you have to look twice to make sure Chevy's Uplander isn't
really a sport utility vehicle, then GM's designers have
done their job. Take a second look, however, and you notice
the subtleties that set it apart from an off-road intender.
The low deck, perfect for loading without having to hoist
packages to an uncomfortable height. Side door handles situated
just a few inches apart by the "B" pillar post
that divides front and second row passengers in most vehicles
-- the signature of sliding doors.
the Uplander -- and its relatives the Buick Terraza, Pontiac
SV6 and Saturn Relay -- are vans, and not the sport utility
kind. But look again. What minivan ever had a sportier roofline
with a two-thirds luggage rack, or hosted a satellite radio
nub for reception, or spun through its paces on five-spoke,
17-inch sport wheels with a noticeable sense of power and
performance. Maybe GM in developing its "crossover
sports van" knows something we all suspected: There's
a way to mesh the best features of a minivan with an SUV
without losing its main intent.
Uplander, that debuted a year ago, was a nice, fun-to-drive
package to begin with. Now, for 2006, there's some fine-tuning
to keep it fresh. Bordeaux Red and Amber Bronze Metallic
join the exterior color palette. And side-impact airbags
are options to protect doorside riders in the first and
second rows. The biggest change is an upcoming powerplant
upgrade for '06 with an all-new 3900, 3.9-liter V-6 added
to drivetrains, gaining 34 more horsepower (to 235) and
23 additional lb. ft. of torque (to 239) over the standard
3500, 3.5-liter V-6. They are mated to the latest suspension
technology for safety and handling.
inside remains a treat, with room for seven or a passel
of gear with the foldable seats down, and a funky "PhatNoise"
entertainment system with 40-gig removable hard drive to
house personal favorites or play pre-loaded Nickelodeon
TV, eMusic, audio books or video games (Listen to the hush
of the ear-phone adapted rear crowd, as someone up front
hears a different sound-system tune).
front or all-wheel-drive, at a mid- to high-20s price point
and high teens to mid-20s fuel economy, we think this sporty
van continues to put the "blink" in double take.