GMC Savana is a roomy, versatile workhorse that is adept at hauling up to 15 people, cargo or both. It also serves as the foundation for safe, comfortable and luxurious conversion vans. The 2011 Savana is available in light duty half-ton, three-quarter-ton and one-ton weight classes, in regular (135-inch) and long wheelbase (155-inch). Included in the multitude of engine choices are those that can operate on E85 ethanol, a domestically produced alternative fuel.
The Savana family of full-size vans offers many competitive advantages, with standard and available features that include:
Fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmissions
Right-hand (driver-side) cargo doors
Available 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel engine with B20 biodiesel capability
Exceptional cargo space
Available locking rear differential (G80)
Trailer rating of up to 9,900 pounds (4,490 kg) on 3500 passenger van and 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg) on 3500 cargo van.
For 2011, a number of changes, enhancements and new features improve the Savana lineup’s capability and give it greater digital connectivity. They include:
A new, exclusive 3500 passenger van model with the new Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel
The 4.8L V-8 becomes the standard engine on 2500 passenger vans with the 135-inch wheelbase, bringing a more affordable entry-level model with greater fuel economy
StabiliTrak is standard on all cargo and passenger van models
The “G80” locking rear axle is available on all cargo and passenger models
OnStar Generation 9.0 (with six-month Directions & Connections plan) is standard on passenger vans and available on cargo and some cutaway models
XM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth is offered with the available digital radio
A USB port is included with digital radio
An OnStar/XM radio antenna relocation kit available for cargo and cutaway models
Available (dealer-installed) Autonet Mobile WiFi Internet
The new Savana 3500 passenger model with the 6.6L Duramax diesel engine complements the model’s people-hauling capability with exceptional towing capacity. With the new diesel, long-wheelbase models boast a GVWR of 9,900 pounds (4,490 kg), a GCWR of 17,000 pounds (7,711 kg ) and towing rating of 9,700 pounds (4,400 kg).
New 6.6L Duramax diesel
A new, more powerful 6.6L Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 is offered in some Savana models, delivering best-in-class torque and horsepower. Known by its “LGH” engine code, it is rated at 260 horsepower (194 kW) and 525 lb.-ft. of torque (711 Nm). This new Duramax is also more fuel-efficient – up to 11-percent greater fuel economy than the outgoing model – reduces NOx emissions by up to 63 percent and helps enable exceptional towing capacity.
Among the 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel’s new and enhanced features are:
Main bearing profiles changed to enhance oil film thickness
Oil pump flow increased for more pressure at low speeds
A revised turbocharger oil circuit for increased pressure at the turbo and faster oil delivery
Connecting rod pin ends modified to provide increased piston support
New, higher-strength piston design
A new 30,000-psi (2,000 bar) piezo-actuated fuel injection system – capable of operating on ASTM grade B20 biodiesel – ensures more precise fuel delivery, improving emission performance
To meet the more stringent emissions requirements for 2011, the LGH Duramax features a robust EGR cooling system, along with revised turbocharger tuning that helps enhance EGR performance. It also has a large-capacity selective catalytic reduction system. In fact, the new engine features the latest in emission control technology, making it the cleanest Duramax engine ever produced. NOx emissions are reduced by at least 63 percent, compared to the 2010 model. NOx emissions are controlled via a Selective Catalyst Reduction aftertreatment system that uses urea-based Diesel (Emission) Exhaust Fluid (DEF). The DEF is housed in a 5.83-gallon (20 L) tank and needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Electrically heated lines feed the DEF to the emission system to ensure adequate delivery in cold weather.
The 2011 Duramax also includes GM’s second-generation diesel particulate filter system. Unlike most competitors, the Duramax regenerates its diesel particulate filter using a downstream injection of diesel fuel directly into the exhaust stream and can travel up to 700 miles (1,125 km) between regenerations – a 300-mile (482 km) increase over the previous Duramax engine. The use of downstream injection also helps improve engine life by eliminating concerns surrounding the possibility of diesel fuel contaminating engine oil, which can happen when fuel used for regeneration is introduced directly into the cylinder.
The new Duramax will continue to provide outstanding cold-weather performance, with microprocessor-controlled glow plugs capable of gas engine-like start performance in less than three seconds in temperatures as low as -20 degrees F (-29 C), without a block heater. The engine has been developed to operate for at least 200,000 miles (322,000 km) on a rough-duty cycle without the need for a major overhaul; and it is backed with a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
A fuel-operated heater (FOH) also is available for vans equipped with the Duramax 6.6L to quickly provide heat to the vehicle interior in cold weather. The seamlessly integrated system is designed into the Savana chassis, saving customers the time and labor of upfitting an aftermarket system. The electronically controlled, fuel-operated heater operates automatically, turning on and off within parameters that include outside air temperature, fuel level, coolant temperature and whether the engine is running. It features a self-contained, pressurized auxiliary coolant heater (with a surge tank) that uses diesel fuel to generate up to 17,200 Btu/h (5 kW) of heating energy.
GMC Savana offers a choice of five engines. The base engine for light-duty Savana Cargo models is the 4.3L V-6 with multi-port fuel injection. It delivers 195 horsepower (145 kW) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque (353 Nm) and features a central fuel injector that delivers a separate flow of fuel to six individual hybrid injectors for better performance and improved emissions.
Standard on 2500 passenger and cargo vans is a 4.8L V-8 that cranks out 279 horsepower (208 kW) and 294 lb.-ft. of torque (398 Nm).
G1500 and H1500 passenger models and H1500 cargo and conversion models, meanwhile, are powered by the 5.3L V-8. It delivers 310 horsepower (231 kW) and 334 lb.-ft. of torque (453 Nm), providing segment-leading acceleration.
A FlexFuel E85 version of the 5.3L V-8 is available. It delivers the same horsepower and torque as its gasoline counterpart, while running on E85 ethanol fuel or a mixture of E85 and gasoline. E85 comprises 85 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel produced domestically.
Those seeking more power can opt for the 6.0L V-8 – the segment’s most powerful V-8. It delivers 323 horsepower (241 kW) and 373 lb.-ft. of torque (505 Nm), and for 2011 features a fast-idle option, making it easier to run a host of accessories while idling at a worksite.
The 4.8L, 5.3L and 6.0L engines are part of GM’s Gen IV small-block V-8 engine family. Designed for quiet operation, these engines include:
Special friction-reducing polymer coating on piston skirts
Full-floating piston pins
Damping patch on the oil pan (externally mounted)
Timing chain tensioner
Strong engine cradles and mounting systems complement the quiet features of the engine. These systems help reduce vibrations transmitted through the chassis that vehicle passengers would otherwise feel.
Backing the engines’ quietness is the assurance of long-lasting performance. The engine family was validated under extreme conditions, with the 6.0L engine dynamometer-tested to the equivalent of 200,000 miles – 50,000 miles more than other engines in the family. The engines also feature many long-life engine components that can reduce maintenance intervals and costs. The iridium-tip spark plugs, engine coolant, accessory drive belt and sealing gaskets are some of these items.
Some of the stringent durability testing included cycling engines between the peak torque and peak horsepower rpm points – the equivalent of towing a heavy trailer up a steep grade – for 600 straight hours.
The Gen IV V-8 is also engineered to meet stringent emissions standards. In fact, compared to truck engines of a decade ago, the Gen IV engine family is approximately 90-percent cleaner. Cast iron exhaust manifolds matched with dual close-coupled catalytic converters help reduce cold-start emissions, which is the largest source of vehicle emissions.
Savana is equipped with a host of safety features, including head curtain side air bags. They’re standard on all passenger vans, available on cargo vans and provide a higher level of protection in the event of a side impact or a vehicle rollover. Also standard on 12- and 15-passenger models is Enhanced Technology Glass (ETG) for superior occupant retention.
Additional safety features include:
StabiliTrak – standard on all Savana passenger and cargo models
Tire pressure monitoring system – standard on all cargo and passenger models
Flat and convex exterior mirrors for a wider field of vision – standard on all cargo and passenger models
Lap and shoulder belts for the center seats – standard on all passenger models
Four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system with Hydroboost – standard on all Savana models
Dynamic rear proportioning – standard on all Savana models
Driver and front passenger air bags – standard on all Savana models
Daytime Running Lamps – standard on all Savana models.
Savana is available in regular (135-inch / 3,429-mm) and extended (155-inch / 3,937-mm) wheelbase lengths, and can accommodate eight, 12 or 15 people. Cargo vans, available in the same wheelbase lengths, offer seating for two. The cutaways, which can be converted to various commercial, school bus and RV requirements, are available in 139-inch (3,531-mm), 159-inch (4,039-mm) and 177-inch (4,496-mm) wheelbase lengths.
The 1500 Series vans include light-duty models rated at 7,300 pounds (3,311 kg) GVWR. The 2500 Series includes heavy-duty models rated at 8,600 pounds (3,901 kg) GVWR. The heavy-duty 3500 Series includes full-bodied cargo/passenger vans rated at 9,600 pounds (4,354 kg) GVWR with the 6.0L gas V-8 and 9,900 pounds (4,490 kg) with the new Duramax 6.6L diesel. Commercial and RV cutaway chassis feature GVWR ratings of 9,900-14,200 pounds (4,490-6,441kg).
Stable handling, precise steering, superior ride motion control and balance – as well as a quiet, isolated driving experience – are hallmarks of this vehicle. The frame features fully boxed sections for superior strength and rigidity, while extended and tapered front frame rails are used for improved crashworthiness. Also, additional tubular frame cross members are used to increase torsional stiffness.
Savana is assembled at the GM assembly plant in Wentzville, Mo.
Price this car:
MSRP: $28,710 – $46,745
Invoice: $26,700 – $43,454