2017 GMC Savana

2017 GMC Savana Review

The GMC Savana Passenger is largely uncompetitive against the best passenger vans on the market.
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Full-size passenger vans are the perfect choice if you're looking to transport a large number of people, whether you're a business owner who needs to shuttle customers around or the parent in a family so large that it won't fit in a traditional minivan. The 2017 GMC is a possible option for you, with versatile seating arrangements for up to 15 passengers. But considering this van's numerous drawbacks and the availability of more qualified rivals in this field, we suggest you look elsewhere.

The primary knock against the Savana Passenger is its age. Though it has undergone minor interior and exterior refreshes over the years, today's Savana is nearly identical to the first examples that rolled off the production line in 1996. All other competitors have been fully redesigned since then.

The Savana truly looks and drives as if it competes with a kind of vehicle that no longer exists. Rival vans also offer high-roof variants to aid passenger ingress and egress and are generally more pleasant to drive. While used parts availability and an established track record might be potential draws, it's difficult to recommend the GMC Savana Passenger given the strength of the competition and lack of competitive advantage.

What's new for 2017

The optional diesel V8 has been replaced by a four-cylinder diesel. The compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel conversion option is no longer available. Otherwise, the Savana Passenger carries forward unchanged.

We recommend

Which of the multiple 2017 GMC Savana Passenger models you should get depends on your transportation needs. If you intend to regularly fill the van with people or tow a trailer, consider the 3500 for its increased capabilities. If you need an additional row of seats, check out the extended-wheelbase 3500. But we think the regular-wheelbase 3500 will be suitable for most buyers. The LT trim's reasonable price point and increased feature content make it the more desirable trim.

Trim levels & features

The 2017 GMC Savana Passenger is a large size van with numerous seating configurations and room for 12 people. (Its Savana Cargo sibling retains the front two seats and uses the rest of the interior as an expansive cargo area.) It's available in two load ratings, 2500 and 3500, and in two trims, the base LS and the LT. Additionally, the 3500 can be ordered in a long wheelbase, which increases the length of the floor by 20 inches, good for another row of seats, if you desire.

The LS is powered by a 4.8-liter V8 (285 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque) mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include 16-inch steel wheels, a 60/40-split opening passenger door, 12-passenger seating (2-3-3-4 with a 50/50-split back row), air-conditioning, power windows and locks, a driver information display, vinyl upholstery and floor covering, GM's OnStar emergency communications, and a two-speaker audio system with an AM/FM stereo and an auxiliary port.

A tilt-only steering wheel and cruise control are standard on 3500 models and optional on the 2500. Opting for the extended-wheelbase 3500 adds rear air-conditioning, which is available as a separate option for the other LS models.

Stepping up to the LT adds front and rear chrome bumpers, remote locking and unlocking, cloth upholstery, carpeted flooring, rear air-conditioning, and the tilt-only steering wheel and cruise control for the 2500.

Many of the features added by the LT are available on LS models as well. A bundle containing a 6.5-inch touchscreen with integrated rearview camera display, Bluetooth, a CD player, a USB port and a navigation system is available for any Savana Passenger model. A rearview camera with display located in the rearview mirror can be ordered on any vehicle without the touchscreen. Other stand-alone options include power-adjustable and heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a heavy-duty locking rear differential, remote vehicle start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats, satellite radio and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

Some features and packages are available only when the appropriate body type is selected. The Paratransit package for extended-wheelbase 3500 models removes the rear seat and reverts to vinyl floor coverings. This body style can also be ordered in a 15-passenger (2-3-3-3-4 seating) configuration.

Two additional powertrains are available on any body style. For hauling a high number of people, consider the 6.0-liter V8 (342 hp, 373 lb-ft) matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. If fuel efficiency is a priority, check out the diesel 2.8-liter four cylinder engine (181 hp and 369 lb-ft) paired to an eight-speed automatic.

Trim tested

Edmunds has not yet driven any version of this vehicle. The following is our first take on what's significant about it and what you can expect.


Unlike many in this segment, the GMC Savana offers seating for up to 15 passengers (most others max out at 12). Unfortunately, a high roof is not on the options list. Compared to rival vans, passengers will have to duck more as they enter and exit the vehicle.


The cargo area behind the rear seat measures 92.1 cubic feet, good enough to store everyone's carry-on luggage. You can turn the Savana into a makeshift cargo van by removing all the seats. This increases cargo volume to 252.8 cubic feet in the extended-wheelbase model.


The Savana isn't the most technologically advanced van on the market, with just a two-speaker sound system, AM/FM radio and an auxiliary port as standard. A USB port, CD player and navigation can be added, but the optional touchscreen's user interface is dated compared to those of other GMC models.

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.