMC Safari Cargo Review

Edmunds expert review

A workhorse minivan that leaves refinement to the other guys.




What's new for 2001

Safari gets still more engineering enhancements for its 4.3-liter V6, and higher-output alternators. Door locks have been improved for increased security and programmable locks solve an annoying self-locking problem in last year's models.

Vehicle overview

Because of their traditional full-frame construction and standard rear-drive layout, Safaris are most adept at heavy hauling and burly trailer towing. This is one of the very few minivans (GMC calls it a midsize) on the market that offers over 6,000 pounds of trailering capacity making it suitable for fleet use. The Cargo Van model is offered with a stripped-out interior ready for upfitting into a workhorse service van -- complete with tool racks or parts bins. Not everyone will relish the truck-like ride over harsh road surfaces, but it's not bad when the highway smoothes out. Don't expect top-notch fuel mileage, though, despite a continually improved powertrain. All-wheel drive is optional providing superior traction for companies who can't have their trucks stranded when the weather gets ugly.

GM's 4300 Vortec V6 is standard, sporting more durable camshaft bearings, a lighter starter that requires less current from the battery to crank the engine and a new, more advanced powertrain control module. The 4.3-liter sends 190 horsepower and a healthy 250 foot-pounds of torque to an electronically controlled, four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, equipped with a tow-haul mode for improved performance under loads. Long-life engine coolant and spark plugs help keep maintenance costs to a minimum.

New for this year is a Safari cargo van that meets national low-emission vehicle standards. Companies looking to reduce the environmental impact of their numerous fleet trucks can now do so without losing the versatility and toughness that Safari provides. Dual airbags are housed in an artfully styled dashboard, and four-wheel disc/drum antilock brakes are standard. So are features such as speed-sensitive power steering, delayed interior lighting, overhead reading lamps, various built-in cupholders and storage bins, and three power outlets.

Insiders say that Safari's days (and those of its Chevy Astro sister) are numbered. But for now, whether your choice is simple rear-drive or full-time all-wheel drive, Safaris are still the smart choice for anyone looking for a tough minivan that doesn't squirm when faced with some heavy-duty hauling and towing.






Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.