Review: 2006 Chevrolet Uplander

With an outmoded powertrain and hard-pressed chassis, the Uplander emphasizes convenience, offering enticing features such as an available remote starter, PhatNoise infotainment system, OnStar hands-free calling, and Sit-N-Lift seat. In addition to these unusual attractions, the Uplander possesses all the core minivan features needed to shuttle kids to school and take long-distance trips, but it just doesn't match the power, refinement, and road manners of the segment leaders. Its appeal would be greatest to brand-loyal Chevrolet customers and those able to secure a great, incentive-fueled deal. Even the warranty protection is ordinary, at three-years/36,000 miles. The standout configuration is the AWD variant, though historically such trims do not hold their value as well. Be sure to check the latest IntelliChoice Cost of Ownership research before finalizing an Uplander purchase.

Although a good minivan, the Uplander doesn't measure up against segment leaders--unless features like Sit-N-Lift, AWD, or the digital entertainment center are a must.

What's Hot

  • Sit-N-Lift mobility
  • OnStar voice-activated phone
  • PhatNoise programmable infotainment system

    What's Not

  • High load floor
  • Dowdy 3.5L powertrain
  • No power-operated tailgate

    For 2006, the new additions are limited to second-row side airbags, the 3.9L V-6, and two new exterior colors.

    A boon for mobility, the Sit-N-Lift seat mounts to original right-side, second-row attachments. It operates by a hand-held remote-control device, rotating and extending outward and providing transfer from a standing position or a wheelchair. Introduced in 2005, PhatNoise brings portable infotainment programmability to the minivan. This 40-gigabyte hard-drive cartridge installs in the overhead rail system. It stores and plays back up to 10,000 songs or 40 movies--or combines them in lesser numbers. Video games and audio books are other possibilities.

    Controls on the steering-wheel spokes let the driver interact with the voice-browsing interface. Rear passengers can tap PhatNoise for their own programming. It's even possible to port digital pictures through the cartridge and display them on the flip-down rear screen. Then, arriving at home, you can remove the cartridge and completely reprogram it for the next trip to Grandma's house.

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