Used 1999 GMC Savana Review
Believe it or not, it had been 25 years since GM redesigned its full-size van lineup when the Savana arrived in small numbers for 1996. The GMC Rally Van and Vandura were introduced in 1971, and sold steadily until they were discontinued. Competition and safety regulations had forced GM to redo the big vans in 1996 -- heck, since 1971 Ford had re-engineered the Club Wagon and Econoline twice! To distinguish the new design, GMC rebadged the van Savana.
Savana features flush glass and door handles, hidden door hinges, standard antilock brakes and dual airbags. Front foot and legroom is adequate, and front seats offer a wide range of travel. Rear heat ducts are standard, but for better warming (and cooling), an optional rear heating and air conditioning unit is available. Front air conditioning is standard. The center console contains two cupholders, an auxiliary power outlet and storage for items like CDs and cassettes. Savana is available in 135- and 155-inch wheelbases, three weight series (1500, 2500 or 3500) and two (base SL and luxury SLE) trim levels. There is a choice of side-entry doors as well: a sliding door or a pair of 60/40 hinged doors.
Inside the short-wheelbase Savana, you'll find 267 cubic feet of cargo area, while the extended version provides a whopping 317 cubic feet of volume with the rear seats removed. Up to 15 passengers can be seated within the longer van on as many as five bench seats. Rear hinged doors open 180 degrees for easy loading and do not conceal high-mounted taillights when opened. Gross vehicle weight ratings of up to 9,500 pounds are available on either wheelbase.
The base engine is a Vortec 4300 V6 making 200 horsepower. Optional motors include the GM family of V8's, ranging from the popular Vortec 5000 to the monster Vortec 7400. Also available is a robust 6.5-liter turbo-diesel V8 good for 195 horsepower and 430 stump-pulling foot-pounds of torque.
Automatic transmission refinements result in lower levels of vibration and noise. These refinements include a two-piece transmission case that provides powertrain stiffness, software that compares engine/vehicle operating parameters and sets precise transmission line pressure, a deep oil pan which aids durability and fluid life, and an electrically controlled converter clutch which increases fuel economy.
Two new exterior colors, Fernmist Green Metallic and Dark Bronzemist Metallic, and one new interior color, Medium Dark Pewter, are available for 1999. Like most products in showrooms these days, the Savana's styling is rounded and bulbous, with a front end that mimics the corporate look carried by most of GM's truck family. This design should wear well into the next century.
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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.
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