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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
August 27, 2003
Vehicle Overview GMC revived the Envoy name for 2002 on a brand-new midsize model. Its part of a trio of General Motors midsize sport utility vehicles that includes the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and Oldsmobile Bravada. A five-passenger Envoy arrived first. In the spring of 2002, GMC added an extended-length seven-passenger Envoy XL that features three rows of seats.
Instead of a V-6 or V-8 engine, the Envoy and its cousins are powered by a 4.2-liter, all-aluminum, inline-six-cylinder that develops 275 horsepower. Motor Trend named the Envoy its 2002 Sport/Utility of the Year.
A new 5.3-liter V-8 became optional in the Envoy XL for 2003. Power-adjustable pedals are now available, and a last-door locking feature is standard. New audio systems are offered, XM Satellite Radio is available, and DVD movies can be played through the vehicles sound system. An Envoy XUV that is equipped with a power-sliding rear roof will also debut for 2004.
The four-door Envoy comes in SLE and SLT trim levels. A trapezoidal bodyside shape and a shield-shaped grille help give the Envoy a distinct identity. All three GM models share roofs, tailgates and front doors, but most other body components are unique.
Cast-aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Rear coil springs are standard, and an air suspension is optional. The five-passenger Envoy rides on a 113-inch wheelbase, measures 191.6 inches long overall and stands 71.9 inches tall. The extended-wheelbase Envoy XL rides a 129-inch wheelbase and stretches to 207.6 inches; the extended-length model is also 3.6 inches taller.
Five people fit inside the standard Envoy, which is equipped with reclining front bucket seats and a split, folding rear seat that holds three occupants. The Envoy XL seats seven with an additional two-place fold-down rear seat. The XLs maximum cargo volume is 107.4 cubic feet, vs. 80.1 cubic feet in the shorter Envoy. The SLT edition adds leather upholstery, GMs OnStar communication system, and a memory feature for the drivers seat and mirrors.
Under the Hood
A 275-hp, 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder engine teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Envoy XLs equipped with the optional 290-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 can tow as much as 7,100 pounds. The Envoy may be equipped with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, which incorporates a two-speed transfer case.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are optional.
GMCs Envoy seems eager to compete against the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer in passing power, ride comfort and handling prowess. While tromping on the gas to pass or merge, few drivers are likely to realize that the Envoys source of power is an inline-six, which exudes confidence. Not only is engine sound barely discernible, but road noise is also virtually absent. Acceleration is stronger but not overpowering with the V-8 in the Envoy XL.
The regular-suspension Envoy rides similar to a car on smooth surfaces. The ride softens, but not dramatically, with the optional air suspension. Handling is on the slow side, but with a satisfying steering feel. An extra-smooth ride is part of the Envoy XLs attraction, but quite a bit of body roll is evident.