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2012 GMC Savana 3500 Cargo

Overview
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2012 GMC Savana 3500 Cargo Review

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When you pass your local GMC dealer and see a row of full-size Savana Vans parked out front, you probably don't think twice about them, unless of course you run a small delivery business, or are a plumber or contractor or some such vocation. But, with its versatile interiors, the 2012 GMC Savana 1500, 2500 and 3500 can accommodate up to 15 people in relative comfort, or serve as the stage for one rocking conversion van ready to roll across America. In workhorse form, the 2012 Savana can be outfitted to hold all types of tools, and unlike a pickup truck, everything in the van's bed can be securely locked away from nefarious tool thieves. With options such as all-wheel-drive, the Savana can go places smaller front-drive vans don't dare. And with the available diesel engine, the Savana can up to 9,900 pounds and a GVWR of 9,600 pounds.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you need to carry more than eight passengers there's really only two choices, and one of them is a Ford. However, if you'd like the added safety of side curtain airbags for the first three rows, you'll need to look to the Savana, as Ford doesn't offer side-curtain airbags on its full-size passenger vans.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking for something with limousine like comfort, you might be better off in a full-size Yukon XL or even a stretched limo-type vehicle. While the Savana is a capable people mover, it's not high on long-term passenger comfort.

What's Significant About This Car?

A new color dubbed Wheatland Yellow is the only change for the 2012 GMC Savana Cargo Van and Passenger Van.

Driving the Savana 3500 Cargo

Driving Impressions Like GMC's other body-on-frame vehicles like the Sierra pickup and Yukon SUV, the 2012 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.

Capability
Few vehicles can offer the versatility of 15-passenger seating, a maximum tow rating of 9,900 pounds, and a cargo area measuring 284.4 cubic feet behind the front seats (313.9 total cubic feet of cargo volume).

2012 GMC Savana 3500 Cargo Details
Interior

The dash and door panels are pretty plain, but they are functional and sturdy, which is required of a passenger van's interior. Gauges in the instrument panel are large and easy to see, and the heating controls and radio are not placed so far from the driver as to force too long a reach. In Cargo Van form, the 2012 GMC Savana is a 2-passenger vehicle with the largest trunk in the world, up to 285 cubic feet to be exact. Of course, there a number of aftermarket tool racks and work benches that can be installed inside the Savana, all made more accessible by the optional flip-up side-access panels. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the 2012 GMC Savana Passenger Van that allows for such luxuries bench seating, power windows, rear air conditioning and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

Exterior
2012 GMC Savana 3500 Cargo photo

If the GMC Savana's exterior styling looks oddly familiar, it's 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 differences, such as the rounded corners, flush headlights and high taillights. Available door configurations include sliding or split swing-out side doors, and split rear doors with or without glass. Useful exterior accessories include a roof-mounted ladder rack, roof rack cross-rail system and mudflaps.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2012 GMC Savana Cargo Van starts equipped with a V6 engine, air conditioning, manual exterior mirrors, and vinyl upholstery and flooring. The basic 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 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and dual front airbags.

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 for the first three rows of seating and the OnStar system with emergency assistance.

Under the Hood

With one V6 and four V8s on its roster, the 2012 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 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 diesel V8, now cranking out 525 lb-ft of torque and capable of operating on B20 biodiesel fuel. All of the Savana's 8-cylinder engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. There is also a CNG (compressed natural gas) conversion for the 6.0-liter gas engine that includes hardened valve seats and a special 3-tank fuel tank configuration.

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

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2012 GMC Savana Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 40 Ratings for the 2003 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.6/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.9/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.3/10

great van! love it.awsome work truck!

By on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "smooth ride very comfortable, dependable."

Cons: "no cruise control."

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

"Bought new, used it for about 2years. Changed trades, now its hardly used. Exellent like new codition in&out.new tires.GoodYear silent armour pro grade.Shelves&racks walk thru cab cage w/locking door. Alpine cd am/fm stereo. This truck rocks! I just dont need it anymore."

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

No complaints other than it's a gas guzzler

By on Monday, September 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 345,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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."

25 people out of 50 found this review helpful

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

Great commercial van for businesses

By on Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Repo

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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