The GMC Envoy was launched for 2002 as an upscale, "professional grade" iteration of the prolific General Motors GMT-360 midsize SUV platform that has spawned the Buick Rainier, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Oldsmobile Bravada, and most recently, the Saab 9-7x. The Envoy's high feature content, strong powertrains, impressive on- and off-road ability, and varied work talents earned it praise and distinction. For 2005, the Envoy range is expanded with new Envoy Denali and Denali XL models. As with other GMC truck lines, Denali models tout upgraded interior trim and bigger standard engines. Most noteworthy of the Denali add-ons is the 5.3-liter/300-horse V-8. When it comes to fuel efficiency, Displacement on Demand, which deactivates certain cylinders while cruising, compensates for the V-8 XL's weight penalty. Other trim levels are equipped standard with a 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine making 275 horsepower. Both powerplants can drive the rear wheels, with part-time four-wheel-drive a desirable upgrade. Unfortunately, 2005 will be the last model year for the transformable Envoy XUV. The idea of an SUV that could turn into a pickup sounded brilliant in theory, but the miniscule bed opening left auto shoppers wondering how many giraffes they would possibly need to haul, and slow sales of this pricey variant have prompted GMC to cancel production.
All Envoys feature dual-stage front driver and passenger airbags. To lessen the possibility of injury caused by deployment, the airbags fire at a reduced rate for modest impacts and more quickly for severe crashes. Side curtain airbags, which protect passengers' heads in a collision or rollover, are optional. Stopping the 4,800-pound SUV are four-wheel disc brakes with dual-piston calipers and ABS. An OnStar system with recently improved voice recognition software comes standard on all models. Conspicuously absent from the options list are stability and traction control. GM remains one of the few manufacturers that don't offer stability control on their midsize SUVs--both Toyota and Ford include it as standard. Thankfully, this feature will be standard equipment on 2006 Envoys.
The GMC Envoy appeals the domestic-vehicle loyalist looking for a right-sized sport/ute with a classy, masculine flavor. Numerous variations allow shoppers to find the right bodystyle and powertrain combination for their needs and budget. The supersized XL bridges the mid- and full-size segments for shoppers who need a third row of seats, but who don't relish the parking and fuel-filling challenges of a true larger-scale vehicle. The Envoy makes easy work of hauling a trailer, with either powertrain. For those with limited towing demands, the six-cylinder provides a good compromise between performance and economy. There are a numerous comfort features to go along with the utility, and the upmarket Denali trim provides an even better dressed interior and abundant convenience gadgets. As the years have passed, the Envoy concedes refinement leadership--especially in its interior--to newer competitors. The Envoy is further hindered by an IntelliChoice Ownership Cost Value Rating that sees most iterations fall between Average and Worse than Average.