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Despite the high level of feature content, the Envoy still suffers from an aging design, sloppy handling and hit-and-miss build quality.
Loads of standard features, GM's OnStar system is optional.
No V8 available, add-ons can contribute to squeaks and rattles.
Upgraded seats and V6 engine improvements headline changes to GM's high-end compact SUV. There's also a new metallic paint color, and a heavy-duty battery is now standard.
GMC jumped on the luxury compact SUV bandwagon in 1998, dolling up a four-door, four-wheel-drive Jimmy, packing it full of fancy touches and calling it the Envoy. For the past two years, Envoy has received minor feature enhancements to its staggering list of standard equipment.
Motivated by the same 190-horse, Vortec 4.3-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission that's found in the Jimmy, the Envoy disguises its rugged underpinnings with full-wrap body cladding, molded wheel flares and a monochrome paint scheme. Envoy also has a unique body-colored front bumper/fascia with upper and lower grilles, chrome accents, round foglamps and integrated tow hooks. Out back there's a step bumper with integrated trailer hitch, as well as a rear spoiler whose rearward edge incorporates a neon Center High Mounted Stop Lamp (CHMSL), though rear styling is hardly distinctive enough to tell it apart from GM stablemates.
Envoy features high-intensity discharge headlamps. These lamps offer more than two-and-a-half times the light emitted by halogen bulbs and provide a longer, wider beam. Other standard equipment on the Envoy includes depowered airbags, the PassLock theft-deterrent system, remote entry, electronic climate control, retained accessory power, self-dimming outside heated mirrors and tinted glass behind the B-pillars. There's even a built-in air compressor as part of the standard Premium Luxury Ride suspension that includes an automatic load-leveling system.
Inside you'll find a variety of luxury touches, including Zebrano wood trim and heated Nuance leather power seating with the ''Envoy'' badge stitched into the headrests. Designers sought a cockpit theme by putting the gauges on a semicircular cluster and angling the instrument panel 15 degrees toward the driver. The center console can hold a cell phone, while the overhead unit includes a three-button HomeLink transmitter. The standard sound system is none other than GM's Premium Bose unit, with CD player and high-tech Bose Nd speakers for deep bass tones.
Envoy's four-wheel-drive system employs GM's AutoTrac two-speed active transfer case, which allows for automatic shifting from all-wheel drive to four-wheel drive when road conditions warrant. Plus, there's a "tow/haul" button on the transmission shift lever that adjusts the shift points in the electronically controlled automatic when the vehicle is heavily loaded or towing a trailer. GMC packs tons of standard equipment on this sport-ute (among the rare options are a power sunroof and GM's dealer-installed OnStar mobile communications system) and wraps it with a cleanly upscale look. Priced competitively in this segment, the Envoy is one to look at if you are thinking along the lines of a Ford Explorer Limited, or perhaps the Infiniti QX4.
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