GMC Safari

The GMC Safari is a midsize van manufactured and sold by the GMC Truck Company from 1985 to 2005. The Chevrolet Astro and the Pontiac Safari also share its platform. Pontiac retains the same name for the vehicle because the company was part of the Pontiac/GMC division. Pontiac has since been discontinued. The GMC Safari comes equipped with rear-wheel drive and sells as a cargo van as well as a passenger van. Aftermarket convertors use these cars to make small conversion vans.

More on the GMC Safari
GMC Safari Origins

The GMC Safari is often referred to as a minivan, but it measures larger than other minivans of its time and a bit smaller than full-size vans. It uses powertrains that common with light trucks from the GM marque, but it remains different from trucks in that the chassis has a unibody structure and a front sub-frame for supporting the front suspension and engine.

About the GMC Safari

The GMC Safari is known as a very reliable and durable minivan with low ownership costs. The van brags of much popularity with aftermarket or "backyard" converters. The modifications are quite extensive for the GMC Safari, and the van can be modified for both street and offroad purposes. Some of the vans have their original small-block engine removed and replaced by a more powerful small-block V-8 engine. This switch is simple for the GMC Safari, since most of the factory drivetrain components suit both engines.

The truck-like design of the GMC Safari also makes it a common choice for campers and offroad enthusiasts. The van contains a capable drivetrain and offers significant cargo and passenger space. The suspension system can be lifted, making it easier to add bigger tires and increase the van’s ground clearance with very few other changes to its exterior.

Apart from its popularity in the U.S., the GMC Safari also has a cult following in Japan, despite the fact that GMC only offers the Safari as a left-hand drive vehicle in the country.

GMC Safari Features

2005 marks the last model year for the GMC Safari and its twin, the Chevrolet Astro. Throughout its production, the van maintained its position as America’s only truck-like van, while retaining its basic design. This means that it has a single body length and a right-side sliding door. It contains the same 4.3-liter V-6 engine that powers its earlier versions and comes with an automatic transmission.

The 2005 GMC Safari offers both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive versions, and the passenger version seat up to eight people. It has anti-lock disc brakes on all four wheels as a standard feature. However, side airbags and traction control are not available in any version of the Safari. Another standard feature of the GMC Safari includes a full-height rear cargo door. However, the model also comes with Dutch doors and upper glass doors that open separately as viable options.

The GMC Safari is also available as a two-seat cargo van. It has a lot of space inside for passengers and cargo, and it can pull a maximum of 5,500 pounds with the right equipment. In some cases, the GMC Safari has been known to tow as much as 6,000 pounds. The all-wheel drive version of the car can pull as much as 5,000 pounds with proper equipment. Such high pulling and towing capabilities are rare in minivans. In fact, most other minivans produced around the time of the GMC Safari can only tow about 3,000 to 3,500 pounds.

GMC Safari Evolution

GMC introduced the Safari in 1985 with three engine options: a 2.5-liter Tech IV straight-four engine with 98 hp, and two 4.3-liter V-6 engines that deliver 165 hp and 200 hp. The van’s design shows similarities to that of the GM F-body and X-body, with common additions including a bolt-on subframe with the front suspension. The rear of the van has a leaf-spring suspension.

The GMC Safari initially offered only rear-wheel drive, but an all-wheel drive (AWD) version was introduced in 1990. It marks the first U.S.-built minivan to be fitted with all-wheel drive. The AWD feature comes as an option in the GMC Safari, largely due to the fact that it lowers the fuel economy of the van.

The model witnessed another noticeable change in 1989 when it received a new dash. The extended body option and the hydroboost braking system debuted the same year. Another feature, the Dutch doors, came three years later in 1992. This feature includes two half-barn doors at the bottom and a flip-up window at the top.

In 1995, the GMC Safari received a significant facelift, which includes an extended nose that resembles full-size vans. The short length body stopped in 1995, and GMC redesigned the dash and added a passenger airbag a year later. This marks the last significant change in the GMC Safari, which continued its run until 2005.

Select a GMC Safari Year

2005 GMC Safari


The GMC Safari is a three-door passenger van produced from 1985 to 2005.

2004 GMC Safari


The 2004 GMC Safari gives a unique take on the same old minivan.

2003 GMC Safari


The 2003 GMC Safari is a minivan that’s been around since 1985–the stone age for contemporary vehicles.

2002 GMC Safari


The 2002 GMC Safari proves adept at trailer towing and heavy hauling because of its construction and rear-drive layout.

2001 GMC Safari


The 2001 GMC Safari comes with two body styles and six sub models that have 4.

2000 GMC Safari


Like its twin the Chevrolet Astro, the 2000 GMC Safari is available in three-door cargo or four-door family versions.

1999 GMC Safari


The 1999 GMC Safari is a rear and all-wheel drive, midsize van manufactured by General Motors.

1998 GMC Safari


The 1998 GMC Safari is a minivan that offers more than family hauling and cargo space.

1997 GMC Safari


The 1997 GMC Safari is a slight oddity in the minivan market.

1996 GMC Safari


The 1996 GMC Safari is a rear-drive midsize van manufactured by General Motors.

1995 GMC Safari


The 1995 GMC Safari shows a slight oddity in the minivan market.