2018 GMC Savana

2018 GMC Savana Review

The 2018 GMC Savana passenger van holds plenty of people, but its competitive strengths stop there.
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

While minivans are perfect for transporting most families, they simply aren't suitable for those who need to seat a large number of people or have substantial cargo requirements. A full-size passenger van such as the 2018 GMC Savana is the only answer. While typical minivans can only seat eight, the Savana has room for 12, or even 15 if you opt for the long-wheelbase version. The large, flexible seating solutions make a vehicle such as the Savana ideal for large families or shuttle operators.

Like passenger vans of yore, the Savana utilizes an old-school body-on-frame construction similar to a pickup truck. Its heavy-duty bones give it the ability to tow and carry more than most competitors, which rely on a unibody structure that gives them lower payload capabilities. Unfortunately, the Savana's truck frame gives it a rougher ride than its rivals, and its advanced age means modern advanced safety aids are practically nonexistent. Its touchscreen interface is relatively ancient for the same reason. Even in a class built for function over form, the cabin looks much older and is filled with lower-quality materials than those of its rivals. You also can't order the Savana in a high-roof variant. Though the 2018 Savana enjoys excellent towing and payload ratings, there aren't enough benefits to recommend this aging workhorse.



What's new for 2018

Last year's base 4.8-liter V8 has been replaced by a 4.3-liter V6 with similar horsepower and torque ratings. The 6.0-liter V8 again supports compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion. A rearview camera, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and hill start assist are now standard, and a blind-spot monitor has been added to the options list. Several new packages, including the Safety, Communications and Enhanced Convenience packages, are now available. Eight- and 10-passenger seating configurations are no longer available.

We recommend

The search for the perfect GMC Savana begins with evaluating your needs. The 3500, with its higher gross vehicle weight rating, is perfect for drivers who will frequently load the Savana with lots of passengers. The extended-wheelbase version is even better, allowing for extra storage space or an additional row of seating. Upgrading to the LT costs very little, and its added features are beneficial to driver and passengers alike.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 GMC Savana is a large 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. You can keep the extra space for additional cargo room or add another row, good for seating up to 15 passengers (a 2-3-3-3-4 configuration).

By default, the rear-wheel-drive Savana is powered by a 4.3-liter V6 (276 horsepower, 298 pound-feet of torque) paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Alternate powertrains are available if the standard V6 doesn't meet your requirements, including a 6.0-liter V8 (341 hp, 373 lb-ft) matched to a six-speed automatic and a 2.8-liter diesel four-cylinder engine (181 hp, 369 lb-ft) with an eight-speed automatic.

Standard features on the LS model 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 rearview camera, a driver information display, vinyl upholstery and floor covering, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, GM's OnStar emergency communications, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, 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 via the Driver Convenience package. 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, Bluetooth, a CD player, a USB port and a navigation system is available for any Savana model. Other stand-alone options include power-adjustable and heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitor, a heavy-duty locking rear differential, remote engine start, a sliding rear door, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats and satellite radio. A number of these features are available as part of packages for the 2500 model in LS trim; these include the Communications, Safety and Enhanced Convenience packages.

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.



Trim tested

The ratings in this review are based on our cumulative experience with the current-generation GMC Savana.

Driving

Even the standard-wheelbase Savana is a large vehicle, and it drives like one. Tidy handling and accurate steering are not among the big GMC's marching orders. The upgraded V8 engine is responsive, though, and easily gets the van up to highway speeds, even with a full load of passengers.

Comfort

The driver and front passenger are divided by an enormous center bulge covering some of the engine and transmission, the width of which causes the driver to feel squeezed even in this large vehicle. The basic controls are easy to find and simple to use, but comforts are few.

Interior

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.

Utility

The cargo area behind the rear seat measures 92.1 cubic feet, good enough to store everyone's carry-on luggage. You can also 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.

Technology

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, a 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.