The 2002 GMC Safari proves adept at trailer towing and heavy hauling because of its construction and rear-drive layout. Few minivans can combine a 5000-pound trailer capacity with eight passengers. Not all people like a truck-like ride over rough surfaces, but when hauling or towing, the Safari proves superb. Don’t expect superior fuel economy, though, despite an improved powertrain. However, the installed long-life spark plugs and engine coolant minimizes maintenance costs.
Safari minivans come in two models, the SLE and SLT. Overall, the GMC Safari makes a good choice for hauling, towing, and carrying eight passengers efficiently.
Body Styles: minivan
Engines: 4.3-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: GMC Safari SLE, GMC Safari SLT
The standard V-6 in the 2002 GMC Safari gets fuel injection for better drivability. The rear axle receives synthetic oil for heat buildup and long bearing life.
Instead of the usual lift-up door, GMC offers rear load doors with left-hand and right-hand sides. The 2002 GMC Safari offers an optional “Dutch” door featuring a liftglass and split tailgate. These rear Dutch doors remain available on the SLE and come with a rear defogger.
Other standard features include trailer wiring, painted-finish bumpers, a roof rack, privacy glass, intermittent wipers, and a temporary spare tire. All Safari models wear 15-inch chrome steel wheels to complete the rugged exterior appearance. The wheelbase measures 111.2 inches, and the overall measurement totals 189.8 inches. Even though the GMC Safari comes up shorter than the Dodge Grand Caravan, it stands six inches taller.
The minivan measurements run 77.5 inches wide, 75 inches high, and 189.8 inches long. The ground clearance reaches 6.8 inches. GM offers multiple exterior paint colors for making the outer appearance suit any taste.
The 2002 GMC Safari carries eight passengers quite easily. The SLE rear passengers seat comfortably in a pair of benches, while the SLT has split-back bench seating. The benches have armrests with the SLT edition. If a driver chooses a seven-passenger configuration, two bucket seats replace the first row of benches. The cargo space measures 170.4 cubic feet with the seats removed.
The Safari offers 34 standard and optional features, making it a good value. Some of the features included as standard equipment are air-conditioning, cruise control, power locks, keyless entry, and a cargo net. Additional features include overhead storage, power steering, built-in cup holders, and three outlets for power. The upper-level SLT adds a power driver’s seat that has six-way adjustability, as well as rear air-conditioning.
Performance & Handling
The 2002 Safari offers a new multipoint system for fuel ejection with the 4.3-liter V-6. The exhaust gas system no longer exists. The power plant produces 190 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. An automatic four-speed transmission includes electronic controls for overdrive and haul/tow mode for better performance. Best shifting with the transmission occurs in Tow/Haul mode when towing and hauling heavy items. Capacities vary among models from 5000 to 5800 pounds. The payload capacity ranges up to 1677 pounds.
Rear-drive or all-wheel drive remains available. The optional all-wheel drive assists the minivan from slipping under adverse conditions by sending power automatically toward the front wheels for traction when needed. Since the Safari has this option, some drivers prefer a traditional, front-drive vehicle. Owners say that it feels more similar to a truck than a minivan. However, for heavy hauling with the added refinements, the 2002 GMC Safari makes a perfect choice.
The 2002 GMC Safari comes with standard front airbags, anti-lock brakes, running lights, and an ignition disabler. Rear headrests have height-adjustability. The minivan has ventilated front disc brakes and rear drum brakes. Other safety features include child seat anchors, an engine immobilizer, child rear door locks, electronic brake force distribution, and daytime running lights. A panic alarm provides an optional safety feature.
EPA Fuel Economy
GMC Safari SLE: 14/18 mpg city/highway
GMC Safari SLT: 14/18 mpg city/highway
- Healthy torque with the V-6
- Trailer rating
- Eight-passenger seating
You Won't Like
- Small foot wells
- Boxy styling
- Poor fuel economy
A minivan with good ride quality, refinement, and truck capabilities.
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