by Karl Furlong
According to several academics, our life's happiness curve is U-shaped. What this means is that our state of contentment dips in our 30s and 40s and only starts to pick up again after 50. So, despite increasingly creaky bones and a disdain for anything trendy, seniors seem to be the ones without a care in the world. This same outlook applies to the GMC Savana Cargo Van; in automotive years, it's a relic. And despite a hopelessly dated cabin, old-school tech, and a crashy ride, the Savana nonchalantly sails into 2022 as if the world around it hasn't changed at all. It does have some positive attributes, such as powerful engines providing up to 401 horsepower in the case of the V8, a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds, and solid payload numbers. The more youthful Ford Transit Cargo Van lacks the same towing capability as the brawny Savana, but is a much easier vehicle to live with. Apparently unperturbed by its younger competition, the powerful but distinctly senior Savana survives to see yet another decade, but how much longer can it hold on?
No changes have been implemented for the GMC Savana Cargo Van this year.
See trim levels and configurations:
With its old-school body-on-frame construction, the Savana is sturdy and dependable, but the setup does not lend itself to refined driving manners. This is a big van and it feels that way, whether in a straight line or when trying to contain its considerable body roll through the corners. The steering is light, which at least makes parking maneuvers easier, especially as cargo vans will typically spend lots of time pulling into and out of all manner of tight spots on the job. Unfortunately, the steering's lightness is a pain on the open road, where the van struggles to maintain its course without regular corrections from the driver. The hard suspension transmits many bumps and surface changes through to the driver and passenger, without the cushioning required to make smooth progress. Being a van, crosswinds can also affect stability. Overall, then, the rough Savana isn't exactly relaxing from behind the wheel.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Over two decades later, it's remarkable that the GMC Savana Cargo Van has been able to stick around despite its obvious shortcomings. Both inside and out, the Savana can't hide its age and, disappointingly, it lags behind key contenders in this segment for overall cargo capacity. The absence of a high-roof option also limits its usability. And, while undeniably tough, it isn't a pleasant vehicle to drive in town or on the highway. On the plus side, the available V8 and turbodiesel engines are powerful and responsive, towing capacity is excellent, and the mechanicals are proven. These characteristics have been enough for the manufacturer to resist releasing an all-new model, but it's not enough for the Savana to compete with the Ford Transit, Nissan NV, and Mercedes-Benz Metris - all are much more modern cargo haulers and reminders that a van can be more than just a box on wheels.
|GMC Savana Cargo Van||276 hp||TBC||$38,100|
|Chevrolet Express Cargo Van||276 hp||TBC||$33,000|
|Ford Transit Cargo Van||275 hp||TBC||$43,455|
These corporate twins have much in common, for better or (mostly) worse. Like the Savana, the Chevy Express has V6, V8, and turbodiesel engine options. It boasts the same maximum towing capacity of 10,000 lbs, but suffers from the same disappointing cargo area and the lack of a high-roof option. The two vans also share a stark interior with few luxuries available to conceal their ages. Both vans even have an identical starting price of $33,000. At the end of the day, if your choice has come down to one of these, pick the badge on the nose that appeals to you most. But if you want the best cargo van, neither of these is it.
The Ford Transit Cargo Van demonstrates just how far the segment has progressed since the GMC Savana was first launched. The Transit gets off to a great start by offering more options, with the availability of a high roof, RWD or AWD, and three body lengths. The Ford also drives with far more composure and both of its engines are powerful and smooth. The interior of the Transit isn't exactly luxurious, but it's far better than the Savana's, with a modern infotainment system and a superior specification. Overall cargo volume is also much better in the Ford, but the GMC wins back some points by offering greater towing capacities. In fact, towing capacity and a lower starting price are the only two areas where the Savana comes out on top. In all other aspects, the Ford Transit is a vastly superior cargo van.
The most popular competitors of 2022 GMC Savana Cargo Van: