1997 GMC Safari Review

Used Safari for sale
List Price Estimate:$728 - $1,266
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Big inside but small outside, torquey V-6 engine, dual airbags, standard ABS, available all-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy, aging design, intrusive engine cover

Vehicle overview

Choosing between a Chevrolet Astro and a GMC 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, as brand managers hope, of upscale luxury?

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 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.

Dual airbags are housed in an artfully styled dashboard, and antilock brakes are standard. For added safety and visibility, daytime running lights have been installed this year. Integrated child safety seats are available for the center bench seat, and the sliding door has a child safety lock. Rear seat heat ducts direct warm air to freezing rear passengers. For 1997, SLT models can be equipped with leather seats, and Safaris with SLE or SLT trim offer an optional HomeLink three-channel transmitter. Illuminated entry lighting is a new standard feature for all Safari passenger vans.

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 4300 Vortec V6 is standard, sending 190 horsepower to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Long-life engine coolant and 100,000-mile spark plugs help keep maintenance costs to a minimum. This year brings transmission refinements that result in smoother shifts and improved efficiency, and all-wheel drive models get new plug-in half shafts that improve serviceability and save weight. Speed-sensitive power steering now makes parking the Safari easier.

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 standard in Safaris with SLE or SLT trim, and available in the base SLX rendition. Two new colors are available for 1997, and the remote keyless entry key fob is redesigned.

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.

1997 Highlights

Illuminated entry and daytime running lights debut this year, along with a couple of new colors and automatic transmission improvements. SLT models can be equipped with leather seating, and a HomeLink three-channel transmitter is optional. Speed-sensitive power steering makes parking easier.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 GMC Safari.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.63 out of 5 stars
SLT 3dr Minivan
I got this van in the summer of 2007 with 69000 miles on it, RAN GREAT was my daily ride. I drive over 100 miles a day and in 2010 the fuel pump problem happened with my van as well. We replaced it and it still is not running right, so it has been parked for over a year now for the day I have the money to take it in because I really do not want to give up the van. Also there is a clunking sound when you take off. Still love the van..
2.38 out of 5 stars
electrical hell
Rick Earl,09/11/2002
SLE 3dr Minivan
This vehicle has been expensive to operate. It had electrical problems from the start. It continues to eat fuses like candy. The lighter, fuel gauge, and power windows have not worked in 2 years. Its on its 4th battery and 3rd set of front brakes. The front end wears tires quickly, even with it properly aligned. In short buyer beware. There is very little head or leg room in the front seats.
3.38 out of 5 stars
Another Love/Hate realationship
SLT 3dr Minivan AWD
When I bought my Safari it had 45,000 miles on it. Around 130,000 my brakes finally wore down and I got new ones. Around 140,000 miles my power steering pump blew and I bought a new one. Around 145,000 miles my a/c and heat stopped working with the exception of a warm defrost. The 2nd heat censor blew. Then, around 160,000 my fuel pump died on me. Now it is sitting in my driveway waiting for a new coil because that blew about 3 days ago ( 173,000 miles). It has been a workhorse, a family vehicle and more. I love the Safari, and until 130,000 miles it never failed me. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested. As long as you keep it maintained as you would expect from any verhicle.
5 out of 5 stars
My safari
SLE 3dr Minivan
Love everything about it but it has become difficult for me to get in and out of it because of my short legs and arthrities.


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 1997 GMC Safari

Used 1997 GMC Safari Overview

The Used 1997 GMC Safari is offered in the following submodels: Safari Minivan. Available styles include SLT 3dr Minivan AWD, SLE 3dr Minivan AWD, SLE 3dr Minivan, SLX 3dr Minivan, SLX 3dr Minivan AWD, and SLT 3dr Minivan. 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 1997 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 1997 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 1997 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) 1997 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 1997 GMC Safari.

Can't find a used 1997 GMC Safaris you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used GMC Safari for sale - 6 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $10,626.

Find a used GMC for sale - 1 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $23,297.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC Safari for sale - 10 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $14,183.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC for sale - 2 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $17,812.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 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