GMC redesigned its full-size vans for the first time in seven years for the 2003 model year. The 2003 Savanas got upgraded powertrains, fresh features and an updated appearance. Three industry firsts in full-size vans were available: all-wheel drive, an optional left-side door and unique side access panels for use on commercial vans. Front-end styling was revised to give the Savana a greater family resemblance to other General Motors’ trucks.
GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability system was added to 15-passenger models in 2004. Chevrolet’s Express is closely related to the Savana and sells far better. For 2005, StabiliTrak is also standard on regular-wheelbase 12-passenger vans.
As part of the 2003 redesign, the Savana’s front end gained a new grille, bumper, fascia, hood and fenders. Upscale reflector-type headlights were installed, and the taillamps were revamped.
Light-duty vans have rack-and-pinion steering, which promises greater agility. Front and rear suspensions are modified from those used on GM’s full-size pickup trucks. The rear suspensions use a solid axle with multileaf springs and gas shocks. All Savanas have 16-inch wheels.
Passenger vans come in regular and extended lengths. The regular-length model has a 135-inch wheelbase and measures 224.1 inches long overall, while the extended-length van rides on a 155-inch wheelbase and stretches 244.1 inches long overall. Each of these vans is 79.4 inches wide and at least 81.6 inches tall.
Regular-length passenger and Cargo Vans can be fitted with a 60/40-split left-side entry and loading door. The side access panels feature remote releases and are limited to work-oriented models. They permit easier accessibility to tools and parts from either side of the van.
Depending on the configuration, Savana passenger vans can carry eight, 12 or 15 occupants. Cargo Vans seat a maximum of two people. Both Radio Data System technology and GM’s OnStar communication system are available.
The Savana can be equipped with one of four engines: a 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6; a 285-hp, 4.8-liter V-8; a 295-hp, 5.3-liter V-8; or a 300-hp, 6.0-liter V-8. Each engine teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates a tow/haul mode. Rear- and all-wheel-drive models are available.
All-disc antilock brakes and daytime running lights are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.