What's New for 2007
For the 2007 Chevrolet Uplander, Chevy has discontinued the all-wheel-drive model and dropped the base 3.5-liter V6. Now, all Uplanders are front-wheel drive and powered by the healthy 3.9-liter V6. The 3.9 is now E85-compatible, meaning it can run on straight gasoline or a fuel blend of 85-percent ethanol. The only other change this year is that the stability control system has been made standard for almost all trim levels.
A few years ago, in an effort to lift sales and obliterate the "soccer mom" image its minivans had, General Motors gave its revamped people movers SUV-like styling cues and new names. The Chevrolet version traded in its "Venture" moniker for the more rugged-sounding "Uplander." With a more pronounced front end and a slightly taller stance, the Uplander was (and is) supposed to be a "crossover sport van," something more hip than the average minivan. We're not sold on the whole "SUV/van" concept, however. To our eyes, the Uplander looks more like a minivan with a really big and flat front end.
As far as its real mission, the 2007 Chevrolet Uplander succeeds on most counts. It offers many of the features minivan consumers are looking for, such as a 50/50-split third-row seat that folds flat, folding trays between the front seats, plenty of storage compartments and available rear park assist, DVD entertainment and navigation systems. A unique option is the PhatNoise 40-gig digital media system that can store thousands of songs and dozens of movies, doing away with the need to clutter the cabin with the family's favorite CDs and DVDs. This year the base 3.5-liter V6 is dropped and the stronger, 3.9-liter V6 becomes standard on all Uplanders -- a wise move, considering the 4500-pound weight of the extended-wheelbase version.
Although the 2007 Chevrolet Uplander has most of the bases covered, it still falls short of the class leaders -- the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna -- in a few key areas. Its driving dynamics are not as polished, its crash test scores aren't as high and a couple of features, such as a rear backup camera and three-row side curtain airbags, are not available. Certainly, the Chevy Uplander is a decent choice for family transportation, and if price is an issue (as it typically is) one could probably get an Uplander for at least a few thousand dollars less than the comparably equipped class leaders. More demanding buyers who don't mind spending the extra bucks, however, will be happier with the aforementioned rivals.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Chevrolet Uplander minivan comes in regular and long-wheelbase sizes. Regular-wheelbase models come in LS trim only, while the extended versions are available in LS or upscale LT trim. The LS offers 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 player and the OnStar communications system. The LT trim actually consists of three subsets: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. The 1LT adds a passenger-side power-sliding door, rear-seat DVD entertainment system with infrared headphones, alloy wheels and a power driver seat. Moving up to the 2LT adds dual-zone climate control, an overhead console, a trip computer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The full-lux 3LT offers standard leather seating, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, XM satellite radio, the PhatNoise digital media system (which allows owners to store hundreds of hours of music files and/or movies), a 115-volt power outlet and a Homelink transmitter. Noteworthy options include dual power-sliding side doors, rear parking assist and a remote vehicle starting system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering all Chevy Uplanders is a 3.9-liter ("3900") V6 with 240 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque that sends power to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is a flexible-fuel engine, meaning it can run on E85 (a blend of 85-percent ethanol) as well as regular unleaded fuel.
Safety features are somewhat hodgepodge on the Uplander. All models come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Stability control is also standard on all Uplanders except the regular-wheelbase LS. For side-impact protection, the minivan features front seat-mounted side-impact airbags that are optional on the Uplander LS and standard on the LT; these airbags provide both head and torso protection. For the 2LT and 3LT packages, Chevy also includes side airbags for the second row, and just as in the front, these bags protect both the heads and torsos of outboard passengers. Although these modified side airbags do much the same job as the side curtain airbags offered on all other minivans, the Uplander doesn't provide any airbag coverage for passengers seated in the third row.
In NHTSA crash tests, the Chevy Uplander received a five-star rating (out of a possible five) for protection of front occupants in frontal crashes. For side-impact crashes, the Uplander earned four stars for protection of front occupants and five stars for the rear occupants. During IIHS crash testing, the Uplander scored a rating of "Good" (the highest of four) in frontal offset testing. In that agency's side-impact test, however, the Uplander received a "Marginal" (the second lowest of four) rating even with the side airbag option and a "Poor" (the lowest) when tested without them. (Most of the newer minivans on the market are rated "Good" in the IIHS side-impact test.)
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2007 Chevrolet Uplander seats seven and its fold-flat third-row seat offers a 50/50 split. Lower-line Uplanders have removable modular seats in the second row, while the 2LT and 3LT have fixed captain's chairs. The main advantage to the extended-wheelbase model is its additional legroom for second- and third-row passengers and larger cargo area. All Uplanders have a two-tone color scheme with faux metal accents that dramatically brightens the cabin's atmosphere. Folding center trays (with cupholders) between the first- and second-row seats are available. An overhead rail system on LT versions provides easy rear-seat access to climate and entertainment functions, and it can be upgraded with various storage containers. Springing for the PhatNoise digital media system saves you the hassle of juggling CDs and DVDs on road trips, while an optional remote vehicle start system makes it easy to warm up the Uplander on cold mornings.
Chevrolet has tuned the Uplander's suspension to provide a smooth ride and a moderate level of dynamic handling ability. Upgrading to the optional load-leveling suspension (it's part of the Safe and Secure Package) does provide more responsive handling, though maneuverability in tight spaces is still compromised by the van's large 41-foot turning radius. Braking capability is average.