Introduced in 1985 as a truck-based minivan, the GMC Safari was quickly accepted by commercial entities as an alternative to full-sized cargo van. Its durable frame, 5,500-pound towing capacity rating and tall roof height made the Safari minivan a formidable work vehicle. Subtracting the second and third row seating, the GMC Safari Cargo Van rear space is unobstructed in holding 170.4 cubic feet of cargo. For the 1998 model year, the GMC Safari Cargo Van was propelled by a 4.3-liter Vortec V-6 engine producing 190 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque.
The powerplant is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The 1998 Safari Cargo Van was offered with both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Dual front airbags, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and vinyl seating are standard equipment on the GMC Safari Cargo Van. As a cargo van, buyers can opt to have the side window glass covered paneling to provide greater flexibility and security in the rear storage area. Dutch doors at the rear of the GMC Safari Cargo Van were also an option for the minivan providing more convenient loading and unloading.
In 2003, the GMC Safari Cargo Van received a mechanical upgrade that included four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system. 16-inch wheels were also made standard on the 2003 Safari Cargo Van. Power mirrors were also included on all models for 2003. The GMC Safari Cargo Van was offered until the 2005 when General Motors chose to discontinue the aging the minivan. Unlike Chevrolet, GMC had not received a replacement small cargo van product for their line-up following the Safari.