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GMI Reviews: 1997 GMC Safari
An Oldie, but a Goodie!
By: TaHoE

My family purchased our GMC Safari in 1999 used, since the '99 model wasn't much different from the 1997 model. We needed towing and the space, but something without the gas guzzling penalty of an SUV, so we needed a midvan, and viola here is the Safari.

The Safari is powered by GM's "Venerable" (A.K.A.: OLD, OUTDATED) 4.3L V6. In Safari Spec it produces 190HP with 250lb/ft of torque with MPG of 16 in the city and 20 in highway driving. Even though these numbers sound small and the van weighs a lot, It didn't feel like it was under any stress and the torque definitely helps. When it comes to efficiency the Safari really likes to suck up gas in stop and go situations, you might expect numbers of as low as 13mpg in true stop and go situations. However on the highway, the 4.3L along with GM's 4-Speed Automatic with Overdrive, can't be beat, with calculated numbers as high as 25MPG! I was truly surprised by these calculations and I think this really shows how great the 4.3 and the 4 speed work together.


Styling has improved greatly over the years, maybe because the Safari has only been through one TRUE update in it's life time (the 1995 model, with interior updates in 1996). But the conservative styling really helps it with its commercial yet stately appearance. One thing I would fix is the rear taillights. They are old and really boring but other than that, there is nothing I would really change, excellent job by GM.


The interior is a mixed bag, its functional but FAR FAR from luxurious. My model was an SLE version (Mid Pack in the GMC lineup). The Seats cloth material was pretty decent, and there is leather around the back of the seats for all three rows. On the back of the last two bench seats there is a course material, most likely to protect the seats any cargo when the seats are folded flat. The dashboard has an attractive organic design with curved lines and great instrumentation, while avoiding the '90's Taurus look. Materials on the dash and doors are not up to par with anything say from 1990 on. There are hard plastics, huge gaps (gaps which other drivers use to stick papers into), and materials on the door rip and fade easily. With some minor tweaking and upgraded materials the interior would be great (along with a much better stereo).

I must say, the Safari was a pleasure to drive (I would call it the BMW of Minivans [er sorry, the CTS of Minivans]). However it's one of the worst vehicles to drive in the snow or rain, so be careful. The Safari pleases with its huge cargo area, efficiency in highway driving and smooth acceleration, along with its stately design. However tradeoffs in interior materials, low MPG in the city and an outdated platform take a huge bite out of the Safari's enjoyment.

Main Competitors: Chevrolet Astro
(Other Competitors): Ford Windstar, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna

Pros: Fun to drive, great highway fuel economy, lots of interior space
Cons: Horrible interior materials, bad city fuel economy, outdated platform

Overall Rating: 6.0/10

56 Posts
:huh: I say yes it is. This Website seems to really attract fans of all ages and backgrounds. (From poll alot of younger enthusiasts also.) There may be several that would consider this a viable vehecle for young growing families. or even young starting business. The info of a long term driver/owner can prove interesting.
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