By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/27/2011
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.You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's Significant About This Car?
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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
The 2011 GMC Savana's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $25,000. The standard 3500 Extended Passenger Van has an MSRP just under $34,000, but a fully loaded Savana can top out in the $50,000 range. For current information regarding what local consumers are paying for Savanas, make sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com before you sign on the dotted line. Compared to its leading competitor, the Ford E-Series, the GMC Savana (and its twin, the Chevrolet Express) is expected to maintain more of its initial value once trade-in time rolls around.