The GMC Savana has been around for as long as the classic Mel Gibson movie Braveheart, and it will take a brave heart to drive one on a daily basis. One would think that after two decades of production, the Savana would have improved or ceased to exist, but no, it’s still chugging along at full speed and barely breaking the speed limit while doing so. For 2021, the 4.3-liter V6 remains the go-to option in standard guise. You can have your Savana in two wheelbase configurations and there are two trim levels on offer, as well as three engine choices. Long wheelbase versions can seat up to 15 people, and the maximum GVWR ranges from 8,600 to 9,600 pounds between the various configurations. Competition comes in the form of the more dynamically capable and modern feeling Ford Transit Passenger Van. The Savana can still hold its own in terms of being a pure workhorse, but lags behind in most other categories, such as basic comfort and road holding.
2021 GMC Savana Passenger Van Changes: What’s the difference vs 2020 GMC Savana Passenger Van?
There are hardly any changes to the Savana for the 2021 model year, the most notable being the replacement of the old 341-horsepower 6.0-liter V8 gas engine with a new 401-hp 6.6-liter engine.
Savana Passenger Van Exterior
There’s no other way to describe the exterior of the 2021 GMC than as a metal box on four wheels. GMC lists standard “features” such as a black grille, black manual-folding outside mirrors, and dual-halogen composite headlamps with daytime running lamps. You also get Solar-Ray deep-tinted glass and a swing-out passenger-side door. All models are fitted with 16-inch steel wheels, and chrome can be optionally added to the grille if you’d like.
The regular wheelbase van measures 135.2 inches between axles, while the extended van comes in with a wheelbase of 155.1 inches. Total length is 223.95 inches for the regular wheelbase van and 243.95 on the extended wheelbase. Total width without the side mirrors is 79.25 inches across the range, and both wheelbase configurations stand 84.5 inches tall. Ground clearance is a decent 9.7 inches in the front and 8.6 inches in the rear, and the curb weight ranges from 5,830 pounds for the regular wheelbase to 6,169 lbs for the extended wheelbase in its heaviest guise.
Max Width79.3 in
Engine and Transmission
We appreciate the variety of engine and transmission options on offer in the Savana Passenger Van. The base engine for 2021 is a 4.3-liter V6 engine producing 276 horsepower and 298 lb-ft of torque. Next up is an optional 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that produces a low 181 hp, but makes up for it with 369 lb-ft of torque available from only 2,000 rpm. The diesel engine also received a new eight-speed automatic transmission in 2020, shared with the base V6. One V8 engine is on offer; a new-for-2021 gas-only 6.6-liter producing 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque, replacing the old 6.0-liter. The V8 option is clearly the most powerful, but it comes with a drawback; it will suck your wallet dry thanks to its bad fuel economy. A six-speed heavy-duty transmission is available as standard on the V8, while the other engines make do with a slicker eight-speed auto. Maximum towing rates stretch between 6,700 lbs and 9,600 lbs, aided by the Savana’s strictly RWD platform.