As the middle child in GMC's full-size van lineup, the 2014 GMC Savana 2500 provides more capability than the light-duty 1500 while offering more day-to-day versatility than the no-holds-barred 3500. GMC provides a 4.8-liter FlexFuel V8 as standard, delivering 279 horsepower and 294 lb-ft of torque. GM's 6.0-liter FlexFuel V8, with 323 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque, is available as an option in the 2500 passenger and cargo vans, while a 6.6-liter DuraMax diesel is offered only in the 3500. Braking on the 2500 is beefed up via larger-diameter front rotors, while the front and rear axles together can accommodate roughly 1,300 additional pounds of cargo or passenger load compared to the Savana 1500.
If comparing GMC's full-size vans with, say, the Silverado family of pickups, the vans provide a level of security for your cargo that a pickup never will. And if your residence or business is in the snow belt, a van will keep your cargo dry, regardless of the weather. Finally, most pickups are limited to six passengers, while the Savana passenger van can accommodate up to 12. If cargo and its protection are the most significant considerations, you can make a valid argument for the 2014 Savana. However, GMC's lineup of pickups and SUVs is typically more engaging to drive and has enjoyed more updates over the years.
What's New for 2014?
The Savana 2500 is unchanged for the 2014 model year.
What We Like
Just right capability; 1,300 additional pounds of GVWR over the light-duty 1500
What We Don't
Not the most contemporary or efficient van; dated compared to GMC's pickup, SUV and crossover lineup
The 2014 GMC Savana 2500 offers two engines. A 4.8-liter V8 that makes 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque is standard, while an optional 6.0-liter V8 produces 324 hp and 373 lb-ft. Fuel economy is unexceptional with either engine: The 4.8-liter returns 11 miles per gallon city/17 mpg hwy, and 13 mpg in combined city and highway driving; the 6.0-liter is rated at 11 mpg city/16 mpg hwy, and 13 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
Like its Chevrolet Express mechanical twin, the 2014 GMC Savana 2500 is offered in two distinct models: a Cargo van with no rear seats, and a Passenger van with seats. Cargo models come in only one trim, while the Savana Passenger is separated into LS and upscale LT models.
Choose the Savana 2500 Cargo ($30,000) and you should only expect the basics. That means vinyl seating, manual air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo and little else. That's right: no CD player, no OnStar system and no power accessories. That said, drivers who want those items can order them from the options list.
Step up to a Savana LS ($32,800) and you add a few more items. Most notably, that includes seats, but the Savana LS also adds power door locks and cruise control to the Cargo model's basic equipment list.
Topping the Savana range is the LT ($34,700), which adds cloth upholstery, a compass, remote keyless entry, rear air conditioning and exterior chrome accents.
In addition to the vans' standard equipment, GMC offers a long list of options. They range from simple items such as power mirrors and windows to upscale features such as a reversing camera, a navigation system and rear park assist. While the Savana 1500 is offered with all-wheel drive, all 2500 models are rear-wheel drive only.
The Savana's 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and dynamic rear proportioning reduce the drama in stopping a loaded truck. Helping you stay between the center stripe and the ditch is StabiliTrak, GM's stability control program that comes standard on the Savana. Another safety benefit is the sweeping visibility in the 2500 passenger van. Available backup camera and rear parking sensors aid in low-speed maneuvering. Head curtain side airbags and lap and shoulder belts for center-seat passengers wrap up the Savana's safety menu.
Likely owing to its narrow appeal and low-volume production, the Savana is unrated in the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests. However, NHTSA did rate the Savana for rollover protection, where it received three stars.
Behind the Wheel
With a 135-inch wheelbase and 2-stage, multi-leaf rear springs, the Savana is not designed for quickness. Ponderous proportions typically make for ponderous handling, and in this regard the Savana delivers as expected. But within the context of a people or cargo carrier, GM engineers have done an admirable job of massaging the "beast" out of this beast; the Savana delivers competent capability within its mission. And when equipped with any of the V8s, it goes about its business with eagerness you wouldn't have found in a similar vehicle 20 years ago.
With available room for 12 passengers or a couple of tons of cargo, you can configure a 2014 GMC Savana 2500 in dozens of ways. In cargo form, as marketed to many fleets, the Savana can serve roles as diverse as plumbing, carpentry or flower delivery. As a passenger van, the Savana is frequently used in shuttle or limousine service. And as an RV, the Savana can capably serve as a donor vehicle for getaway vehicle modifications. Passenger comfort, however, is determined in large part by the Savana's fleet specification. There's no pretense here of matching the luxury or appointments available in GMC's trucks or sport utilities. Rather, this is get-me-to-the-airport spec, with an interior designed to satisfy for no more than an hour at a time.
Other Cars to Consider
GMC Yukon XL -- If you're looking for a large vehicle with a lot of seats, the most obvious competitor to the full-size Savana is in the same showroom. A Yukon XL will seat up to eight, and while it doesn't deliver the Savana's sheer volume, it tops the van in comfort and over-the-road demeanor.
Ford E-350 -- Like the Savana, the E-350 is outdated, but Ford's next-generation full-size van arrives soon. Given the positive reception to its smaller sibling, the Transit Connect, Ford could have a winner on its hands, which would add pressure for GM to modernize the Savana.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter -- The Sprinter offers impressive capability and efficiency in a much more modern package than the Savana 2500. But it's also more expensive.
RAM ProMaster -- While it hasn't reached dealers yet, RAM's latest take on the full-size van is sure to offer huge capability, whether you're hauling people or large items. With diesel engines and European design, fuel economy is also expected to be strong.
We'd equip the 8-passenger Savana 2500 with the optional 6.0-liter V8 and 6-speed Hydra-matic. We'd then add just enough comfort and convenience accessories (navigation, the convenience package with power windows and locks, the heavy-duty trailering package, parking sensors and backup camera) to make it livable for a 3-week grand tour and beyond. With room for everything a family of four or five could carry, the Savana would make an excellent base camp or a great tow vehicle for that Boston Whaler. And you'd be out the door for well under $40,000.