Packaging: Engineered In or Added On?
The first thing you notice about the Savana SLT is how understated the exterior comes across. No two-tone paint, hang-off running boards, or chrome bumpers, mirrors, and brightwork, as on Ford's Traveler. Instead, the color-keyed grille and bumpers, front-and-rear fascias, rocker moldings, mirrors and door handles are all set off nicely with halogen headlamps, integrated clear foglamps, and 15-in. brushed-

aluminum wheels. The look is, well, downright elegant, compared to the Ford's more traditional appearance.

But what really sets these vans apart are the interiors. Ford provides an upgrade over its top-line Chateau leather trim and, save for the addition of the Auto Vision entertainment system, it's pretty much standard factory fare. GM assigned the SLT's interior redesign to the Lear Corp., which worked with GM engineers to design, supply materials, and even install the complete interior from start to finish for a true custom look.

Both vans come with a full complement of features, including power locks and windows, cruise, leather-wrapped tilt wheel, keyless entry, front and rear air and climate controls, tinted glass, and the like. But the most stunning difference is in the placement of second-row seating, where GM decided to locate the middle-row chairs amidship, while Ford left the mounting positions directly behind the front-row buckets. The result is easier walk-in and walk-through for the GMC, with legroom that can only be described as astounding.

The other major difference is in the in-vehicle-entertainment systems. The Ford's unit is located in a second-row floor console, with twin 6.0-in. flip-down monitors placed in front of the second-row seats. The GMC touts two flip-down 6.8-in. color video monitors positioned in front of the second and third rows. A video-cassette player is installed into the center-stack console, which can be controlled by the driver, and the rear panel features a prewired video-game docking station for your favorite Nintendo 64 or Sony PlayStation games. While both vans offer a premium stereo system, the Savana's packs a 12-speaker Bose AM/FM stereo with CD and cassette players, wireless infrared headphones, and rear-seat audio controls. Our tester came with the optional ($295) six-disc in-dash CD changer. The entire system is fully integrated so that some can listen to music, others watch a movie, and still others play a video game all at the same time--the headphones deliver all the audio feeds separately.