By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 4/6/2012
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 It 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.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 9,900 pounds, and a cargo area measuring 284.4 cubic feet behind the front seats (313.9 total cubic feet of cargo volume).
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
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 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.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 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.
195 horsepower @ 4,600 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 mpg
280 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
296 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17 mpg
310 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
334 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg
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 2012 GMC Savana's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $25,000. The standard 3500 Extended Passenger Van has an MSRP around $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.