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2014 GMC Savana Overview
GMC's people hauler soldiers on another year with but 3 new paint colors to show for it, otherwise largely unchanged for over a decade. Virtually identical to the Chevrolet Express (with which it shares a platform) from price to features, engine and looks, the Savana and Express models together make up more than half of the full-size vans on the road today, at least partly because of their relative simplicity and minimal cost as compared to more modern and versatile vans like the Ford E-Series Wagon, Nissan NV and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Moving into 2014 with so few changes is no big surprise for a package that's been a budget powerhouse for so many decades. The clear high point is in its utility, offering a selection spanning 4 powerful engines with 8-, 12- and 15-passenger body arrangements capable of towing between 6,000 and 9,900 pounds (with the optional tow package) and 216 to 252 cubic feet for cargo inside. The rest is not so clearly loved, but for most large families and small-business owners, the rest clearly isn't all that important either.
Just to name a few primary sticking points, fuel economy across the board is estimated between 11 mpg city and no better than 20 highway, but at least regular gas or Flex Fuel are acceptable diets as well as diesel, and all-wheel drive (AWD) is available in both 1500 and 2500 ratings with no mileage detriment over the otherwise standard rear-wheel (RWD) drivetrain. The Savana's handling is no more endearing than the Chevy Express's, having the same nearly 50-foot turning circle and a strut-based suspension in the rear made more for heavy loads than treading lightly. All of these plus the obvious fact that you can't stand up straight inside a Savana are addressed in high-roof vans like the NV and Sprinter, with Ford's E-Series Wagon taking the conversion cake by offering improvements on all those points except for height.
Offered in the familiar fleet-ready LS bare-bones base and more family-friendly LT trim levels, both are available with the same features fully loaded, such as 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a sliding side door instead of the default swing-out pair, 6-way powered front seats, remote ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation system, back-up camera, rear parking sensors and a sound system upgrade including a CD player, USB/iPod interface and satellite radio to enhance the standard 2-speaker setup with AM/FM functionality.
Otherwise an unmodified LS affords steel wheels, front air conditioning, vinyl upholstery, rubber floor covering and OnStar. Moving up to the LT adds chrome exterior details, keyless entry, rear A/C and heat, cloth upholstery, full carpeting, cruise control, full power accessories, trip computer, tilt-adjustable steering wheel and mirrors in the visors. The three-quarter-ton 1500 offers the 8-passenger setup, otherwise defaulting to 12, unless you opt up to the only extended-wheelbase 3500 for that extra row affording room for 15.
Saving the best for last, the buffet of 4 engines up for grabs in both the Savana and Express includes true troopers. The 1500 gets a 5.3-liter V8 pumping its 310 hp and 334 lb-ft of torque through a 4-speed automatic for about 13 mpg city/17 highway. Standard in the 2500 is a 4.8-liter V8 doling out 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque through the same 6-speed automatic as the optional 6-liter V8 good for 324 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque, both of these estimated for no better than 11/17. That 6-liter is standard for the 3500, but a 6.6-liter turbodiesel is optional for 260 hp and 525 lb-ft of torque, and that one is reportedly good for close to 20 mpg on the highway.
Your prototypical "Tom Girl" Patricia got her start digging into Ford engines before she aged into double digits. Gifted with a mechanical mind, her favorite pass-time in the summer is picking up a fixer-up'r at the local public auction and massaging its every ailment until it's primed for a new lover. From dirt bikes to land yachts, every partner offers something truly special in her love affair with the road - just don't tell her husband.
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