Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2017 GMC Savana represents the last of a decades’-old van design, one with a proven history of reliability and versatility, but whose time has probably come. The problem isn’t that the Savana van can’t haul loads of cargo and tools, rather it pales when compared to newer vans like the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Metris.
You'll Like The 2017 GMC Savana If...
If you’re looking for a reliable work van with a long history of hauling people and cargo, the 2017 GMC Savana van deserves a good look. A choice of two body lengths, seating for up to 15 passengers and a 10,000-pound tow rating are all positives.
You May Not Like The 2017 GMC Savana If...
If you’re looking for a modern van with the latest safety technology, all-wheel drive or a cargo roof high enough to allow one to stand upright without stooping, then a newer competitor like the Ford Transit makes a better choice.
For 2017, GMC’s Savana cargo and passenger vans drop the V8 diesel and CNG engine options. New options include a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine, a spray-in cargo liner, and some new colors.
Function is the priority over form in the 2017 Savana. As either a cargo van doing commercial duty or passenger hauler acting as a shuttle for a hotel or large family, the Savana boast loads of interior space. Unlike competitors, only one roof height is available, but there is an extended-length model that provides even more space. Sturdy plastics and vinyl seats are the cabin materials of choice. Cargo models can seat two up front, while a Crew Cargo version seats five and still offers plenty of space in back. Passenger models seat 12 in standard form, 15 for extended-length models.
If you have a bunch of things to carry, you put them in a box, right? That’s the philosophy behind the GMC Savana’s design. The shape hasn’t evolved much in 30 years, but you could argue that it hasn’t needed to. 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 numerous add-ons like the swing-out ladder rack. The van can also be customized to accommodate wheelchairs and assist with entry, and buyers can even receive financial reimbursement through the GM Mobility Program.
Although it retains that groovy 1970s’ van shape on the outside, the underpinnings on GMC’s 2017 Savana van are more closely related to GMC’s current pickup trucks. The design has its pluses and minuses. On the upside, the Savana is a powerful cargo van that can tow up to 10,000 pounds. In passenger form, it can seat up to 15 people, although the rear bench seats do not have tall seatback and head restraints found in most of the competition. The tall seating position and broad side glass make it easy to drive and maneuver the Savana, although it does have a rather wide turning radius. Cargo vans include rear parking sensors and rearview camera, as well as large side mirrors that aid when parking. The Savana’s gasoline V8 engine choices offer lots of torque for pulling and towing, but fuel economy is the strong suit of the 2.8-liter diesel.
The 2017 GMC Savana has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $32,000 for a base cargo van, while passenger-van models start just under $35,000. The basic chassis for a cutaway van will run about $31,000 before upfitting. The new 2.8-liter diesel adds a cool $4,000 to the bottom line. That’s competitive with the Nissan NV, which lacks the Savana’s towing capacity. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter costs more, though the new Sprinter Worker model appeals with its mid-$30,000 price and standard diesel engine. Also alluring are the smaller, nimbler Mercedes-Benz Metris that starts under $30,000 and the newer Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid. The Savana’s resale value is expected to be on par with the Transit and Nissan NV and better than the Ram ProMaster.
It’s not surprising that a work van like the base 2017 GMC Savana cargo has the barest essentials. There is a standard 4.8-liter V8, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, manual exterior mirrors, vinyl seats and an AM/FM radio with auxiliary input. It is also equipped with GM’s subscription-based OnStar 4G LTE connectivity service. Passenger-van models feature cloth seat fabric and 12- or 15-passenger seating. Safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control and dual front airbags (plus head/side-curtain airbags for the first three rows in the Passenger Van).
The Savana’s noteworthy extras include a 6.0-liter V8 or 2.8-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine, a towing package, locking rear differential, cruise control, upgraded audio systems and rearview camera. Also available is an integrated 6.5-inch touch-screen navigation system with traffic information. Passenger models can get rear air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and other comfort/convenience amenities, while cargo vans offer a spray-in floor liner. On the more industrial side, there’s an enormous upfitter market for tool racks, work benches, special-needs mobility provisions and whatever else you can imagine. GM actively cooperates with these manufacturers.
EASY ACCESSNo matter what your intended use for the 2017 Savana van, GMC offers numerous ways to making entry and exit a snap. Be it a traditional sliding side door, or swing-out hinged doors on the side and back, the Savana is all about choice.CAPABILITYDespite its age, the 2017 GMC Savana can still tow up to 10,000 pounds, consume 284 cubic feet of goods or seat up to 15 people. With a starting price just under $32,000, it offers a lot of power and capability at a very reasonable price.
Under the Hood
The 2017 Savana full-size van offers a choice of two powerful V8 engines. The base powerplant is a 4.8-liter V8 making 285 horsepower. The optional 6.0-liter V8 makes 342 horsepower. Later in the model year, a 2.8-liter inline 4-cylinder turbo-diesel will be offered. All models are rear-wheel drive and use either a 6-speed automatic transmission (gasoline) or 8-speed unit (diesel). If you require an all-wheel-drive commercial van, look to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.2.8-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4181 horsepower @ 3,400 rpm369 lb-ft of torque @2,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A4.8-liter V8285 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm295 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A6.0-liter V8342 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm373 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/16 mpgNote: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 GMC Savana represents the last of a decades’-old van design, one with a proven history of reliability and versatility, but whose time has probably come. The problem isn’t that the Savana cargo and passenger vans can’t haul loads of cargo and people, rather that newer van designs like the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster and Mercedes-Benz Metris and Sprinter can do it better for about the same price. The Savana’s V8 diesel engine is replaced this year by a smaller, less powerful 4-cylinder version, leaving very little to argue why one would choose this van over its newer, safer and more technologically savvy competitors. Being a known commodity to upfitters might be a good reason, as is the Savana’s 10,000-pound tow rating.