GMC Savana For Vanlife: 10 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the GMC Savana for Vanlife?

With a low-upfront cost, optional 4-wheel drive, & a long wheelbase, the Savana van is a good option.

But how does it stack up against other popular Budget Americana models like the Ford EconolineChevy Express, Chevy Astro, & Dodge Ram van?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the GMC Savana

The Savana is stealthy, easy to fix, & inexpensive – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like the GMC Savana:

  1. Affordable: The GMC Savana is a great deal if you’re looking for a van to convert on a budget. Used Savanas can go for as little as $5,000.
  2. Widely Available: The Savana is very commonly used as a work van, so there’s plenty out there on the used car market.
  3. Pretty Stealthy: Because the Savana is used as a work van, it’s pretty easy to stealth out so you can camp wherever you want without getting the dreaded knock.
  4. Easy to Fix: GMC parts are easy to come by and inexpensive to purchase. Plus there’s lots of info online on how to work on these vans.
  5. Comes in AWD: The GMC comes in a AWD option for all of those off-roading adventures.
  6. Long Wheelbase: While the ceiling height is pretty low, the Savana has a relatively long wheelbase, which means you can pack a lot of amenities into these vans.
  7. High Payload Capacity: The GMC Savana 3500 has a payload capacity of around 4,000 pounds. You can load these vans up with a heavy build and lots of gear with no problems.
  8. Can Tow if Needed: The GMC Savana can tow up to 7,400 pounds. You can easily tow a small trailer with the power of the Savana engines.
  9. Lasts a Long Time: When shopping for used Savanas, you’ll see many from the early 2000s, which is a great testament to how long these vehicles can stay on the road.
  10. Fits in Parking Garages: The low profile means the GMC Savana can easily fit into almost any parking garage.

5 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Savana van

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the GMC Savana.

Here are 5 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Savana:

  1. Low Roof: The roof of the Savana is not tall enough to stand up inside. However, many Savana owners install aftermarket poptops or roof extensions.
  2. Outdated Exterior: The 2023 Savana looks pretty much the same as the 2000 Savana. If you’re looking for a stylish van, this probably isn’t the vehicle for you.
  3. Not Fuel Efficient: Like its counterpart, the Chevy Express, the GMC Savana is a gas guzzler. It gets just 13 miles per gallon combined.
  4. Plasticky Interior: The interior build of the car can feel cheaply made, and hasn’t been updated much in recent years.
  5. Hard to Maneuver: Because of the boxy shape of the car, owners say it can be a little tricky to maneuver.

 

11 Amazing GMC Savana Van Builds

With a long wheelbase, high payload capacity, & adequate interior space, the Savana van provides a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 11 of the coolest GMC Savana vans ever:

Build #11: Savana with Convertible Bed and Slide-Out Gear Storage

  • Highlights: This bright Savana build has a high bench seat that converts into a large bed with some extra cushions. Underneath the bed is slide-out storage for a bike or skis. The one-wall kitchen has lots of countertop space and a sink.
  • Van: 2000 GMC Savana
  • Owner: @homeiswhereyouparkit

 

Build #10: Simple Modern Savana Conversion with Side-Facing Bed

  • Highlights: This simple Savana DIY build has a side-facing rear bed with storage underneath, and overhead storage above. The one-wall kitchen has a hidden sink and pantry storage underneath. 
  • Van: GMC Savana
  • Owner: @dietravelbugs

 

Build #9: 4×4 GMC Savana with Raised Bed and Awning

  • Highlights: This off-road ready GMC Savana has a cozy interior design with a high bed and storage underneath. The “kitchen” area has a fridge and room for a stove. There’s an awning outside the van for outdoor hangouts and cooking.
  • Van: GMC Savana
  • Owner: @bigfoote4x4

 

Build #8: High Roof Green Savana with Platform Bed

  • Highlights: This Diesel Savana has an extra-high roof for standing room inside. There’s a platform bed at the back, and a large kitchen area along the sidewall. There’s even enough room for a large dual-zone Dometic fridge. 
  • Van: 2000 GMC Savana 3500 Turbo Diesel
  • Owner: @make_the_van_a_camper

 

Build #7: Savana with Raised Top and Wood Stove

  • Highlights: This gorgeous all-wood Savana build has a raised roof for standing room inside. It has a rear platform bed, a kitchenette with a sink, fridge, and room for a camp stove. But the best feature of all–the wood stove heater.
  • Van: GMC Savana
  • Owner: @project.vanlife

 

Build #6: Savana with Fixed Platform Bed and Tiled Kitchen Backsplash

  • Highlights: This Savana build has a side-facing platform bed with storage underneath that can be accessed from the rear doors. The simple kitchen setup has countertop space, storage underneath, and a sink. The DIY tiled backsplash and spice racks are a gorgeous touch.
  • Van: GMC Savana
  • Owner: @vanteria_to_freedom

 

Build #5: Savana with Side-Facing Bed and Roof Deck

  • Highlights: This beautiful DIY Savana build has a side-facing rear bed with some handy countertops in the middle of the van. There’s built-in overhead storage and a roof deck for hanging out on top of the van.
  • Van: GMC Savana 3500
  • Owner: @famille_sans_plans

 

Build #4: GMC Savana with Slide-Out Bed and Long Countertop

  • Highlights: This simple Savana build has a slide-out bed on one wall, and a long countertop on the other. The countertop has storage underneath, a sink, and a room for a fridge. The whole DIY conversion is wood-paneled for a super cozy feel.
  • Van: GMC Savana
  • Owner: @doriandewinter

 

Build #3: Raised-Top Savana with Toilet and Huge Roof Rack

  • Highlights: This Savana has a 3rd party raised-top that allows you to stand inside at the kitchenette area. It comes with a sink, fridge, and even a small chemical toilet. The roof rack on this van has a light bar, roof box, and extra space to store outdoor gear.
  • Van: 2019 GMC Savana
  • Owner: @vanlifetrader

 

Build #2: DIY Savana with Convertible Bed and Pop Top

  • Highlights: This 4×4 Savana is made for all things adventure. There’s sleeping room in the pop top, as well as the convertible bed inside the van. The rear of the van has a rack that holds six mountain bikes.
  • Van: 2019 GMC Savana
  • Owner: @vanlifeepic

 

Build #1: Pop-Top Savana That Seats Five and Seats Four

  • Highlights: The huge pop-top on this Contra Vans Savana conversion adds some spacious sleeping room up above. During the day, this van can seat five people, and at night the seats fold back into a bed. This conversion also comes with a dual-zone Dometic fridge.
  • Van: GMC Savana
  • Owner: @contravans

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the GMC Savana van, let’s see how it stacks up against the Ford Econoline, Chevy Express, Chevy Astro, & Dodge Ram van.

 

GMC Savana Cost

Cost: GMC Savana vs Chevy Express vs Ford Econoline vs Chevy Astro vs Dodge Ram Van

ModelNewUsedPrice
GMC Savana$38,100$26,700Check Price
Chevy AstroN/A$7,750Check Price
Chevy Express$38,100$26,995Check Price
Ford EconolineN/A$15,750Check Price
Dodge RamN/A$8,795Check Price

 

GMC Savana Dimensions

Dimensions: GMC Savana vs Chevy Express vs Ford Econoline vs Chevy Astro vs Dodge Ram Van

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
GMC Savana55.1 inches126.8 inches62 inches224.1 inches
Chevy Astro46.9 inches126 inches55.9 inches189.8 inches
Chevy Express55.1 inches126.8 inches62 inches224.1 inches
Ford Econoline53.9 inches121.4 inches73.6 inches212 inches
Dodge Ram Van56 inches124.8 inches73.5 inches192.6 inches

 

GMC Savana Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: GMC Savana vs Chevy Express vs Ford Econoline vs Chevy Astro vs Dodge Ram Van

ModelCityHighwayCombined
GMC Savana11 MPG16 MPG13 MPG
Chevy Astro16 MPG22 MPG19 MPG
Chevy Express11 MPG16 MPG13 MPG
Ford Econoline13 MPG17 MPG15 MPG
Dodge Ram Van11 MPG14 MPG12 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is the GMC Savana Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Savana van: It’s inexpensive, widely available, & very capable – but it may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Low Upfront Cost
  • Comes in 4-Wheel Drive
  • Fits in Parking Garages
  • Low Roof
  • Outdated Exterior
  • Not Fuel Efficient

So should you get one?

Maybe! We’d recommend the GMC Savana for vanlife over other Budget Americana vans like the Chevy ExpressFord Econoline, & Dodge Ram van for vanlifers who like Chevy/GMC brand and want AWD. The Chevy Astro is also a good option. Don’t care about AWD? The Chevy Express offers a slightly larger platform for a similar price.

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