GMC's Envoy XUV sport utility vehicle illustrates the maxim that many new ideas can be traced back to the past. The Envoy XUV's most compelling feature is a retractable rear roof � a convenience that was available in the early 1960s on the Studebaker Wagonaire station wagon.
Touching a button converts the XUV's cargo area from fully enclosed to an open-air space. When the rear roof is fully retracted, a 32-by-32-inch opening allows tall objects to be carried upright.
Inside, the midgate features a powered glass panel that raises or lowers via a push-button. When the glass is raised, the passenger compartment is separated from the cargo section. When the glass is lowered, the rear seats can tumble down and the midgate can flip down, which provides an extended cargo bed.
A QuickDrain system in the cargo area can channel out as much as 30 gallons of water per minute. Wet or dirty messes can simply be hosed away.
For 2005, a Generation IV version of the available 5.3-liter V-8 operates with Displacement on Demand technology to improve fuel economy. A passenger-sensing system goes into the right front seat, and General Motors' OnStar communication system gains upgraded hands-free capability. The XUV comes in SLE and SLT trim levels.
Built with body-on-frame construction, the Envoy XUV looks similar to the Envoy XL; however, the XUV has this unique power-sliding rear roof. An electronically controlled rear load-leveling suspension is optional. Mounted on a 129-inch wheelbase, the XUV measures 208.4 inches long overall. Cast-aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. A dual-function tailgate that drops down or swings open is installed, and the cargo area can hold 4-by-8-foot plywood sheets with the tailgate down.
As many as five occupants can fit inside the Envoy XUV. According to GMC, the seats and midgate can be reconfigured in seconds without tools. Four tie-down rings can be moved to any of 12 locations in the cargo area.
Under the Hood
The Envoy XUV's standard 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder produces 275 horsepower. The optional 5.3-liter V-8 has Displacement on Demand technology and makes 300 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque. A four-speed-automatic transmission serves both engines, which run on regular-grade gasoline. Rear- and four-wheel-drive models are available.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side curtain-type airbags are optional.
The Envoy XUV is enjoyable to drive and steers with a light touch. You feel all the rough spots on bumpy pavement, but few are bothersome. The Envoy XUV also handles nicely for a truck � and it seems more carlike than some SUVs.
Acceleration with the six-cylinder engine will be eager enough for most drivers. The six-cylinder responds fairly quickly at higher speeds, if less so at lower velocities. Hard downshifts at lower speeds can produce engine blare.
Comfortable seats offer adequate support but not much side bolstering. Except for limited knee space in the second row, the XUV has a roomy interior. It's the retracting rear roof that makes this vehicle special.