Pros: Huge capacity; mechanically simple and easy to work on; well-priced compared to rivals

Cons: Outdated design and interior; poor fuel economy

What's New: The GMC Savana Cargo is largely unchanged for the 2013 model year, except for a few new options. Those include a navigation system, a rearview camera and helpful rear park-assist.

The GMC Savana is a full-size van offered in cargo and passenger configurations. This overview applies to the Savana Cargo, which is sold without windows or rear seats, primarily for commercial users.

Like its Chevrolet Express sibling, the Savana is offered in three trim levels. Base-level models are called the Savana 1500, while the full-size van also offers higher-grade Savana 2500 and Savana 3500 models. The base-level Savana 1500 is only sold with the van's short wheelbase, while the larger models offer short or long wheelbase configurations.

Shoppers who pick a base-level Savana 1500 Cargo get a 195-horsepower 4.3-liter V6 mated to a 4-speed automatic. But drivers can upgrade to an optional 310-hp 5.3-liter V8 if they need to haul more equipment. We recommend the V8, as the V6 feels very taxed -- and fuel economy barely improves with the smaller engine.

For those who prefer the Savana 2500 or 3500, the van's 280-hp 4.8-liter V8 becomes standard. Heavier-duty models also offer the longer-wheelbase version and two engine choices: a 323-hp 6.0-liter V8 and a torquey 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8. That engine makes just 260 hp but produces a whopping 525 lb-ft of torque.

Inside, any GMC Savana Cargo is a stripped-down vehicle with few creature comforts. While its new options are useful, many shoppers are still likely to pick a fairly basic model. The Savana's base trims include air conditioning and a CD player, but go without useful features such as keyless entry and power windows.

Base-level Savana 1500 models start around $27,500, while an extended-length, diesel-powered Savana 3500 can run as high as $45,000 with shipping.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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