2003 GMC Envoy Review

Pros & Cons

  • Plenty of cool options, strong six-cylinder power, attractive interior design.
  • Numb steering, plasticky interior pieces, feels tippy in the twisties.
List Price Estimate
$1,469 - $2,757

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A solid effort from GMC. Still falls short of best midsize SUVs, though.

Vehicle overview

Introduction: GMC's previous-generation 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.

The Jimmy name was dropped in 2002, and the Envoy became GMC's only midsize sport-ute. That year also saw the Envoy receiving an extensive redesign. It now comes to the table with specifications and features that allow it to compete more favorably against its archrival, the Ford Explorer (also fully redesigned in 2002).

A longer and wider body gives the Envoy a substantial look, in addition to providing considerably more room inside. Its frame structure utilizes advanced hydroforming technology that achieves stiffness levels typically associated only with high-end sedans.

The 2003 Envoy represents a vast improvement over the previous-generation model, but ultimately, it doesn't measure up to competitors such as the Nissan Pathfinder or the Ford Explorer. While its handsome exterior and roomy interior may attract consumers, GM needs to come up with a better compromise between cushy ride quality and confident handling; specifically, it should lose some of the former to gain some of the latter. The midsize SUV class is populated with highly talented vehicles; unfortunately, the Envoy has yet to prove that it's got what it takes to overtake the segment leaders. The Envoy's questionable handling characteristics, unascertained reliability and low frontal-offset crash test scores prevent us from recommending this truck.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: The Envoy comes in two trim levels: SLE and SLT. Base SLE versions come with a cloth interior; power locks, windows and mirrors; the OnStar communications system; keyless entry; 17-inch wheels; and a power driver seat. 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. The Envoy also offers a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, an air suspension, upgraded audio systems and heated front seats as options. Powertrains and Performance: Under the hood, the 2003 Envoy gets a 4.2-liter 24-valve dual-overhead-cam inline six-cylinder engine. Rated at 275 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, this new engine out-powers most of its competitors' V8s, let alone their V6 offerings. It's connected to a well-behaved four-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel- or four-wheel-drive models are available. Properly equipped, the Envoy can tow 6,400 pounds.

Safety: The Envoy features dual-stage front airbags and front side airbags as standard equipment. ABS, along with four-wheel disc brakes, are also standard. Three-point seatbelts are at all five seating locations. The Envoy has fared well in the NHTSA side-impact crash tests, scoring five stars (the best possible) for both front and rear passengers. Frontal-impact NHTSA scores have yet to be issued, though the IIHS rated the vehicle "marginal" in frontal offset crashes. The Envoy achieved three out of a possible five stars in tests done to ascertain rollover resistance, a score that is similar to other vehicles' in this class.

Interior Design and Special Features: Inside, the Envoy's enlarged cabin offers plenty of room for five adult passengers. Brushed nickel accents grace the console and instrument panel, and wood accents add a touch of class to the uplevel SLT trim. Material quality has been improved, but unfortunately, cheap plastic still dominates the dashboard and door panels. Split rear seats fold for cargo-loading flexibility; with the seat folded, the Envoy is capable of containing 80 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions: The suspension -- A-arms and coilover shocks up front and a five-link coil spring system in the rear -- gives the Envoy an amply cushioned ride, although we find it to be overly soft during cornering. An electronically controlled air spring suspension is optional in the rear, providing load-leveling capabilities. Offroad, the Envoy should be able to tackle the typical obstacles one encounters while trying to access trailheads and campsites. The most enjoyable aspect of the Envoy is its brawny inline six. Belching 275 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, it makes for easy passing and acceleration.

2003 Highlights

For 2003, Envoy buyers are able to order certain options individually, rather than as part of an equipment package, adding potential savings and increased flexibility. The sport-ute's already powerful Vortec 4.2-liter inline six also gets a slight bump in horsepower, up from 270 to 275, and Envoys now boast a new four-position headlamp switch that permits drivers to turn off the vehicle's daytime running lamps and automatic headlamps when necessary. Additionally, the Envoy gets a larger fuel tank that holds 22 gallons. Previously standard side airbags are now optional, while autodimming side mirrors and the rear seat overhead compartment have been deleted.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 GMC Envoy.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Electronic Nightmare
Terry Jackson,09/07/2009
The vehicle has been one electrical problem after another. I have had two starter ignition switches replaced, the starter, two batteries, the ACcontrol panel driverside thermostat is bad. There's aclicking sound under the dashboard (have yet to troubleshoot that as well as a clicking sound on the right aft side of the truck when I turn the defrost on. This is the worst vehicle I have ever own and I swear I will never buy GMC again. The interior is cheaply put together rattles far too much and the interior lighting is poor lit.
I love the Envoy so much I bought anothe
Cynthia Lampkin,05/17/2010
I owned a white 2003 GMC Envoy and that vehicle was the best suv around. Not only was my vehicle stylish it was very safe. I totaled my 2003Envoy and even thou I hit a concret wall that ruck was so safe that I walked away with jhust bruises. The a-frame was bent but the glass didn't break and because that Truck was so well made it held me in my seat and I didn't get tossed around nor did my truch flip over. I really loved those contour seats and the size, performance made me go out and buy a 2004 GMC Envoy same color. I shopped around for other SUV's but nothing compared to my Envoy. I really enjoy this truck and will purchase another GMC vehicle. I can not say enough about my Envoy's
2003 Envoy review
At the end of the warranty, I had the car checked and all was fine. I was told nothing to worry about. 6,000 miles later and after the warranty expired, that same dealer provided me with an estimate of almost $2,000 to repair an oil seal, the links, brakes, etc. The SUV runs well, is a smooth running vehicle, but does not seem to be that reliable. Most of my mileage is highway between Canada and Florida, so we do not travel on rough roads that could affect this vehicle. Except for some trim problems at the beginning, a seat module control that had to be replaced (Cost of this module was (900$, but covered under warranty, and an oil leak, I have had no other problems with this vehicle.
New owner, impressed so far!
We picked up our used 2003 Envoy a few weeks ago. It is the seven passenger model with 4x4 and every option imaginable. Everything works on the truck as it should. I read this vehicle is known for electrical problems but we have not experienced any. Previous owner took good care of it, as we plan to. Tried out the 4x4 the other night in the snow, and it was sure footed and felt safe on the road. Very pleased so far. Looking forward to towing our little trailer this summer for camping fun!

Features & Specs

13 city / 19 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
275 hp @ 6000 rpm
14 city / 20 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
275 hp @ 6000 rpm
13 city / 19 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
275 hp @ 6000 rpm
14 city / 20 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
275 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2003 GMC Envoy features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2003 GMC Envoy

Used 2003 GMC Envoy Overview

The Used 2003 GMC Envoy is offered in the following submodels: Envoy SUV. Available styles include SLE 4WD 4dr SUV (4.2L 6cyl 4A), SLE Rwd 4dr SUV (4.2L 6cyl 4A), SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.2L 6cyl 4A), and SLT Rwd 4dr SUV (4.2L 6cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 GMC Envoy?

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Which used 2003 GMC Envoys are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2003 GMC Envoy?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out GMC Envoy lease specials