1996 GMC Safari Review

Used Safari for sale
List Price Estimate:$654 - $1,138
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Choosing between an Astro and a Safari is more a matter of image than necessity. Do you want to see Chevrolet's badge every time you approach? Or would it be viscerally satisfying to face those bold "GMC" block letters, with their implication of long-haul trucking--or even rough living. Climbing aboard either one demands a high step upward, enhancing the impression of entering a truck, not a car.

Tangible differences between the two are modest--a fact that's true of most Chevrolet and GMC cousins. Once you've decided that a rear-drive (or all-wheel-drive) General Motors midsize van is the rational choice, you'll likely be satisfied with either one.

Because of their traditional-type full-frame construction and rear-drive layout, Safaris (and Astros) are most adept at heavy hauling and burly trailer-towing. Not everyone will relish the truck-like ride over harsh surfaces, but it's not bad at all when the highway smoothes out. Don't expect top-notch fuel mileage, though.

Front ends earned a facelift last year. This year, the interior is all-new. Dual airbags are housed in an artfully styled dashboard complete with analog gauges and improved switchgear. Integrated child safety seats are available for the center bench seat, and the sliding door gets a child safety lock. Rear seat heat ducts direct warm air to freezing rear passengers, improved storage compartments, and new audio systems make the Safari far more livable, and modern, than before.

One slick feature sure to be appreciated by the parents of teenagers is the middle radio option. The driver and front passenger can listen to Casey Kasem up front, or nothing at all, while Junior blasts the local alternative music station into his eardrums via a set of headphone jacks that plugs into a separate radio unit in the center row. This option alone is worth the savings in family therapy, don't you think?

GM's improved 4300 Vortec V6 is now standard, sending 190 horsepower to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Long-life engine coolant and 100,000-mile spark plugs are new this year.

Safaris come in three trim levels. The FE2 touring suspension option has stiffer shocks, a rear stabilizer bar, and grabby Goodyear rubber for a firmer, controlled ride. Eight-passenger seating is now standard in Safaris with SLE or SLT trim, and available in the base (SLX) rendition. Whether rear-drive or running full-time all-wheel drive, Safaris serve the muscular tasks that a front-drive minivan just cannot handle--yet convey a family in a fashion that won't produce pangs of pain.

1996 Highlights

An all-new interior debuts with dual airbags, more leg- and foot room, and a host of other features. Important among them are the availability of dual-integrated child seats and a child-proof lock on the right-side sliding door. Under-seat heat ducts help warm the rear passengers, and new audio systems include a radio that can be tuned independently by rear-seat passengers without disturbing the listening pleasure, or program, that the front occupants are enjoying.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 GMC Safari.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.63 out of 5 stars
Great Van
SLX 3dr Minivan
This van has been great I have 0ver 250000 miles and other than upkeep maintenance I’ve had no issues. Yes I’ve had to replace tires, breaks, hoses, belts, and so on but never any thing major. The electric windows work fine. I would highly recommend this van to anyone with kids it is a great traveling van.
3.63 out of 5 stars
1996 Safari Van
SLE 3dr Minivan
These vans have several problems. Power window motors fail often, switches in Safaris also have several failures. Besides the little annoying items, that most people avoid repairing because of such a high cost. The vehicle has been reliable.
2.75 out of 5 stars
piece o' crap
SLE 3dr Minivan AWD
i paid 3000 dollars for mine in 2006, since then ive put almost 3000 into keeping it running. 1 cooling fan, 2 alternators, 1 fuel pump, 1 fuel filter, 1 fuel line, 4 new tires, brakes(all of them), two window motors, 1 windshield wiper motor, 2 starters, and 1 right front ball axle joint. the cigarette lighter is broken, a/c has major leak(doesnt work), locks freeze easy in the winter(ohio), rear defrost and heat dont work, rear door handle broke and doesnt latch shut. no way would i ever tell anyone to consider buying this van, in fact if you see one on the road look away, chances are something might go wrong on Your car!
3.63 out of 5 stars
Good but not Great
Steven 10/10/10,10/15/2010
SLE 3dr Minivan
Towed a pop-up camper across country several times, and camping every summer, w 5-6 people. But u gotta tow in 3rd gear because of trans calibration. Full size trailer several trips. All the electrical problems others mentioned, ww and window motors (one side twice), alt, fuel pump, blower mtr, radiator, a/c compressor $1200, water pump, 4 idler arms, tire life not good, rear dutch door handle completely rusted off, needs injectors cleaned, otherwise engine and trans run good


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 GMC Safari

Used 1996 GMC Safari Overview

The Used 1996 GMC Safari is offered in the following submodels: Safari Minivan. Available styles include SLE 3dr Minivan AWD, SLT 3dr Minivan, SLE 3dr Minivan, SLX 3dr Minivan, SLT 3dr Minivan AWD, SLX 3dr Minivan AWD, 3dr Minivan, and 3dr Minivan AWD. Pre-owned GMC Safari models are available with a 4.3 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 190 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 GMC Safari comes with all wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 GMC Safari?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1996 GMC Safaris are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1996 GMC Safari for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1996 GMC Safari.

Can't find a used 1996 GMC Safaris you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used GMC Safari for sale - 10 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $16,105.

Find a used GMC for sale - 3 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $10,354.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC Safari for sale - 11 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $8,170.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC for sale - 4 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $13,826.

Should I lease or buy a 1996 GMC Safari?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out GMC Safari lease specials