1995 GMC Safari Van

Ext 111' WB RWD

Starting at | Starting at 0 MPG City - 0 MPG Highway

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  • $18,458 original MSRP

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Printable Version

1995 GMC Safari Van

Printable Version

1995 GMC Safari Van


1995 GMC Safari

Source: New Car Test Drive


It probably comes as no surprise that lots of American families are thinking about a new minivan. But it is surprising that so few think about the GMC Safari or its mechanical twin, the Chevrolet Astro.

Maybe it's because we've been conditioned to think of minivans as front-wheel-drive vehicles that behave like cars. That's been the ethic since Chrysler invented these versatile station wagon substitutes back in 1984, and Chrysler still owns the segment.

Built on a truck-style chassis, the Safari and Astro are rear-drive and not very carlike. But they are robust and rugged, offering a combination of capabilities that most of the smaller, lighter front-drive minivans simply can't handle. The overall package is still well within the minivan size category, but the appetite for hard work exceeds anything in this class.


In 1985, the Safari was General Motors' initial hurry-up response to the challenge of the Chrysler minivans. There's been steady refinement since, including a front-end face-lift for '95, but it's still basically the same vehicle.

The Safari comes in three trim levels. In ascending order, they are SLX, SLE and SLT. It is also available as a cargo model with only two seats. We drove an upper-crust Safari SLT.

Engine options for 1995 have been reduced to one: a 4.3-liter V6 rated at 190 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque paired with an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission.

This brawny powertrain means lots of muscle, and rear-wheel drive means it's a much better setup for pulling good-sized trailers. Maximum towing capacity is 5500 lb., much more than any front-drive minivan.

The only major powertrain option is a full-time all-wheel-drive system. It's expensive, but it does offer greatly enhanced traction on slippery surfaces, which makes it worth considering if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Functional changes to the powertrain include reduced engine noise, better low-end torque for more pulling power, transmission refinements for smoother shifting, and revisions to the power steering to make the Safari easier to maneuver.

As we mentioned, the front end has been restyled for 1995. There's a new grille, new fenders, some detail changes along the sides, and a spoiler below the front bumper.

Higher trim levels also have flush-mounted aero-style headlamps, though the basic Safari continues with traditional sealed beams.

A nifty feature that's carried over into the '95 models is the optional Dutch door at the rear of the van. The standard Safari doors are vertical, opening outward from the middle. That's good for access, but the rear window frames join to create a central pillar that interferes with rearward vision when the doors are closed.

The Dutch door has three sections: a glass upper hatch that swings up, with two half-doors below. Neat.

Besides its extra length, the '95 Safari includes more standard features such as air conditioning, an AM/FM radio, a driver's airbag and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS). GM deserves plenty of credit for this latter feature, a Safari standard since 1993. Even though ABS won't reduce stopping distances on dry pavement, it definitely helps maintain control in sudden stops on low-traction surfaces.

Interior Features

What the Safari offers, in quantity, is room, more of it than any other minivan you can buy. There's seating space for eight adults - real move-around seating space, with ample legroom at every position. And the maximum cargo volume of 170.4 cu. ft. is substantially more than even the largest front-drive minivans. The Ford Windstar, for example, maxes out at 144 cu. ft. The Safari is a tad more spacious than Ford's rear-drive Aerostar.

Getting into all this space does have some drawbacks, though. The Safari sits rather high off the ground, and the climb into the front seats requires pulling yourself up and in, just like a full-size van.

Once there, you'll see a dashboard design that's showing its age. The instruments themselves are easily visible, but some controls are awkward. You have to peer around the steering-wheel to see the climate controls; the power-mirror switch is a long reach away on the upper instrument panel; and the power-window switches are mounted flush on the doors, making them hard to see and awkward to use.

Another drawback to the interior is the narrow front footwells. The front fenders intrude a bit, which limits the amount of space for your feet.

However, there are lots of storage bins, map pockets, cubby holes and other places to stash personal items, and there are plenty of cupholders. And, of course, there are several sound-system options.

The seats in our Safari SLT were very comfortable, and moving around inside was easy, with a wide walk-through space from the front seats to the middle row.

And it's all put together well. Our Safari was devoid of rattles and squeaks, its doors closed with a solid thunk, and it had the solid feel that goes with good engineering and assembly.

Driving Impressions

The thing we liked most about driving our Safari was the commanding view of the road and the passing scenery. The seating position is high and the windows are big, giving you the sense of being above traffic rather than in it. It's the same kind of feeling that has helped convert lots of Americans from cars to sport/utility vehicles.

The ride isn't as carlike as front-drive minivans, but it's not quite like a truck, either. The Safari is at its best cruising down the freeway - it's a great long-distance vehicle. The ride is smooth and comfortable, and it eats up long miles effortlessly. With its roominess, visibility and comfort/convenience extras, our Safari SLT seemed to us to be the best family vacation vehicle on the market.

This is no compact car; its dimensions aren't really any bigger than a midsize passenger car. For example, our Safari was only 5 in. wider than a new Chevy Lumina sedan, and it was more than 11 in. shorter.

Handling characteristics - whether on highway, mountain road or city street - are competent and predictable. Like any tall vehicle, it feels a little awkward if it's hurried through a corner, but that's not what it's designed for.

The power-assisted steering does a better than average job of letting you know where the front wheels are pointed, and the ratio of 3.1 turns of the wheel from extreme left to extreme right helps in maneuverability.

For drivers who want a little tighter sense of control, there's a new FE2 touring suspension package, with gas-charged shock absorbers, bigger tires and a rear stabilizer bar.

While we scored the Safari's ride and handling as generally good, this vehicle's real strength is its 4.3-liter V6 engine. Although it's not the quietest or smoothest of minivan engines, it really offers up the power. Even pulling heavy trailers up long grades in summer heat, it's an able performer. This engine gives the Safari the strongest, most capable powertrain of any minivan on the market. Period.


The Safari isn't as modern as the newer front-drive minivans, including GM's own Chevy Lumina, Pontiac Trans Sport and Oldsmobile Silhouette, but it makes up for its small deficiencies with big volume.

It's not inexpensive, either. If you opt for the higher trim level and load it up with additional comfort and convenience features, like our test vehicle, the price can approach the mid-20s.

But if you need power in a tidy package, the Safari and Astro are tops in their class.

Model Line Overview
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Specifications As Tested
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Printable Version

1995 GMC Safari Van

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Printable Version

1995 GMC Safari Van

GMC Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-Year/24,000-Mile1 CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile2 Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile3 Powertrain Limited Warranty.

1Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

2Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

3Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2014 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1995 GMC Safari Van

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