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1999 GMC Safari Review
A perfect work van or family hauler.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 1999 GMC Safari is a rear and all-wheel drive, midsize van manufactured by General Motors. The van shared its platform with the Chevrolet Astro, and both vans were introduced by GM in 1985 to compete with newly launched vans from Dodge, Plymouth, and Toyota.
The 1999 GMC Safari uses powertrain components from GM light trucks, giving it exceptional hauling and load-carrying capabilities. The Safari and Astro are more or less the same van with different badges with differences so slight that most people would not pick up on them.
Engines: 4.3-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: GMC Safari SL, GMC Safari SLE, GMC Safari SLT
The 1999 GMC Safari is available in two new exterior paints and full-body colors. Other additions for this year include restyled outside mirrors and wheels, new optional running boards, and an overhead console. The all-wheel-drive versions of the Safari have a new AutoTrac transfer case. All models get an optional OnStar communication system.
The 1999 GMC Safari is only available in one size, which is a three-door regular cab with a wheelbase of 190 inches. The passenger side has a sliding door, but the driver’s side does not have one. The rear door can either be a dual swing-out door, which is standard, or Dutch doors where the rear window can be flipped up and the lower doors swung out. This particular option also adds a defogger to the rear doors.
The 1999 GMC Safari offers quite a spacious interior with a towing capacity of up to 6000 pounds and a maximum seating capacity of eight. The eight-seat models have lots of headroom and legroom for every occupant, but the rear cargo room is sacrificed to a large extent. The Dutch doors mentioned earlier make loading and unloading a lot easier and more convenient. Moreover, it also improves visibility for the driver. The standard doors have a big blind spot at its center because of the thick vertical bar.
The dashboard of the 1999 GMC Safari is conveniently laid out with lots of interior storage options. All the controls are within easy reach of the passenger and driver, but one of the best features of the van would be its optional dual sound system. With this system installed, front and rear passengers can listen to different audio sources at the same time. The tall step-up and the narrow bottoms of the doorways make entry and exit to the front a little problematic. The seats themselves are not fully comfortable because of the cramped foot wells. Nevertheless, headroom is abundant for everyone inside. Rear passengers are much more comfortable with the abundant space in the second and third rows. However, the third-row bench is mostly left unused because nobody finds it easy to sit there.
Performance & Handling
The 1999 GMC Safari is powered by a 4.3-liter V-6 engine that delivers 190 horsepower. The engine is only available with a four-speed automatic transmission. The rear-drive system is best used for hauling, but it actually rides more like a truck than a car. The rear axle tends to hop around on bumpy roads, putting the van off balance and off the course. The suspension floats a little too much on wavy roads and pounds over broken pavements. Rear drive is standard, but an optional all-wheel-drive system is available that automatically transfers the engine’s power to the front wheels for the best traction.
The 1999 GMC Safari's rear drive versions are better haulers and towers, capable of carrying more loads quickly and effectively. The four-wheel drive version of the van delivers a more comfortable performance with easier entry and exit and better economy.
The 1999 GMC Safari comes with dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, integrated child-safety seats, and a child-safety lock for the sliding door. The van received three out of five stars for driver safety and four out of five stars for passenger safety during frontal impact tests conducted by the NHTSA.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Spacious interior
- Lots of torque on the V-6
- Standard ABS are standard
You Won't Like
- Poor fuel economy
- Poor exterior design
A perfect work van or family hauler.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet Astro
- Chrysler Town & Country
- Dodge Grand Caravan