2003 GMC Safari

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$22,050

starting MSRP

2003 GMC Safari

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2003 GMC Safari trim comparison will help you decide.

2003 GMC Safari review: Our expert's take

Vehicle Overview
Like the similar Chevrolet Astro, the Safari is GMC’s long-lived midsize van; it dates back to 1985. The Safari is truck-based and remains available in passenger and cargo-carrying versions with either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Base, SLE and upscale SLT trim levels of the passenger-carrying Safari are available; the SLE and SLT trim designations are actually option groups.

For 2003, larger standard 16-inch wheels and tires are installed on all models, and aluminum wheels are standard on the SLE and SLT. The braking system has been improved. More affordable entry-level models have also been added. Passenger models seat up to eight occupants and can tow trailers up to 5,400 pounds.

Chevrolet also offers the front-wheel-drive (FWD) Venture minivan, but GMC has nothing smaller than the Safari. GMC sells far fewer Safaris than Chevrolet does with its Astro, but GMC fans tend to be loyal to the brand.

Exterior
All Safaris ride a 111.2-inch wheelbase and stretch 189.8 inches long overall, which are the same measurements for the Astro. A regular-length Dodge Caravan is nearly as long as the Safari, but the Safari is 6 inches taller.

A sliding door is installed only on the passenger side of the Safari. Side-hinged swing-open cargo doors at the rear are standard. Optional rear Dutch doors consist of a swing-up rear window on top and twin, swing-out, half-height doors on bottom. A rear defogger is included with the Dutch-door arrangement.

Interior
Eight-passenger seating is standard. Rear occupants get a pair of three-passenger benches in the SLE version. An optional seven-passenger configuration for the SLT puts two second-row buckets (in place of the bench) and a bench seat at the rear. Cargo volume totals 170.4 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats removed. All versions have a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and power windows, locks and mirrors.

Under the Hood
A 190-horsepower, 4.3-liter Vortec V-6 engine mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. A Tow/Haul mode in the transmission promises the best shift points when hauling heavy goods or towing a trailer or boat. Safaris have payload ratings between 1,495 and 1,636 pounds, and towing capacities range between 5,100 and 5,800 pounds.

Optional AWD ordinarily sends full engine power to the back wheels. When the wheels begin to slip, the system automatically delivers power to the front wheels until the Safari is able to regain traction.

Safety
All-disc antilock brakes and daytime running lights are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available.

Driving Impressions
Evaluated by size and overall driving feel, the Safari and the similar Astro look and behave more like a scaled-down GMC Savana or Chevrolet Express full-size van than like FWD minivans. Despite recent refinements and a healthy helping of comfort and convenience features, their RWD or AWD layouts inevitably produce more of a trucklike sensation than you’d experience in a FWD minivan.

For burly hauling capacity and a spacious cargo hold, the Safari serves as a useful compromise. But for everyday driving, most people would be more at ease in a conventional, FWD minivan.

 

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide
Posted on 2/26/03

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.8
  • Interior design 4.0
  • Performance 4.2
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 3.5
  • Reliability 4.8

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Never Want Any Other Vehicle

Unfortunately, it can't last forever. Now that the GMC Safari is no longer I'll have to find something else. This is the best vehicle that I've ever had. My parents had a GMC Safari years before I purchased mine. I drove it once and wanted one of my own. It took a while but it happened in 2005. Since I got this van it has been to the east coast, as far south as the South Banks of NC, north to Toledo, Ontario...cross country to the west, Whidbey Island, the San Juan Islands, Oregon...cross country back to Pennsylvania. I could get behind the wheel on any day and know that I was going to get where I was going. It has been more than reliable. 14 years old and I would rather get this van repaired than buy something else. Sadly, I will have to. Guess I will have to change to the Savanna...it better live up to the Safari.

3.6

great van for family or work.

i own 2 of them in my business. good for hauling people or cargo. tows a trailer with ease. very reliable. and decent on gas.

3.6

good all around vehicle

sturdy and reliable, handles city driving well. mountain driving was good, braking was very good. stereo was o.k. very good viewing access all the vehicle. engine had good power.

See all 4 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by GMC
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
72 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

2001

Chevrolet Astro

$21,850

starting MSRP

1999

GMC Savana 1500

$20,059

starting MSRP

2000

GMC Safari

$20,304

starting MSRP