1997 GMC Safari

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1997 GMC Safari Review

Full-size-van features with minivan handling and price.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 1997 GMC Safari is a slight oddity in the minivan market. While it can hold its own against other minivans as a family vehicle, it has a few options that typically only show up on full-size vans. Standard equipment covers a powerful six-cylinder engine and rear drive with all-wheel drive available as an option. Beyond that, Safari buyers also have a cargo van and a camper towing package available as options.

While the GMC Safari is a solid minivan, it also has potential as a commercial vehicle. Its muscular nature allows it to carry cargo loads that most minivans are not able to handle. The cargo van option gives it exceptional interior space to carry those loads at the expense of passenger seating. With better fuel economy and a lower price than full-size vans that normally have these features, some businesses with lighter load requirements might find the Safari to be an economic choice.

The Range

Body Styles: minivan
Engines: 4.3-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: GMC Safari SL, GMC Safari SLX, GMC Safari SLE

What's New

The 1997 GMC Safari has an upgraded automatic transmission with lighted entry and running lights now available. It also receives some additional color options.

Exterior

The 1997 GMC Safari is a modest-sized van, measuring at 189.8 inches long with a 111-inch wheel base. Outside the smaller size, the styling has more in common with a full-size van rather than the more typical minivans on the market. The cargo and passenger versions are visually identical from the exterior, and optional features include a camper towing package, rally wheels, and alloy wheels.

Interior

The 1997 GMC Safari has a large, spacious interior. Air-conditioning, AM/FM radio, and a cassette player are standard on all models. Available optional equipment includes bucket seats, keyless entry, cruise control, power locks, and power windows. The SL, rather unusually, has a cargo option that removes the rear seating, which may appeal to some commercial users that are looking for a cargo van. While smaller, the lower price and better fuel economy might tip the scale in its favor for some drivers.

Performance & Handling

The 1997 GMC Safari has solid performance across the board. The engine is powerful enough to give in decent acceleration, and the handling and maneuverability are fairly typical for a minivan its size. The all-wheel drive option can help traction significantly in slippery conditions.

Safety

All 1997 GMC Safari models are equipped with dual-front airbags and four-wheel anti-lock brakes as standard safety features.

EPA Fuel Economy

GMC Safari Cargo two-wheel drive: 15/21 mpg city/highway
GMC Safari Passenger two-wheel drive: 15/20mpg city/highway
GMC Safari Cargo all-wheel drive: 15/20 mpg city/highway
GMC Safari Passenger all-wheel drive: 14/17 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Cargo option
  • Powerful rear-drive vehicle
  • All-wheel drive option

You Won't Like

  • Full-size vans may be better suited for cargo carrying

Sum Up

Full-size-van features with minivan handling and price.

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