when it seemed no one could find a new name that's sporty,
capable, intriguing and practical, leave it to Chevrolet
to create one, "Uplander." That's the moniker
headlining its version of General Motors' new quartet of
minivan replacements from its separate divisions for '05.
new seven-passenger contender in a steadfast minivan market
won't be a yesterday's leftover, despite a holdover vehicle
base. Instead, Chevy - the lion's share - joins Pontiac
(Montana SV6), Buick (Terraza), and Saturn (RELAY) in a
launch due sometime this Fall. This front-drive newcomer
has about 90 percent minivan DNA, and then adds sport utility
genes to the mix, including optional Versatrak all-wheel-drive.
GM even coined a new designation for the line up -- crossover
sport vans -- perhaps to appease the now grown up kids who
vowed they would never own a minivan as an adult.
the past, only Pontiac added zap to the outgoing Montana,
hinting it had true off-road talent. The new one stays with
"Montana," but highlights the 3.5 liter, 200-HP
V-6 power plant name (with 220-lb. ft. of torque), then
adds an optional 110-volt power outlet, fold-down second
and third row seating, ceiling rail storage system with
DVD, plus "PhatNoise" entertainment. (The "in
crowd" will know how to pronounce that one). Chevy
abandons its long-in-the-tooth Venture name that lived through
'04. Buick and Saturn are new to the market, not being in
the segment before.
the four-pack of newcomers, an authoritative nose, defining
fold lines and dark cladding trim minimize the low-deck
minivan characteristics. The typical walkthrough between
seats is still there. However, if you squint and pretend
there are no side sliding doors for this unibody-on-ladder
frame vehicle, and you might be tempted to think "sport
utility." It adds a welcome series of in-floor rear
storage bins to secure hidden treasures.
thing GM likely will combine in the future is a curious
array of three separate antennas for standard and satellite
radio systems, as well as, OnStar security communications
like it displayed on its prototype.