Minivan; Built in USA
  • 3-door van
  • 3-door van
  • 3-door van
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $7,000*

1996 GMC Safari

1997 GMC Safari

1992 GMC Safari

1992 GMC Safari w/Dutch-door option

1997 GMC Safari interior

  • Antilock brakes
  • Cargo room (extended-length)
  • Optional all-wheel-drive traction
  • Passenger room
  • Trailer-towing capability
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride

Safari is fine if you need a beast of burden, but don’t want a full-size van. As a daily people-mover, however, a front-drive minivan would be wiser.


GMC Safari and Chevrolet Astro models were identical except for names and series designations. They are truck based, rear- or all-wheel-drive minivans that have higher payload and towing ratings than front-drive counterparts.The all-wheel-drive option, 4-wheel antilock brakes, and an extended bodystyle were added for 1990. Also new for ’90 was a restyled instrument panel that included a larger glovebox. Five-passenger seating was standard, but seating for up to eight occupants might be installed. Developing 150 horsepower, the standard 4.3-liter V6 engine hooked to a 4-speed automatic transmission.

Yearly Updates

1991 Safari
A high-output V6, rated 175 horsepower, became available in 2WD passenger Safaris in ’91.
1992 Safari
During the 1992 model year, a more powerful V6 engine option–rated 200 horsepower–became available. So did a new rear-door option, dubbed Dutch doors, featuring a one-piece glass liftgate with separately opening split panel doors below.
1993 Safari
A revised 4-speed automatic transmission with electronic controls arrived in ’93. Base engines jumped from 150 to 165 horsepower. A driver-side airbag became optional in mid-year.
1994 Safari
A driver-side airbag was installed in all Safaris for ’94. Other new safety features included side guard beams in both front doors and the sliding side door, plus a center high-mounted stoplamp in the roof.
1995 Safari
Facelifted for 1995, all models got extended bodies and a 190-horsepower engine. Regular-length vans were dropped.
1996 Safari
A passenger airbag went into 1996 models, which featured a revised dashboard with a locking glovebox. A new interior engine cover increased front foot room, and had built-in cupholders. New ducts heated and cooled rear seats.
1997 Safari
Speed-sensitive power steering and daytime running lights led the list of changes for ’97.
1998 Safari
There were no significant changes for 1998, however, Ford dropped the rival Aerostar.
1999 Safari
Changes were limited to optional running boards and redesigned outside mirrors.
2000 Safari
Safaris gained rear child-seat anchors, a standard third-row bench seat for 7- or 8-passenger capacity, and a larger fuel tank (now made of plastic). Headlamps now switched on automatically in low-light conditions. Other new features included “flash-to-pass” headlamps, battery-rundown protection, and retained accessory power. A new Tow/Haul mode optimized shift points on the automatic transmission for heavy hauling and towing. The V6 engine was mildly updated for quieter operation and lower emissions. Maximum trailering capacities were increased: to 6000 pounds for 2WD models and 5800 with AWD.
2001 Safari
Safari lost its base passenger model, leaving SLE and SLT trim levels for 2001. A new seven-passenger option replaced the second-row bench with twin bucket seats.
2002 Safari
For 2002, passenger versions got standard deep-tint rear glass and cargo versions were available with remote keyless entry and a rear heater.
2003 Safari
Like the similar Astro, Safari gets all-disc brakes and 16-inch wheels on all models.
2004 Safari
The Safari is unchanged for 2004.
2005 Safari
Safari is unchanged for 2005. General Motors says this is its last year.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

All Safaris came with a 4.3-liter V6, but horsepowers from 150 to 200 might be found. The high-output option started at 175 horsepower, but jumped to 200 in ’92. A year later, the base V6 gained 15 horses. All engines after 1994 are rated 190 horsepower. A 4-speed overdrive automatic was the only transmission.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 150-165
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230-235
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/262
Engine HP 175-200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 230-260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Spacious inside with either the regular- or extended-length body, Safari vans can be fitted to tow up to 6000 pounds and seat up to eight. With those eight seats, regular-length models have little rear cargo room. Optional rear “Dutch doors” make loading more convenient and improve visibility. Standard full swing-out doors have a large center blind spot due to their thick vertical bar.

Rear-drive is great for hauling, but Safari/Astro rides and handles more like a truck than a car. The rear axle hops around on bumpy roads, making it difficult to remain on course. The suspension pounds over broken pavement and allows too much floating on wavy roads.

Although the standard V6 has plenty of torque for hauling heavy loads, that muscle does not translate into brisk pickup. Best to pick a Safari with the optional engine, or a later model if performance matters. An extended AWD Safari averaged 18.3 mpg.


Model Tested: 2002 GMC Safari AWD SLE

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 3
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 3
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 10


Value - 4

Total: 45


3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
111.0 176.8 77.0 76.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
151.8 27.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.9 41.6 36.5
3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
111.0 186.8 77.0 76.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
170.4 27.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.9 41.6 36.5
3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
111.0 189.8 77.0 76.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
170.4 27.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.9 41.6 36.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Safari 3-door van


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 58
Injury 68
Theft 37

Trouble Spots

Cold-starting problems
Description: New valve guide seals should eliminate the blue smoke from the tailpipe during cold starting. (1990-93)
Description: The sliding door is hard to open or close, or does not glide smoothly because various parts are out of adjustment. (1990-93)
Engine misfire
Description: The engine speed may flare during downshifts between third and second due to a faulty transmission control solenoid. (1996)
Engine noise
Description: A whooping noise coming from the engine may be caused by the exhaust valves sticking in their guides. New valve guide seals should correct the problem. (1996)
Engine noise
Description: A knocking sound from the engine may require either an oil filter having a built-in check valve, a revised PROM, or replacement of the main bearings. (1990-95)
Engine temperature
Description: Overheating and coolant loss may be due to rough surface on radiator filler neck. Neck should be sanded smooth and cap replaced. (1999-2000)
Hard starting
Description: The fuel injector wires tend to get pinched when the air filter is reinstalled. (1990-93)
Transmission leak
Description: The rear seal on the transmission (extension housing seal) may leak on vans with a one-piece drive shaft. (1990-94)

Recall History

Description: Bucket seat’s knob-recliner mechanism may loosen and cause bolt failure, allowing seatback to recline suddenly.
Description: Fuel lines at tank were improperly tightened and could loosen.
Description: On a few vans, left lower control-arm bolt could loosen, fatigue, and break.
Description: The windshield-wiper motor may fail on certain vehicles. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Outboard-seatbelt webbing on right rear bucket seat can separate during crash.
1996-98 w/integrated child seats
Description: Seatbelt-retractor clutch spring and/or pawl spring in child seat may be missing.
Description: On certain vehicles, the outside-rearview-mirror switch may short circuit. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Audible “fasten seatbelt” warning may not sound or may terminate too soon.
Description: Multifunction switch may develop an open circuit, causing stop lamps and hazard lamps to become inoperative.
Description: Poorly manufactured steering knuckles on some vehicles may allow for road contamination to enter and wear down the ball joint, resulting in difficulty controlling the vehicle

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.