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A vast improvement over the previous version, with a great inline six engine, but it still doesn't measure up to its competitors.
Sharp exterior styling, strong six-cylinder power, attractive interior design.
Numb steering, plasticky interior pieces, feels tippy in the twisties.
Available Envoy SUV Models
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Long overdue for a redesign, GMC's all-new Envoy finally gets the goods to compete in the highly competitive midsize SUV segment. An all-aluminum inline six-cylinder engine replaces the aging 4.3-liter V6, and a revised suspension dramatically improves the ride. Unlike the 2000 Envoy that was virtually indistinguishable from its Chevrolet and Oldsmobile siblings, the 2002 model now sports a new look that is unique to the GMC brand.
GMC's previous Envoy was merely a gussied-up version of the standard Jimmy. Even with its strong V6 and options aplenty, it was totally outclassed by its competition.
For 2002, the Jimmy name gets dropped, and the Envoy becomes GMC's only midsize sport-ute. Unlike its predecessor, it comes to the table with a more complete package that will allow it to compete more favorably against its archrival, the Ford Explorer (also fully redesigned for 2002).
A longer and wider body gives the Envoy a much more substantial look in addition to providing considerably more room inside. A new frame structure that utilizes advanced hydroforming technology achieves stiffness levels typically associated only with high-end sedans. Along with a revised suspension that uses dual A-arms and coilover shocks up front and a five-link coil spring system in the rear, the Envoy's ride quality has been substantially improved. An electronically controlled air spring suspension is optional in the rear, providing load-leveling capabilities and a more isolated ride.
Under the hood, Envoy uses GM's new all-aluminum 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine. Rated at 270 horsepower and 275 foot-pounds of torque, this new engine out-powers most of its competitors' V8s, let alone their V6 offerings. Achieving its peak torque output at a low 1,600 rpm gives the straight six a noticeably flat powerband that delivers plenty of passing and merging power at just about any speed.
Inside, the Envoy's enlarged cabin is a huge improvement over the cramped quarters in the old version, with plenty of room for five adult passengers. GM plans on releasing an extended-length version within the next two years that will incorporate third-row seating, but until then, the Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango have them beat.
The Envoy comes in two well-appointed trim levels, SLE and SLT. Base SLE versions come with a deluxe cloth interior, dual-zone climate control, the OnStar communications system, dual front and side airbags and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo. SLT models are loaded with just about every feature available including a driver information center, automatic climate control, leather seating and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with satellite radio and climate controls, just to name a few.
There's no doubt that the new Envoy has all the makings of a solid midsize SUV. The powerful new engine is one of GM's most technologically advanced ever, and the reworked suspension does an admirable job of keeping the enlarged sport-ute comfortably under control. The new look is also unique to GMC, a good thing, considering the somewhat bland exterior of the Olds and the roughrider look of the Chevy Trailblazer. If the new Envoy can demonstrate build quality on par with its competitors, it should have no trouble competing in this hotly contested market.
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