GMC revived the Envoy name for 2002 on a brand-new midsize model related to the Chevrolet TrailBlazer. The five-passenger Envoy arrived first, and GMC soon added the extended-length seven-passenger Envoy XL that featured three rows of seats.
All 2006 models come standard with General Motors’ StabiliTrak electronic stability system. The regular Envoy’s 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder engine has slightly more power for 2006, and a 5.3-liter V-8 is still offered for Denali models.
For 2006, V-8-equipped Envoys gain Displacement on Demand technology to improve fuel economy. The system was previously optional.
Upscale Denali editions of the Envoy and Envoy XL feature aluminum wheels, honeycomb grilles and an integrated air dam to channel air to the engine. Interior appointments include Nuance leather seats with French seam stitching, and the front seats are heated.
The Envoy XUV, which debuted in 2004 and featured a power-sliding rear roof, has been discontinued.
A shield-shaped grille helps give the four-door Envoy a distinct identity. For 2006, non-Denali editions get slight exterior updates and standard cast-aluminum wheels that hold 17-inch tires; Denali versions feature 18-inch tires. A rear load-leveling suspension is available. 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, stretches to 207.6 inches long overall and is 3.6 inches taller.
As many as five occupants can fit inside the Envoy, which contains reclining front bucket seats and a split, folding rear seat. The Envoy XL seats up to seven with its additional folding two-place third-row seat. The Envoy XL’s maximum cargo volume is 107.4 cubic feet, versus 80.1 cubic feet in the shorter Envoy. XM Satellite Radio, an MP3-capable CD player and a DVD-based entertainment system are optional. Power-adjustable pedals are available.
Envoy and Envoy XL models are equipped with a 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder. It’s been upgraded for 2006 and now boasts 291 horsepower, up from 275 hp in previous years. Envoy Denalis feature a 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 that uses Displacement on Demand technology. All models use a four-speed-automatic transmission. Envoys have either rear-wheel drive or Autotrac four-wheel drive, which incorporates a two-speed transfer case.
All-disc antilock brakes and StabiliTrak are standard. Side curtain-type airbags are optional.
GMC’s Envoy rivals the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer in passing power, ride comfort and handling prowess. While tromping on the gas to pass, the inline-six exudes confidence. Not only is engine sound barely noticeable, but road noise is also virtually absent.
The regular-suspension Envoy rides similar to a car on smooth surfaces. The ride softens, but not dramatically, with the available load-leveling suspension. Handling is on the slow side, but the SUV has a satisfying steering feel. An extra-smooth ride is part of the Envoy XL’s attraction, but quite a bit of body roll is evident.