2013 GMC Savana Van Preview

Jeff Youngs | May 08, 2013
  • Full-size van is popular for personal, commercial, and fleet applications
  • 2013 model carries over from previous year
  • Light-, medium-, and heavy-duty versions are available
  • Choice of three V-8 engines including diesel and flex-fuel
  • Passenger version accommodates up to 15 riders
  • Allows adaptation for wheelchair lift


The GMC Savana and its equivalent the Chevrolet Express are heirs to the iconic Chevy van: full-size cargo and people haulers. They're sold in 1500, 2500 and 3500 series models, in a choice of two wheelbases, with maximum seating capacity of 15 when configured for passenger use. This van is usually configured for commercial or recreational use, and is a popular fleet vehicle. The GMC Savana competes with the Nissan NV and the Ford E-Series. The Passenger Van is available in LS or LT trim levels, while the Work Van is offered in regular or Diesel trim. Properly equipped, the maximum payload for the 3500 with the long wheelbase is 4,033 pounds; maximum towing capacity is 10,000 pounds.

Exterior Features

The 2013 GMC Savana Van is available in nine exterior colors (some at a slight extra charge). The exterior features of the Savana Work Van include available driver-side cargo doors, and exterior lift panels, which can be opened with a remote release and provide access to storage bins on the side of the van. GM-exclusive swing-out doors are available on the 135-inch wheelbase models. On the Passenger Van, enhanced-technology side glass is available, as well as a passenger-side sliding door. Standard on the 1500 models are 17-inch wheels; 16-inch wheels are standard on the 2500 and 3500 models.

Interior Features

Standard interior features include vinyl upholstery and single-zone manual air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM radio, and manually adjustable mirrors and steering wheel. Many options are available. Extended-wheelbase models of the Work Van offer a total of 284.4 cubic feet of cargo space.

Optional Features

The Chrome Appearance package adds chrome to the front and rear bumpers and grille of the LS trim, and includes halogen composite headlamps. It's standard on LT models, as is cloth upholstery. Options on both LS and LT include a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, CD player, dual-zone air conditioning, OnStar, satellite radio, navigation, power door locks, and much more. Some of these features are standard on the LT Passenger Van. Both the Passenger Van and the Work Van offer many optional configurations tailored to specific uses. For example, the Hotel Shuttle package adds front rubberized vinyl, a 145-amp alternator, power windows and locks, Solar-Ray deep-tinted glass, fixed glass on the rear  and side cargo doors (upgradable to full body window package fixed glass), rear side door and rear door window swing-out glass, rear cargo door window swing-out glass, extra chrome, and a rear body-colored halo. A roof ladder-mount package and a roof cross-rail package are available, along with many other accessories.

Under the Hood

The GMC Savana offers a choice of three engines. Standard on the 1500 models is a Vortec 4.3-liter V-6 engine rated at 195 horsepower that produces 260 lb.-ft. of torque, with a 4-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Optional is a Vortec 5.3-liter V-8 flex-fuel engine rated at 310 horsepower that produces 334 lb.-ft. of torque, with a 4-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The 2500 and 3500 models upgrade to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a Vortec 4.8-liter V-8 flex-fuel engine that delivers 280 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, or a Vortec 6.0-liter V-8 flex-fuel engine rated at 324 horsepower and 373 lb.-ft. of torque, or a Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbo-diesel engine rated at 260 horsepower and 525 lb.-ft. of torque, all with rear-wheel drive. Available on the 1500 Series, GMC's all-wheel-drive system is the first of its kind in a factory-built full-size van, the automaker claims. It constantly monitors and adjusts torque between the front and rear wheels to provide optimal traction.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 GMC Savana Van, using regular gasoline, are:

  • 1500 Passenger Van with 5.3-liter engine and rear-wheel drive: 13/17/14 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • 1500 Passenger Van with 4.3-liter engine: 15/20/17 mpg
  • 2500 Passenger Van with 4.8-liter engine: 11/17/13 mpg
  • 2500 Passenger Van with 6.0-liter engine: 11/16/13 mpg
  • 3500 Passenger Van with 4.8-liter engine: 11/17/13 mpg
  • 3500 Passenger Van with 6.0-liter engine: 11/16/12 mpg

The numbers are significantly lower when E85 fuel is used.


All 2013 Savana models feature driver and front-passenger air bags. The passenger sensing system in the 1500 models can deactivate the outboard front-passenger air bag if the occupant is lighter than a specific weight. OnStar (free for 6 months) provides automatic crash response, stolen-vehicle assistance, a link to emergency services, roadside assistance, remote door unlock, OnStar vehicle diagnostics, Crisis Assist, and remote horn and lights.
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