While the rest of the big van market moves to Euro-based body-on-frame vans with high roofs and small engines, GMC continues on with their body-on-frame, big-engined van. The Savana is getting long in the tooth, since the last redesign for the van was about 16 years ago. It doesn’t have the roof height, cargo space, or fuel economy of the Euro vans like the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster, but it will beat them all when it comes to towing. The Savana can tow up to 4,536 kg.
It does see some important changes for 2018, especially under the hood. The base 4.8L Vortec V8 is being replaced by an all-new V6. The 4.3L EcoTec V6 shares a displacement with the V6 that was in the big vans years ago, but this is an all-new engine. It’s based on the latest V8s, but with two cylinders cut off. The new engine is rated for 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque.
Midway through the 2017 model year, GMC added a 2.8L four-cylinder diesel, the one from the Canyon, in place of the old 6.6L V8 oil-burner. That diesel makes 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. New for the V6 and the diesel is an eight-speed automatic transmission. Either of those engines, combined with the new gearbox, should offer a significant boost to fuel economy. That’s a big deal for the fleet customers who buy the lion’s share of these vans.
All Express vans now get a rearview camera with the monitor mounted in the mirror. Blind spot alerts and hill start assist are also added.
The Savana Cargo comes in just 2500 and 3500 models. Both available in regular or long-wheelbase. They come only in WT trim, which means vinyl seats, AC, power windows, and that’s about it. These are low-option vehicles designed for moving from jobsite to jobsite, and are low on creature comforts.