1997 GMC Safari Reviews

1997 GMC Safari from North America

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission Automatic
Distance when acquired45000 kilometres
Most recent distance210000 kilometres
Previous carFord Crown Victoria


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Windshield wiper control card (warranty).

Fuel pump at 60,000 Km.

Drive shaft U-joint at 60,000 Km.

Rear window strut.

Air conditioner seized.

Driver window motor (twice).

Passenger window motor.

Trans sometimes bangs into second.

Distributor caps now will not last one year. Dies without warning. Will not restart. Has been towed to 2 garages for this.

Steering idler arms 200,000 Km (acceptable).

General Comments:

Engine is still peppy, smooth, quiet and doesn't use oil. I've kept up with fluid changes.

I guess I've been lucky compared to some of the horror stories I've read.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th November, 2009

18th Aug 2010, 17:44

Just bought my second used Safari after searching for a replacement for our 1996.

That van has been donated to teen challenge farms after 5 years, because I do not want to pay to have the power steering pump replaced. Turns out that the fan shroud, pulley etc has to be removed to get to the pump and cost to replace is $500. The A/C has stopped working as well on the 96 and the brakes are due (300,000K).

I have looked at trucks, SUVs, jeeps and cars and found the perfect vehicle, a 97 Safari in great shape with 230,000K. I cannot find a better vehicle for versatility and rugged performance. I feel safe with my teenagers driving because it is a rugged and roomy performer with great visibility. It will carry 7 people (we have 4 teenagers and a dog), sheets of plywood and tow my boat. My son is 6'4" and has size 15 feet. The Toyo 4runner we looked at did not have room for him behind the wheel and was manual transmission. His feet could not operate only 1 pedal at a time.

It's a shame they stopped making these vans in 04. Of course, it is also a shame that the engineers at GM couldn't make a van/truck that wasn't notorious for failing electrical motors in the windows and locks, terrible ignition problems with coils and wires. Conceptually incredibly versatile while electrically pathetic.

My reassurance lies in my history in having done it all before. My devotion is to the versatility of having a minivan on a truck frame. If older Toyota Land Cruisers were more affordable and available I may have gone there, but I don't think they would have handled the plywood.

Don't buy one if you don't own a toolbox, but a great 'do it all' design.

1997 GMC Safari SLT 4.3 gas from North America

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission 4.3 gas Automatic
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Dealer Service marks 0 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.4 / 10
Distance when acquired2 miles
Most recent distance172833 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Jetta


It has worn better than its trouble beginnings foretold. I have come to admire these vans


Air conditioning seems to be a weak point on our Safari, it has gone out several times. After the multiple trips to the dealer early in its life, it was fine for several years. It recently broke from a faulty shrader valve, which leaked the refrigerant out.

Transmission was always a trouble spot with this Safari until it was rebuilt at 150,000. It use to shift so hard between 1st and 2nd that it would chirp the tires.

Many odd early on problems early on, wipers, power windows, sticking accelerator pedal that almost put me into the back of a stopped vehicle.

The dealer service was very bad, always claimed they could not duplicate problematic conditions, but as soon as we picked it up, it still had the same problems it was brought in for.

General Comments:

After my scathing review of this vehicle 5 or 6 years ago which has spawned many comments of frustration and hatred toward the Safari, my outlook on the vehicle has changed.

The Safari's performance and longevity has come to surprise me. It has recently surpassed 172,000 miles, the most of any car we have owned. It still holds perfect oil pressure and the engine has never been apart.

The transmission problems have been cured so far after an independent shop rebuilt the transmission at 150,000 miles.

It has hauled car engines, machinery, 1500 lbs of dirt, my small motorcycle, as well as provided an excellent tent on camping trips. Yeah, it's no speed demon, but I have become accustomed to its pokiness. It's big and somewhat clumsy, but its virtues now outweigh its drawbacks.

Yes it has many rattles and a lot of the cheap interior trim is looking pretty cruddy, but I have come to admire the tough Safari, and oddly enough found myself a little upset when I learned that the Astro/Safari vans have been discontinued. We are looking for a new vehicle soon, and I am planning on removing the interior of the old Safari and using it as a work van/parts hauler for my classic automobile restoration job.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th June, 2006

Average review marks: 5.8 / 10, based on 6 reviews