By KBB.com Editors
Full-size vans like the 2011 GMC Savana are about more than shuttling travelers to the airport or allowing plumbers to work from anywhere, though they fulfill those needs incredibly well. With versatile interiors, they can accommodate a slew of passengers, a tremendous amount of cargo, or a combination of each. Of course, other vehicles can lay claim to the same attributes, yet models like the GMC Savana are special in their ability to keep everything secure and under one long roof. The picture grows even more impressive when considering options like all-wheel drive and specifications including a 10,000-pound towing capacity and engines delivering up to 525 pound-feet of torque. There's a reason these workhorses haven't changed significantly over the years: They don't need to.
If you want more passenger capacity than any other mainstream vehicle, brute muscle on par with a hard-working pickup truck, and the ability to carry all of your tools of the trade in a secure space away from the elements, the 2011 GMC Savana is ready to serve.
Top-notch comfort and efficiency are not the GMC Savana's strong points, so if either of those points are high on your list of priorities, this full-size van probably shouldn't be your first choice.
GMC has updated is 2011 Savana with standard stability control on all models, the most up-to-date version of OnStar, a more powerful and efficient diesel engine option, and available features such as XM Satellite Radio and a locking rear differential.
Driving Impressions Like GMC's other body-on-frame vehicles like the Sierra pickup and Yukon SUV, the 2011 Savana's ride and handling characteristics may come as a welcome surprise. Though you won't...confuse this full-size van with a sports car, the steering and braking systems are fairly responsive, allowing drivers to feel secure when traveling with heavy loads. In those situations, 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 Doors
Tradespeople are sure to appreciate the Savana's side doors that allow for quick and easy access to their equipment.
Few vehicles can offer the versatility of 15-passenger seating, a maximum tow rating of 10,000 pounds, and a cargo area measuring 284.4 cubic feet.
Inspired by models like the Sierra pickup, the 2011 GMC Savana's dash and instrument panel has a simple yet contemporary appearance and an intuitive, user-friendly layout. Without options such as rear shelving units, the Cargo Van's interior is unquestionably bare, while the Passenger version appears more complete with standard seating for eight, cloth upholstery and carpet on the floor.
Interior space is what full-size vans are all about, so making any styling changes must be made with that in mind. As a result, the GMC Savana's general shape closely resembles that of models from as far back as the 70s, though the front end is more pronounced and the box isn't quite so, well, boxy. The shape has been streamlined and made as aerodynamic as possibly without sacrificing the all-important interior volume.
Every 2011 GMC Savana Cargo Van is fitted with standard features including a V6 engine, air conditioning, manual exterior mirrors, and vinyl upholstery and flooring. The Passenger Van goes a few steps further with a 5.3-liter V8 and cloth seat fabric. Thankfully, the list of safety equipment is a bit more robust, and includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and dual front airbags.
Since standard features are scarce on the GMC Savana, buyers who want creature comforts will need to focus on the options list. That's where they'll find a selection of V8 engines, an all-wheel-drive system, a towing package, and items that many of us take for granted, such as power windows and a radio. The safety front is covered by available side-curtain airbags and the OnStar system with emergency assistance.
With one V6 and four V8s on its roster, the 2011 GMC Savana offers buyers an engine for most any need. On the low end of the range is a 195-horsepower six-cylinder mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, which is suitable for light-duty applications but not heavy-duty hauling. For those situations, an optional 6.6-liter turbocharged diesel is hard to beat. That's especially true this year, as GMC has beefed up its oil-burning V8, now cranking out 525 pound-feet of torque and capable of operating on B20 biodiesel fuel. All of the Savana's eight-cylinder engines are paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
195 horsepower @ 4600 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20
280 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
296 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
334 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17
323 horsepower @ 4600 rpm
373 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/16
6.6-liter Turbodiesel V8
260 horsepower @ 3100 rpm
525 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
By Gitchydan on Monday, September 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 345,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very durable and reliable."
Cons: "Fuel economy and fit and finish."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"No complaints other than it's a gas guzzler. Very reliable, even more so then the past 5.7 liter Express vans that i have owned. I haven't had to do much other than the routine oil changes, tune-ups, and a brake job. I never had to replace the fuel pump like i have on the others. I bought this van with 213000 and have put almost another 150000. Great van, even with the 15 mpg."
17 people out of 36 found this review helpful
By Tom Brokaw on Saturday, May 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
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
By RehabDoc on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
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
By Smitty82 on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
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
By Karlajustme on Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Pros: "Space, easy to drive, dependability"
Cons: "Gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had this vehicle for almost 5 years. Bought in on 206 with 6,500 miles. Everything always worked perfect. Space inside with the shelves and rubberized throughout mat was a must have for spills and debris. Never towed anything. Gas mileage was about 12 mpg because the weight we carried. Nothing ever went bad. Great work beast!"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Kitty on Wednesday, October 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "excellent space inside, pulls trailers very well"
Cons: "poor gas milage. fuel pump replaced at 53,000 mile"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"A great space to turn into a living space (as I did) Had a builder put in two lenth wise shelves on either side plus two closets. I live inside with my 7 cats. Should have insulated more, but holds an enormous amount of belongings. I like using the easy downshift to slow down. Do not let gas tank fall below half. My fuel pump burnt out at 53000 miles. eats gas, but ok otherwise. No problems except fuel pump."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful