We didn’t expect any significant changes in the 2020 GMC Savana, and we weren’t disappointed. GM hasn’t performed a major makeover on this vehicle or it’s Chevrolet fraternal twin, the Express, since the mid 1990s. GMC has followed up over the years with a few tweaks here and there and a powertrain improvement or two, but little else. There’s no question that the GM Savana and Express are the elder statesmen among big vans.
Savana is a van that’s better suited for fleet service than family hauling. It’s tired, it’s dated, and it lacks many of the modern niceties found in competitors like the Nissan NV or the Ram ProMaster. The fact that Savana doesn’t offer a high-roof model renders it less attractive to some professionals who need to move around comfortably in the cargo area.
All in all, there are better, more modern choices out there.
What’s New for 2020?
There are no changes for 2020. See the 2020 GMC Savana models for sale near you
What We Like
What We Don’t
- Hasn’t been completely redesigned since the 1990s
- Low roof with no higher option
- Thirsty V8s
- Sloppy driving dynamics
GMC provides four engine choices. The base engine is a 276-horsepower 4.3-liter V6. It generates 289 lb-ft of torque ushered to the rear wheels by an 8-speed automatic transmission. Returning optional engines include a 341-hp 6.0-liter V8, which delivers 373 lb-ft of torque with a towing capacity of up to 10,000 lb. Also making a return appearance is the 181-hp 2.8-liter Duramax 4-cylinder turbodiesel, which generates 369 lb-ft of torque.
Last but not least is a version of the same 6.0-liter V8 that can be converted to natural gas. The turbodiesel also gets the 8-speed automatic transmission, while both versions of the V8 change the cogs with a 6-speed automatic.
Because of the Savana 2500’s classification, GMC isn’t required to provide fuel economy estimates to the Environmental Protection Agency. Don’t expect anything great.
Standard Features & Options
Like its Chevrolet Express mechanical twin, the 2019 GMC Savana is offered in the 2500 or the heavy-duty 3500. Each is available as a cargo van with no rear seats or as a passenger van with seats. The 2500 Cargo models, as well as the 3500 Cargo and Passenger models, are offered in regular- and long-wheelbase versions. The 2500 Passenger is regular-wheelbase only. Opting for the extended version of the 2500 Cargo adds $1,900 to the price. Doing the same for the 3500 Cargo or Passenger van adds $800 to the bottom line. Cargo models come in only one trim, while the Passenger vans are separated into LS and LT models. Pricing is for regular wheelbase versions and includes the $1,295 factory destination charge.
If you choose the Savana 2500 Cargo ($33,095) or 3500 Cargo ($36,395), you shouldn’t expect much more than the basics. That means vinyl seating, manual air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary port, hill-start assist, a backup camera, OnStar capability and little else. That’s right — no power accessories. With that said, drivers who want those items can order them from the options list.
Step up to the Passenger 2500 LS ($36,195) or the 3500 LS ($38,495) and you’ll add a few more items. Most notably, they include 12- or 15-passenger seating, but the Savana LS also adds power door locks, cruise control, a 110-volt outlet and standard Wi-Fi to the Cargo model’s basic equipment list. The standard seating capacity is 12 in a 2-3-3-4 arrangement. The longer Savana 3500 can seat 15.
Topping the 2019 GMC Savana range are the Passenger 2500 LT ($38,495) and the 3500 LT ($40,195), which add cloth upholstery, a compass, remote keyless entry, rear air conditioning and exterior chrome accents.
In addition to 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 an IntelliLink touchscreen and rear park assist, as well as forward-collison warning and lane-departure warning.
The standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, a backup camera, front-side airbags and side-curtain airbags that cover the first three rows. Blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with lane-departure warning and rear parking sensors are options. The Savana has not undergone third-party crash testing.
Behind the Wheel
With a 135-in wheelbase and 2-stage multileaf rear springs, the Savana is not designed for maneuverability or comfort. Ponderous proportions typically make for ponderous handling, and in this regard, the Savana delivers as expected. You might think that’s par for the course when it comes to cargo vans, but the Savana’s substantially more modern competitors are easier to park and better at negotiating tighter spaces.
The Savana’s ancient design is also a detriment in terms of interior space. It only has one roof height available, and it’s considerably lower than the majority of its competitors — there’s no way you’ll be standing upright in a Savana, unlike those other vehicles. Seat comfort and passenger space are also comparatively poor. In short, rival vans can make your job easier and your passenger’s trip nicer.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Ford Transit – Ford‘s new full-size van is offered in cargo and passenger configurations. Unlike the Savana, it boasts several fuel-efficient engine choices, modern driving dynamics, tall roof heights and high-tech optional extras.
2020 Ram ProMaster – Ram‘s latest take on the full-size van offers huge capability, whether you’re hauling people or large items. With diesel engines and a European design, the ProMaster’s fuel economy is also much better than the Savana’s figures.
2020 Nissan NV – While it is the most like the Savana in functionality, this truck-based van offers better driving dynamics, more body style choices and a more modern design.
Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – The Sprinter offers impressive capability and efficiency in a considerably more modern package than the Savana, but it’s also more expensive. You might consider a used model, keeping in mind it was also sold as the Freightliner Sprinter.
Beyond price and decent towing capability, there’s not much to recommend about the 2020 GMC Savana. Rival vans have simply surpassed it in design and engineering. If we did buy a Savana, we’d stick with basic models, adding a few options as needed. Find a GMC Savana for sale