Savana Cargo

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2010 GMC Savana Cargo Overview

The 2010 GMC Savana Cargo is a traditional panel van, which takes the passenger configuration and replaces the side and rear windows with metal panels or optional access panels for versions not equipped with the optional driver’s-side 60/40 doors. It’s available in half-, three-quarter-, and one-ton versions, labeled 1500, 2500, and 3500. The Savana Cargo comes in regular and extended wheelbase lengths of 135 and 155 inches, respectively. 1500 trims are available only with the regular wheelbase, but do offer the option of an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

The Cargo has a range of engines available, starting with a 195-hp, 4.3-liter V6 paired with a four-speed automatic. Four V8s follow suit, the first three of which are E85-compatible. First is a 279-hp, 4.8-liter V8 that comes with a new six-speed automatic transmission. Unfortunately, if you upgrade to the 301-hp, 5.3-liter V8, the six-speed is not an option, paired as the engine is only with the old four-speed automatic. The 323-hp, 6.0-liter V8 does get the six-speed, however, making a formidable pair.

The real performer in the lineup is not E85-capable, however: a 250-hp, 6.6-liter V8 turbodiesel, also mated to the six-speed automatic. Maximum towing capacity ranges from 6,700 pounds for the 1500 with the V6 up to 10,000 pounds for the 3500 with the turbodiesel V8.

Inside, vinyl covers the front bucket seats and the floor, serving the dual purpose of keeping cargo in place and easing cleanup efforts. Room will not be an issue, whether speaking of entry and exit, head and leg space, or cargo room, with a maximum of 317 cubic feet of storage. The interior is functional first, but there are plenty of options to add. The LT option package alone adds rear air conditioning and a rear heater to regular-length trims, and a tilt steering wheel and cruise control for the 1500 and 2500. You’ll also get custom cloth upholstery, heated power mirrors, power windows and door locks, and remote keyless entry, as well as illuminated visor mirrors, a compass, a deluxe console with auxiliary lighting, carpeting, and floormats. The upgrades aren’t relegated to the interior alone, with a chrome grille and bumpers and chrome wheel center caps finishing off the package.

All Savana trims come with antilock brakes and antiskid, as well as dual front and side curtain airbags. Additional standard safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. NHTSA ratings show five stars, excepting rollover and rollover resistance with three stars.

Perhaps the most unexpected strong point of this very capable vehicle is its handling. Expect the usual lean in corners and practice your K turns, but with that said, testers have rated the ride of the Savana as better than the class average. Some have even gone so far as to call it best in class, with less float and wallow than other entries. However, as these are made to be heavily laden, expect some abrupt response to rough roads when unloaded. Trims equipped with the longer 155-inch wheelbase are even more composed over bumps and ripples, and the AWD system available with the 1500 provides an added level of security that has been very well received.

In all, the 2010 GMC Savana Cargo continues to represent a capable and standard-setting entry in its class. Upgrades and changes to this vehicle, both large and small, have provided continual improvements to what could be a boring and forgotten entry. Still, GMC seems committed to offering the best they can in this decisively glamour-less class.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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