Like other General Motors vans that are debuting in the 2005 model year, Chevrolet bills the Uplander as a “crossover sport van.” Though it has sport utility vehicle styling cues, with seven-passenger seating capacity, a low step-in height and sliding side doors, the Uplander isn’t far removed from the minivans that GM has offered in the past. But the company hopes to steer clear of the minivan’s tame image at this point.
Introduced at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show, the Uplander is related to the new Buick Terraza, Pontiac Montana SV6 and Saturn Relay. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the Uplander can be fitted with all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V-6 engine mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The Uplander comes in base, LS and LT trim levels. A cargo van is also offered.
Chevrolet will introduce a new optional backseat entertainment system on the Uplander. Known as Mobile Digital Media Powered by PhatNoise, the system can store hours of media like music or movies on a wallet-size 40-gigabyte hard-drive cartridge. The hard drive removes easily for connection to a home computer.
The Uplander’s squared-off front fascia features a large grille with a horizontal band. Chrome accents are used on the grille. Special exterior molding is used to enhance the Uplander’s “SUV-like character,” according to Chevrolet press material. The LT gets body-colored door and liftgate handles, while the ones on the base and LS models are black.
Wide, prominent C-pillars are exposed, which is considered another SUV styling cue. The wheels measure 17 inches in diameter, and the optional roof rack has satin-finished side rails. Three optional suspension packages are available: FE3 Sport; FE4 Ride and Handling; and FE5 Ride, Handling and Performance. Automatic level control is an option.
Riding a 121.1-inch wheelbase, the Uplander is 204.7 inches long overall and 69.4 inches tall.
Seven occupants fit inside the Uplander, which features three rows of seats. The second- and third-row seats can be folded and removed. Bucket seats are standard in the second row, while captain’s chairs with armrests are optional. Uplevel models feature leather seats in the first row, and heated cushions are optional.
The Uplander also features a flexible rear cargo system that has three dividers. When the third-row bench seat is folded, the storage system and seat line up to create a level load floor. Total cargo volume is 136.5 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded and 26.9 cubic feet with all the seats up. The rear bench is split 50/50 and covered in a soft vinyl.
Foldable convenience trays sit between the first- and second-row seats. An overhead rail system contains integrated audio and climate controls, lighting and the backseat entertainment system. Entertainment options include a DVD system and XM Satellite Radio. The PhatNoise system also fits into the overhead rail system.
Under the Hood
GM’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine generates an estimated 200 horsepower and 220 pounds-feet of torque and connects to a four-speed-automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the Uplander can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Versatrak all-wheel drive is optional, and it can split torque between the left and right wheels as well as between the front and rear ones. Traction control is optional.
All-disc antilock brakes and daytime running lamps are standard. GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability system and an integrated child-safety seat are optional. Optional seat-mounted side-impact airbags provide head and thorax protection for front occupants.