Used 2016 GMC Savana Cargo Van Review

Edmunds expert review

The 2016 GMC Savana Cargo is a willing workhorse, but more modern and capable competitors could be a better fit for your business.




What's new for 2016

The 2016 GMC Savana Cargo van receives a few new features, most notably front-seat side airbags and an available touchscreen display with navigation.

Vehicle overview

The 2016 GMC Savana Cargo is certainly a proven choice for van buyers who require a no-nonsense work vehicle. Thanks to its strong gasoline and diesel V8s, the Savana excels at towing and hauling heavy loads. If the utmost in towing or payload capacity isn't the primary requirement for your next cargo van, however, you may find that newer vans with space-optimizing designs and improved fuel efficiency are a better choice.

These newer rivals generally come with a choice of a high-roof body style to maximize interior cargo space and make it much easier to move around inside, and in some cases, even stand upright to work. With the Savana, you're stuck with a traditional van profile. The Savana also lacks the refinement and easy-driving nature of its rivals.

Chief among them are the 2016 Ford Transit and 2016 Ram ProMaster cargo vans. Like the Savana, they offer a choice of gasoline or diesel engines (albeit four-cylinders and V6s instead of V8s) and multiple roof height configurations, and they generally return better fuel economy. You'll find excellent maneuverability and road manners with the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or its smaller cousin, the new Metris. Another viable modern van to consider is the 2016 Nissan NV.

For buyers just wanting the basics, though, the 2016 GMC Savana Cargo van remains a solid option, especially if you want the market's mightiest diesel. It's not the most fuel-efficient option nor is it as refined, but it's likely to cost you less up front, potentially making it a bargain.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 GMC Savana Cargo is a two-seat, full-size van that comes in two load ratings, the 2500 series and 3500 series. Each comes in two wheelbases: a standard wheelbase of 135 inches and an extended 155-inch wheelbase.

Standard equipment on the Savana Cargo includes 16-inch steel wheels, 60/40-split swing-out right-side doors, air-conditioning, power windows and locks, a 120-volt accessory outlet, vinyl upholstery and a two-speaker AM/FM radio with the ability to play MP3 files.

Major options include heated power mirrors, a variety of rear door and window configurations, a towing package, rear parking sensors, keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, front passenger seat delete, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, remote ignition, rear auxiliary heater, rear air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, GM's OnStar telematics service, a USB port and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with navigation and satellite radio.



Performance & mpg

The 2016 GMC Savana Cargo van is sold with a choice of two gasoline V8 engines and a diesel V8.

Starting the engine lineup is a 4.8-liter V8 that develops 285 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Next up is a 6.0-liter gasoline V8 that churns out 329 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque; a compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled version of the 6.0-liter V8 puts out 282 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Both engines send power to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

For regular towing, you'll want to pick the turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 rated at 260 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque. It also is backed by the six-speed automatic transmission.

When properly equipped, both the Savana 2500 and Savana 3500 vans have a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds. Payload capacities range from almost 3,000 pounds to 4,145 pounds for the standard-wheelbase Savana Cargo 3500.

Safety

All 2016 GMC Savana Cargo vans have antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags as standard equipment. A rearview camera, rear parking sensors and OnStar emergency communications are available as options.

Driving

Given its traditional body-on-frame architecture, the 2016 GMC Savana Cargo van handles much like a truck. It is not in any way nimble, but its strong engines get it moving without a fuss, and the automatic transmission is smooth with gearchanges. Newer rival vans are likely to deliver better fuel economy, but if sheer hauling power is needed, the GMC's 6.0-liter V8 and the even stronger 6.6-liter diesel V8 are about the best you'll encounter. The diesel engine generates the most torque in the van segment by a comfortable margin.

If torque for towing and hauling is not your overriding concern and you'll be using your van more for local deliveries in urban areas, you'll want to look at competitors like the Transit or Sprinter, which are noticeably more maneuverable in tight spaces.

Interior

The GMC Savana Cargo van's most limiting factor is the fact that it's only available with a standard roof height. High-roof versions of competitor vans are better choices whether you plan on working from the back of your van or just storing more cargo. Apart from that, the Savana's interior is simple and straightforward, with little in the way of trim or other garnish, and finishes are geared toward durability.

You'll find no surprises with the traditional gauges and controls. The wide engine cowling severely restricts legroom for the driver and passenger seats, which is a common annoyance in traditional American vans. Basic amenities such as power mirrors and remote keyless entry are optional, and we'd consider the convenience package, which provides a tilt steering wheel and cruise control, a necessity if the Savana will be used for long-distance travel.

The standard-wheelbase Savana has a maximum of 239.7 cubic feet of cargo space; the long-wheelbase model bumps total capacity to 284.4 cubic feet. Rival high-roof vans can hold considerably more, however. A hinged second side door on the passenger side of the Savana is standard, with a sliding door as an option. There is no available second door on the driver side, which might limit utility for some businesses.

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.