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2005 GMC Envoy XUV truck reviews

Review by Dr. David A. Zatz

Review Notes: GMC Envoy XUV Straight-Six
Personality Heavy-duty, very flexible SUV
Quirks Somewhat bouncy suspension
Unusual features Midgate, convertible, washable cargo bay
Above Average for Price Utility
Needs Work In Suspension, transmission refinement
Notes Passed driveway test; written by David Zatz

The GMC Envoy XUV is a logical extension of the revolutionary Chevrolet Avalanche, with an easier to use midgate and a new twist to further the “SUV or pickup?” flexibility. Built on the same basic platform as the TrailBlazer, the Envoy has a pleasant, well-designed five-passenger interior and a cargo space that can be enclosed – or not, as you wish. It also incorporates a new, flexible tailgate which can open down or from the side – a welcome change.

The tailgate, though seemingly a minor feature, is one of those things you wrestle with frequently, so it’s good that GMC chose to take a fresh look at it. Depending on which handle you use, it will either come down in traditional pickup style – after you lower the glass, that is – or it will open to the side, with the glass still up. Picking up the handle starts an electrical process of lowering the window slightly to clear the weatherstripping, then unlocking the side latch. It opens out from the driver’s side, which is inconvenient if you’re parked at a curb (GM research said most people don’t park at curbs often), and doesn’t open all the way out from the side. It does, however, support 500 pounds if used in pickup style, making it fine for tailgate parties, particularly given the Envoy’s low (for a full size pickup) cargo height.

The Envoy’s main feature is its conversion, so let’s look at that first, and address the powertrain later. The main cab of the Envoy is separated from its cargo bay by a clear glass window which can be raised or lowered independently from an overhad control in the cab; the seats have the familiar flip and fold feature, and behind the seatbacks is a gate which, like the Avalanche’s midgate, can be folded out of the way, enabling the Envoy to have a long cargo bed when needed, and five seats at other times. Unlike the Avalanche, the Envoy’s window glass does not need to be removed; it simply slides into the midgate, making it much simpler to convert the truck.

Most of the time, though, most owners will probably use the cargo area’s conversion, rather than the SUV-to-pickup routine. This allows you to put bulky objects into the cargo bay – and, for that matter, to air it out or wash it out with a hose (at up to 30 gallons per minute!). GMC made the cargo bay so it can be exposed to the elements without affecting the cab – the bay-to-cab seals are apparently far better than they need to be – so you can use it for the dirtiest projects, and when you’re done, just hose it out. The roof of the cargo bay folds back into the cab’s roof with the press of a switch, and the rear glass rolls down into the tailgate (there are controls in the cab and the keychain, or you can just turn the key in the tailgate and the glass will come down), so bulky objects that won’t fit standing upright in an SUV can simply extend past the roof of the Envoy XUV. We can see a booming market for gardeners here. The system looks fairly sturdy and well designed, not to mention easy to use (step by step instructions are included), and a strong advance over the Avalanche – which nobody else has matched yet. Our only suggestion for improvement would be a one-touch control; at the moment you need to keep your finger on the switch for the whole process. There’s a no-pinch safety mechanism so this seems like overkill, especially on opening the roof (which must be done while parked).

Some would say that the XUV convertible cargo bay is innovative enough, especially when coupled with the sidegate for ultimate flexibility, but GMC didn’t stop there. The base engine is a new six-cylinder version of the five-cylinder used in the TrailBlazer and standard Envoy, producing an amazing 275 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque which beats competitors’ V6 engines – and it does it in a straight-six configuration, which provides a smoother idle and possibly greater durability than a V6. An optional 5.3 V8 is available for those who still think you need more cylinders; it provides 290 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque but is unnecessary for most drivers.

The engine provides good starts, thanks to a low first gear, and screams to redline once it hits its stride; it’s biased towards higher rpm, like most modern engines. While sometimes a little loud, we suspect most customers won’t complain; engines are supposed to be loud when they’re working hard, and when it’s in its normal operating range, it’s quite quiet.  Gas mileage is 15 city, 19 highway, not particularly good but better than, say, a Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator. The V8 has a little more low-end power, is a little quieter, and gets about 1 mpg less (by EPA reatings; in practice, we suspect the six is a bit more miserly).

The transmission seemed a bit uncomfortable at first, shifting with large amounts of flare (letting the engine rev between gears) and indecisiveness. Eventually we figured out how to live with each other and it seemed more responsive and less indecisive, but it still isn’t a model of smoothness and sophistication. The shifter is convenient, though, with a good detent at Drive, and the ability to select first, second, or third gear as well as Drive.

Handling is surprisingly good, with better grip than many passenger cars. We were surprised by how well the Envoy XUV kept all tires stuck to the ground, though it didn’t feel nimble or comfortable with sharp turns. That may be good, since it is, after all, a truck, and drivers shouldn’t treat trucks like sports cars. In short, the Envoy can handle emergency moves without making the driver overconfident, which is a good thing.

The ride is moderately soft and bouncy, reflecting the Envoy’s capacity. It cushions against bumps, but one tends to feel them more than once, as you bounce up and down.

Interior noise is relatively low with all windows up; having the middle window down lets in wind and road noise from the cargo area, particularly if the roof is open. The interior itself is relatively well designed, with large gauges, clearly marked and sensible controls, and a quiet and attractive color scheme. In the instrument panel, a large speedometer dominates, with a large tachometer on the left and four smaller gauges arranged in two groups on the right (oil and antifreeze temperature, gas, and voltage). Underneath all of it is the odometer, which on our car constantly told us what it was (as in ODOMETER: 6143 MI), a reminder that there is an optional driver information package, described in our articles on Silverado pickups but not ordered on our test truck. The gauges are tastefully outlined in shiny chrome, as are the four very large vents, which are able to move massive amounts of air with very little noise – a substantial achievement.

Controls are sensibly clustered with each other – all the light buttons and knobs in one panel, climate control in another, stereo in a third. The traction control shutoff sensibly lights a warning that clearly shows that traction control is off, while the rear wiper/washer is easy to see and use. The basic climate control itself includes dual zone heat sliders, and a traditional vent knob along with pushbuttons for recirculation and air conditioning, for good flexibility. OnStar is integrated into the mirror for those who buy it, and a universal garage door opener is above the mirror. Our only complaint with all these items is the radio, which seems to have a heavy bass note we were unable to do much about (our vehicle had the optional XM Radio).

Interior lighting is very good, with dome lights by every door and in the cargo bay. Each dome light is paired with an individually touch-operated personal light. Outward visibility is enhanced by large mirrors, but severely hindered in back by the midgate and convertible roof design. The pillars had to be reinforced for safety and handling, given the absence of fixed roof crossmembers, and it seems to have made them larger. The result is a collection of huge blind spots, with the rear quarter passenger-side window further blocked by the back seat headrest. Backing up and to the side was difficult and dangerous.

As with all recent GM vehicles, all surfaces on which you might put coins or other objects are lined with a rubbery plastic. There are two front cupholders, one deep and one shallow, both with rubber stickout thingies that hold smaller cups in place. A larger bay under the center stack can be used for EZ-Passes and such objects, and large map pockets in the front doors are standard. Back seat passengers can use foldout cupholders from the back of the center stack.

The base price of the Envoy XUV, $31,240, matches the standard Envoy and beats some competitive larger SUVs. It comes with a transmission oil cooler, integral fog/cornering lights, heavy duty trailer equipment, four wheel antilock disc brakes, alarm, 17″ aluminum wheels, rear wiper/washer/defogger, dual zone climate control, remote, power windows and locks, universal garage door opener, tilt wheel, and cruise – all standard. Our vehicle also had the optional $700 SLE package, with power driver’s seat, heated outside mirrors, and an automatic rearview mirror with compass and thermometer. Other options on our vehicle included a load levelling suspension ($375) and adjustable pedals ($150).

The GMC Envoy XUV is a unique vehicle in many ways, and many people will find it absolutely indispensible. If you don’t handle dirty or tall cargo often, a minivan (or similar SUV such as the Aztek or Pacifica) will probably be a better buy, since they are far cheaper and more economical, but if you know you’re going to be exceeding the capacity of the roof now and then, or if you’re going to be getting the back dirty, but don’t want a pickup, the XUV is a terrific option.

Specifications

Overview

Models:

GMC Envoy, Envoy XL, Envoy XUV, Envoy Denali & Envoy Denali XL

Body style / driveline:

4-door, 5- and 7-passenger sport utilities, front engine, 2- or 4-wheel drive

Construction:

body on frame

EPA vehicle class:

midsize sport utilities

Manufacturing location:

Envoy: Moraine, Ohio; Envoy XL: Moraine, Ohio and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Envoy XUV:  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Key competitors:

Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Lexus RX330, Acura MDX, Mercury Mountaineer, Lincoln Aviator

Engines

 

Vortec 4200 4.2L I-6 (LL8)

Vortec 5300 5.3L V-8 (LH6)

Type:

4.2L I-6

5.3L V-8

Displacement (cu in / cc):

256 / 4160

327 / 5328

Bore & stroke (in / mm):

3.66 x 4.01 / 93 x 102

3.78 x 3.27 / 96 x 92

Block material:

cast aluminum

cast aluminum

Cylinder head material:

cast aluminum, A356-T6 using lost-foam process

cast aluminum, A356-T6

Valvetrain:

DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable cam phasing – exhaust cam

OHV, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic roller lifters

Ignition system:

coil-on-plug, dual platinum electrodes

coil near plug ignition, platinum-tipped spark plugs, low-resistance spark plug wires

Fuel delivery:

sequential fuel injection

sequential fuel injection

Compression ratio:

10:1

9.5:1

Horsepower                   (hp / kw @ rpm):

275 / 205 @ 6000

300 / 224 @ 5200

Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):

275 / 373 @ 3600

330 / 447 @ 4000

Recommended unleaded fuel:

87 octane

87 octane

Maximum engine speed (rpm):

6300

5900

Emissions controls:

3-way catalytic converter, positive crankcase ventilation, evaporative collection system

3-way catalytic converter, exhaust gas recirculation, positive crankcase ventilation, evaporative collection system

Estimated fuel economy:

2WD

4WD

2WD

4WD

MPG (city / hwy / combined)
Envoy:
EnvoyXL:
EnvoyXUV:

16 / 21 / 18
15 / 19 / 16
15 / 19 / 16

15 / 21 / 18
15 / 19 / 16
15 / 19 / 17

N/A
16 / 19 / 17
16 / 19 / 17

N/A
15 / 18 / 16
15 / 18 / 16

MPIG (city / hwy / combined)
Envoy:
EnvoyXL:
EnvoyXUV:

19 / 27 / 22
18 / 25 / 20
18 / 25 / 20

18 / 27 / 21
16 / 24 / 19
16 / 24 / 19

18 / 26 / 21
18 / 26 / 21
19 / 27 / 22

17 / 25 / 20
17 / 25 / 20
17 / 25 / 20

L/100km (city / hwy / comb.)
Envoy:
EnvoyXL:
EnvoyXUV:

15.1 / 10.4 / 13.0
16.0 / 11.2 / 13.9
16.0 / 11.2 / 13.9

15.6 / 10.6 / 13.3
17.2 / 11.8 / 14.8
17.2 / 11.8 / 14.8

15.8 / 10.7 / 13.5
15.8 / 10.7 / 13.5
15.2 / 10.4 / 13.1

16.4 / 11.4 / 14.1
16.6 / 11.5 / 14.3
16.6 / 11.5 / 14.3

Transmission

Type:

Hydra-Matic 4L60-E, 4-speed, rear-wheel-drive, electronically controlled automatic overdrive with torque converter clutch

Gear ratios (:1):

 

  First:

3.06

  Second:

1.63

  Third:

1.00

  Fourth:

0.70

  Reverse:

2.29

Final drive ratio:

3.42:1 (std); 3.73:1 (opt); 4.10:1 (opt with 4.2L only)

Chassis/Suspension

Front:

independent, double A-Arm, 46-mm shocks, 34-mm stabilizer bar

Rear:

5-link solid axle (opt: electronically controlled air suspension), 36-mm shocks, 31-mm stabilizer bar on 2WD, 31-mm stabilizer bar on 4WD

Transfer case system:

Autotrac (standard on 4WD)

Traction control:

electronic traction assist optional on 2WD

Steering type:

rack-and-pinion (hydraulically assisted)

Steering ratio:

Envoy, Envoy Denali: 20.4:1; Envoy XL, Envoy XL Denali: 18.5:1; Envoy XUV: 18.5:1

Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock:

Envoy, Envoy Denali: 3.82; Envoy XL, Envoy XL Denali: 3.48; Envoy XUV: 3.5

Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m):

Envoy, Envoy Denali: 36.4 / 11.1; Envoy XL, Envoy XL Denali: 41.3 / 12.6; Envoy XUV: 40.8 / 12.45

Brakes

 

Envoy, Envoy Denali

Envoy XL, Envoy XUV, Envoy XL Denali

Type:

4-wheel vented disc with front aluminum dual piston calipers, 4-wheel ABS, rear drum-in-hat parking brake

4-wheel vented disc with front aluminum dual piston calipers, 4-wheel ABS, rear drum-in-hat parking brake

Rotor diameter x thickness (in / mm):

front: 12 x 1.14 / 305 x 29
rear: 12.8 x 0.78 / 325 x 20

front: 12.8 x 1.14 / 325 x 29
rear: 12.8 x 0.78 / 325 x 20

Total swept area (sq in / sq cm):

front: 210 / 1353
rear: 217 / 1397

front: 228 / 1469
rear: 217 / 1397

Wheels/Tires

Wheel size & type:

17-inch x 7-inch 6-lug cast aluminum

Tires:

P245/65R17 all-season, steel-belted radials

Dimensions

Exterior

 

Envoy, Envoy Denali

Envoy XL, Envoy XL Denali

Envoy XUV

Wheelbase (in / mm):

113 / 2869

129 / 3275

129 / 3275

Overall length (in / mm):

191.6 / 4866

207.6 / 5271

208.4 / 5293

Overall width (in / mm):

74.7 / 1897

74.7 / 1897

74.7 / 1897

Overall height (in / mm):

71.9 / 1826 (w/o luggage rack)

75.5 / 1917 (w/o luggage   rack)

72.6 / 1844

Track (in / mm):

front: 63.1 / 1603

rear: 62.1 / 1576

front: 63.1 / 1603

rear: 62.1 / 1576

front: 63.1 / 1603

rear: 62.1 / 1576

Minimum ground clearance (in / mm):

8 / 203

8 / 203

8 / 203

Ground to top of rear load floor (in / mm):

32.1 / 817

31.9 / 810

31.5 / 800

Step-in height (in / mm):

18.2 / 462

18.9 / 481

18.9 / 481

Approach angle (degrees):

29

2WD: 34.5 / 4WD: 34

2WD: 34.5 / 4WD: 34

Departure angle (degrees):

23

2WD: 23.5 / 4WD: 23.3

2WD: 23.5 / 4WD: 23.3

Curb weight: (lb / kg):

2WD: 4425 / 2007
4WD: 4612 / 2092

2WD: 4773 / 2165
4WD:  4954 / 2247

2WD: 4945 / 2243
4WD:  5042 / 2287

Weight distribution     (% front / rear):

 

2WD: 53 / 47
4WD: 54 / 46

2WD w/Vortec 4200: 52 / 48
4WD w/Vortec 4200: 52 / 48
2WD w/Vortec 5300: 53 / 47
4WD w/Vortec 5300: 55 / 45

2WD w/Vortec 4200: 52 / 48
4WD w/Vortec 4200: 52 / 48
2WD w/Vortec 5300: 53 / 47
4WD w/Vortec 5300: 55 / 45

Interior

 

Envoy, Envoy Denali

Envoy XL, Envoy Denali XL

Envoy XUV

Seating capacity:

2 / 3

2 / 3 / 2

2 / 3 

Head room (in / mm):

1st row: 40.2 / 1021

2nd row: 39.6 / 1006

1st row: 40.2 / 1021

2nd row: 39.6 / 1006

3rd row: 38.5 / 978

1st row: 40.2 / 1021

2nd row: 39.4 / 1001

Leg room (in / mm):

1st row: 41.4 / 1052

2nd row: 37 / 940

1st row: 41.4 / 1052

2nd row: 37 / 940

3rd row: 31.2 / 792

1st row: 41.4 / 1052

2nd row: 37 / 940

Shoulder room (in / mm):

1st row: 58.5 / 1485

2nd row: 58.5 / 1485

1st row: 58.5 / 1485

2nd row: 58.5 / 1485

3rd row: 58.3 / 1482

1st row: 58.5 / 1485

2nd row: 58.5 / 1485

Hip room (in / mm):

1st row: 55.5 / 1410

2nd row: 58.1 / 1476

1st row: 55.5 / 1410

2nd row: 58.4 / 1483

3rd row: 45.9 / 1166

1st row: 55.5 / 1410

2nd row: 58.4 / 1483

Cargo length floor, behind 1st /2nd /3rd row, (in / mm):  

1st row: 70 / 1778

2nd row: 39.7 / 1008

1st row: 85.5 / 2180

2nd row: 58.6 / 1488

3rd row: 23.5 / 597

1st row: 76 / 1930

2nd row: 44 / 1117.6

Cargo volume, behind    1st /2nd /3rd row, (cu ft / L):*

1st row: 80.1 / 2268

2nd row: 43.7/ 1127

1st row: 107.4 / 3041

2nd row: 66.5 / 1689

3rd row: 23.4 / 594.4

1st row: 108.8 / 3081

2nd row: 49.1 / 1390.3

*Maximum cargo measured at top of seat back.

Capacities

  Envoy (Vortec 4200)

Envoy XL, Envoy XUV (Vortec 4200)

Envoy XL, Envoy Denali, Envoy XL Denali             (Vortec 5300)

Envoy XUV

GVWR, standard   (lb / kg):

2WD: 5550 / 2517

4WD: 5750 / 2608

2WD: 6200 / 2812

4WD: 6400 / 2903

2WD: 6200 / 2812

4WD: 6400 / 2903

2WD: 6200 / 2812

4WD: 6400 / 2903

Payload, base 
(lb / kg):

2WD: 1125 / 510

4WD: 1138 / 516

2WD: 1427 / 647

4WD: 1446 / 656

2WD: 1378 / 625

4WD: 1393 / 632

2WD: 1265 / 573.8

4WD: 1358 / 616

Trailer towing maximum (lb / kg):

2WD: 6300 / 2858

4WD: 6100 / 2767

2WD: 6000 / 2722

4WD: 5800 / 2630

2WD: 7100 / 3221

4WD: 6700 / 3039

2WD: 6500 / 2948.4

4WD: 6400 / 2903

Fuel tank (gal / L):

22 / 83.3

25 / 96.1

25 / 96.1

25 / 96.1

Engine oil (qt / L):

7 / 6.6

7 / 6.6

7 / 6.6

7 / 6.6

Cooling system     (qt / L):

13.9 / 13.1

15.3 / 14.4

18 / 17

18 / 17

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