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2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Review

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2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Expert Review

By

Long the favorite of companies and individuals needing to move big loads, the aging GMC Savana van is still as capable as it is popular. But, the Savana is no longer the best vehicle for the job when it comes to moving people. Newer vans from Nissan and Ford employ all-new architecture offering more interior space and better fuel economy, not to mention a more modern skeleton. But, there are so many things to like about the Savana's design, chief among them the vast number of aftermarket parts for customization. Sharing its platform with GMC's full-size pickups, the 2014 GMC Savana comes in a number of sizes and abilities, including a 1-tone 3500 model, a number of engine choices including diesel and CNG and optional all-wheel drive.

You'll Like This Car If...

As a daily commuter, the 2014 GMC Savana only makes sense if you either have a huge family or own a little league team, but as a work van, it's still tough to beat. As easy to drive as it is on the wallet, the versatile Savana is hard to fault.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're just trying to find a way to move the family, a traditional full-size SUV makes much more sense. And, the Savana's fuel bills can become quite astronomical, especially with the big V8s.

How It Ranks

#4

out of 4

Fuel Economy

#6

out of 6

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.5 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Low/wide front photo What's New for 2014

For 2014, the GMC Savana gains standard power windows and door locks. Cut Away 3500/4500 models with the 159-inch wheelbase increase GVWR to 9,900 pounds.

Driving the Savana 1500 Cargo
2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions If the last time you remember driving a full-size van was when you were wearing your brand new Rush t-shirt and sporting long hair, you're in for a pleasant surprise....

... A substantially stiffened body and improvements in suspension, steering and engine/transmission operations make GMC's 2014 Savana van as comfortable and easy to drive as any modern full-size pickup or SUV. A high seating position and, on passenger vans, a broad expanse of side glass make for nearly unhampered 360-degree visibility. Cargo vans get big side mirrors to help the driver navigate, as well as available sonar park assist and a rearview camera. As for power, it's best to have one of the Savana's available V8 engines under the hood, as the base V6 is not suitable for anything beyond light-duty work.

SIDE ACCESS
When it comes to gaining access to the Savana's massive interior, GMC gives owners multiple choices. The standard passenger-side double swing-out doors can be replaced by a sliding door, there's a GM-exclusive swing-out-doors arrangement available on the driver's side, and lift-up panels can provide access to side storage bins.

CAPABILITY
Few vehicles can offer the versatility of 15-passenger seating, a tow rating of 9,900 pounds, and a cargo area measuring 284 cubic feet behind the front seats. And the view out over traffic is terrific.

2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Details
2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

As expected, the Savana's interior design stresses function over beauty. Sturdy plastics comprise most of the austere dash and door panels, with thick vinyl covering the seats and floor. Gauges in the instrument panel are large and easy to read, and the heating controls and radio are in reasonable reach for the driver. In Cargo Van form, the 2014 GMC Savana is a 2-passenger vehicle with the world's largest trunk. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Savana Passenger Van that allows for such luxuries as bench seating, power windows, rear air conditioning and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

Exterior
2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo photo

If the GMC Savana's exterior styling looks familiar, that may be because the basic box shape hasn't evolved much in 30 years. It's a van, after all, so the rolling breadbox shape is what is needed for the interior to be so roomy and versatile. Of course, there are some distinctions, such as the rounded corners, flush headlights and high taillights. Available door configurations include sliding or split swing-out passenger-side doors and GM-exclusive swing-out doors on the driver's side. Useful exterior accessories include a roof-mounted ladder rack, roof-rack cross-rail system and mudflaps.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

These are often work vehicles, remember, so the base specification is quite Spartan. The 2014 GMC Savana Cargo Van starts with a V6 engine (4.3 liters, 195 horsepower), air conditioning, power windows and door locks, manual exterior mirrors, and vinyl upholstery and floor covering. The basic Passenger Van takes one step up with a 4.8-liter, 280-horsepower V8 and cloth seat fabric. Full instrumentation and a Driver Information Center (trip computer) are included across the line. Standard safety features include 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and dual front airbags (plus head/side-curtain airbags for the first three rows in the Passenger Van).

Optional Equipment

Since standard fare is lean on the GMC Savana, the options list provides a lot of creature comforts and equipment upgrades. There's a selection of V8 engines (including the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel), an all-wheel-drive system, a towing package, plus such items as cruise control, upgraded audio systems and power windows and locks. Also available are rear-area heating and air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel and six months of OnStar "directions and connections." Note that the aftermarket offers all manner of specialty equipment, including tool racks and work benches and special-needs mobility provisions, and GM actively cooperates.

Under the Hood
2014 GMC Savana 1500 Cargo Engine photo

With one V6 and five V8s on its roster, the 2014 GMC Savana offers buyers an engine for most any need. On the low end of the range is a 195-horsepower 6-cylinder mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, which is suitable for light-duty applications but not heavy-duty hauling. For big burdens, the optional 6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8 is hard to beat, with its massive 525 lb-ft of torque. Between those extremes are 4.8-, 5.3- and 6.0-liter gasoline V8s, and also a CNG (compressed natural gas) conversion for the 6.0 that includes hardened valve seats and a special 3-tank fuel-storage configuration. All of the Savana's 8-cylinder engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

4.3-liter V6
195 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 mpg

4.8-liter V8
280 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
296 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17 mpg

5.3-liter V8
310 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
334 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg

6.0-liter V8
323 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
373 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/16 mpg

6.0-liter V8 CNG
279 horsepower @ 4,700 rpm
320 lb-ft or torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A

6.6-liter turbodiesel V8
260 horsepower @ 3,100 rpm
525 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A

The 2014 GMC Savana's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $26,000. The standard 3500 Extended Passenger Van has an MSRP around $35,000 (not excessive for a flexible family vehicle) and a fully loaded Savana can top $50,000. The comparable E-Series Ford vans don't offer the same broad range of choices and prices run in a narrower band between the Savana's highs and lows. A newcomer to the class is Nissan's NV – a pretty refined package but without the maximum hauling capacity or options choices – that prices out close to the Savana's lower-end numbers. Ford's new Transit also promises to give the Savana a run for its money. For current information regarding what local consumers are paying for Savanas, make sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com. Compared to the Ford E-Series, the GMC Savana is expected to maintain more of its value when trade-in time rolls around.

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2014 GMC Savana Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 38 Ratings for the 2003 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.6/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.4/10

Best van I've owned

By on Saturday, May 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Many"

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I've owned several full size conversion vans. The AWD is the difference between this one and the rest. Simply put, it's wonderful. It's great in snow. I pull a bass boat and it is so beneficial for launching or pulling out. Many of the boat ramps are sand and gravel. No problem. I was concerned that the AWD would be harder on tires. Not true! It drives nice and by sitting up higher, you have a good view of what's going on ahead and around you. GM isn't producing the AWD full size vans right now. I sure hope they are back when it's time to buy a new one."

58 people out of 122 found this review helpful

Great big rig with a couple expensive design flaws

By on Friday, February 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great on the open road."

Cons: "Critical parts exposed to corrosion"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Great on the open road, trucky and bumpy in the city. 50,000 care free miles on the engine. Expensive to fix design flaws: 1. Anti-slip sensors in wheels get corroded and fire even on dry pavement. Need to be removed and blasted clean every few years. 2. Air conditioning lines going to rear condenser run right at the bottom of the vehicle where they are very vulnerable to corrosion. I had to replace both (right and left) at $1,000 - $1,200 each after 5 years due to freon leaking through rusted areas. These should have been rustproofed. I'm selling the rig before I have to do this again. 3. Door hinges are exterior and they seize up. I had to have the doors taken off and the hinges cleaned up so they work three times in 9 years -- the first time after only 3 years of ownership."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Driver foot room cramped.

By on Thursday, February 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Good van."

Cons: "16 inch Wheels too small for off road or holes"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Conversion van not listed in model for price. Top of instrument panel not shaped for GPS or rear view camera."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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