2010 GMC Savana Performance

$8,127 - $11,111

2010 GMC Savana Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 GMC Savana was new.


Performance: 7.8

The Savana is a large, truck-based van, so you shouldn't expect it to be particularly agile. Still, for the class, reviewers say the Savana drives decently. They like its powerful engine options and beefy towing and hauling capabilities. But a few point out that the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit Connect are more nimble. However, the Sprinter starts at about $10,000 more than the Savana, and the less expensive Transit Connect can't come close to hauling as much as the Savana can.

  • "Broad range of powertrain choices … good towing capabilities." -- Car and Driver
  • "If you are used to driving a minivan, the Savana may prove to be too much vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Among full-size vans, the Savana is pleasant to drive but still can't match the European-style driving dynamics of the Sprinter." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

One of the things reviewers like most about the GMC Savana is its wide range of powertrain options. The smallest engine is a 2.3-liter V6 that makes 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Few reviewers have driven a Savana with that engine, but some speculate that it could be underpowered, given the van's size and weight.

Buyers can choose from three V8 engines, all of which reviewers like. The smallest is 4.8 liters and makes 280 horsepower and 296 pound-feet of torque. The middle V8 is 5.3 liters and makes 310 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque. The largest is a 6.0-liter V8 that makes 323 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque. All three of the V8s are flex-fuel capable, meaning they can run on gasoline or E85 ethanol. According to the EPA , the 5.3-liter V8 gets 13/18 mpg city/highway. All Savana 1500 models come with a standard four-speed automatic transmission.

For the 2500 and 3500 models, buyers can also opt for a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 or the gasoline V8s available on the 1500 models. The turbodiesel makes 250 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, making it a great choice for buyers who do a lot of heavy towing. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on 2500 and 3500 models.

  • "Either of the powerful V8 engines endows the big van with adequate merging and passing abilities, even when laden with passengers and cargo." -- Edmunds
  • "The V8 can be fuel-thirsty, especially when the vehicle is loaded with passengers or heavy equipment." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The Savana's large size and hauling capabilities mean that it’s not very agile, but few vehicles in this class are. For the most part, reviewers are fine with how the Savana drives, but a few point out that the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is more nimble. The much-smaller Ford transit Connect doesn't have the Savana's size, but most reviewers say it's more comfortable and easier to drive day-to-day.

The Savana has rear-wheel drive standard, but all-wheel drive is available. 

  • "Every move is deliberate, and maneuverability is low on the absolute scale." -- Car and Driver
  • "A robust frame, rack-and-pinion steering (half-ton models only) and standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes give the 2010 GMC Savana a respectable ride and decent handling characteristics." -- Edmunds
  • "Although hardly the vehicle you'd want for running laps at the race track, the … GMC Savana is not as truck-like to drive as one might expect. GM has paid due diligence to the steering and brakes, giving them a firm feel that instills confidence even when fully loaded." -- Kelley Blue Book

Hauling &Towing

Like most vans in the class, the Savana has beefy hauling and towing capabilities. Depending on the configuration, 1500 models can haul up to 1,905 pounds. The 2500 model can haul up to 2,708 pounds when properly configured, while 3500 models can haul up to 3,591 pounds with a regular wheelbase and 3,270 pounds with the extended wheelbase. Those ratings are comparable to what the Chevy Express and Ford E-Series vans can handle, but higher than what the Ford Transit Connect can haul.

When it comes to towing, the Savana is capable as well. The 1500 models can tow up to 6,200 pounds when properly configured, while the 2500 and 3500 models can tow up to 9,600 pounds and 9,700 pounds, respectively. The 3500 extended wheelbase Savana can tow up to 9,300 pounds. The Savana's towing capacity is about average for the class, and reviewers report that even when heavily loaded or pulling a large load, the Savana remains composed.

  • "Cornering and braking do differ depending upon cargo weight, but with the heavy-duty upgrades for the brakes, transmission and suspension, the Savana can be outfitted to deal with the heaviest loads and still remain quite comfortable." -- Kelley Blue Book

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