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As You Like It
Spoil Yourself in the 2002 GMC Envoy

by Kim Cook

It seems every busy professional person could use a little help.

Like that faithful administrative assistant who works tirelessly to make your business day run smoothly and frees you to do more productive things, the all-new 2002 GMC Envoy is a God-send. Driving the wonderfully equipped GMC Envoy is like having your own "virtual assistant" along to handle the little things. Far more sophisticated than you might expect from a manufacturer specializing in trucks and SUVs, the Envoy is a remarkable mid-sized, four-door luxury vehicle.

In the Lap of Luxury
Imagine sinking into sumptuous leather that feels more like fine furniture than automobile seating. Then, with the touch of one of two memory buttons, the Envoy sets the tone for your driving pleasure: the 8-way power driver seat moves to your favorite position; the sophisticated Bose stereo system tunes to your favorite station and sets your preferred volume; the climate control system initiates your temperature and fan-speed preferences.

You can then focus on the more important aspects of driving, like paying attention to the road, instead of worrying about gadgetry. And should you need to adjust any of the preferences set by Envoy's memory feature, controls for nearly all of them (including A/C temperature and fan, stereo/CD, and driver information programs) are at thumb's reach on the face of the steering wheel.

But the automation doesn't stop there. The dual-zone climate control allows Envoy to maintain your ideal temperature no matter what the outside weather, even if the driver's and front passenger's ideas of "ideal" are two different things. Envoy will regulate up to 25-degrees difference in each zone.

Envoy will even entertain the rear seat passengers with the industry's first-ever factory-installed DVD Rear Seat Entertainment system. The flip-down 7-inch Wide-Screen LCD is positioned above and behind the driver, and plays audio/video in both DVD and CD formats. A remote control and parental mute override control are also part of the package, along with two wireless headphones.

At a Glance
The Envoy's exterior styling, while a clean and sleek shape, is rather typical of other SUVs on the road. Body-colored bumpers and side moldings help to create a contemporary image. The Envoy offers a comfortable step-in height that is little higher than a full-sized car. Running boards are offered as a $325 option but, in driving our test vehicle, we felt they interfered with entry more than they helped. As for the truck heritage of the GMC line, only the large 17-inch Michelin SUV tires hint at the Envoy's lineage. From there up, and especially on the inside, it's all luxury.

Smooth Sailing
The Envoy is easily maneuvered with hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering and is an effortless pleasure to drive. The refined ride is almost like floating on air — perhaps almost too soft for those accustomed to a firmer European luxury ride. GMC engineers have reduced the noise and vibrations inside the cabin so that the travel experience is somewhat surreal. The landscape outside slips by quietly as you enjoy a peaceful drive enhanced by random soft melodies from the optional 6-disc CD changer. It's practically a spa on wheels.

Mechanically Speaking

The Envoy is 270 horsepower strong, surpassing its competitors like the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Its totally new, all-aluminum Vortec 4200 inline six-cylinder engine is so quiet that you might accidentally try to restart it, not realizing it's already running. So, to protect against starter re-engagement if you make that mistake, an interrupt feature called "Intelli-start" has been added. GMC has thought of everything.

And, with towing capacity of about 6,000 pounds (with the 4.10 axle ratio), this is no weakling SUV. "Envoy offers the power of an eight-cylinder engine with the fuel economy of a six-cylinder," says Tony DiSalle, GMC Envoy Brand Manager.

The Envoy XL
How could GMC improve upon an already impressive package? Increase the seating capacity, so more passengers can enjoy it. The new Envoy XL is 16 inches longer than the standard model and features a third-row seat, providing ample room for seven passengers. Unlike many third row seats that are small and cramped, Envoy XL's third row will comfortably accommodate two adults about 6'2" and 200 pounds each. With both rear seats folded down, the huge 100.2 cubic-foot cargo area (larger than Explorer's or Durango's) has a flat loading surface.

In Envy of an Envoy
It's nearly impossible to list all of Envoy's features in the short space of this review, but we hope we've piqued your interest in this vehicle with which we were truly impressed.

Now, we must conclude by saying that the Envoy is not for technophobes. If you can't program your VCR, or retrieve messages from your digital answering machine, we wouldn't suggest the Envoy unless you have a techno-savvy 10-year old to help you get everything set up the way you like it. But if you embrace technology and want to be on the cutting edge, we suggest a test drive. Whether you go for the standard model, or the XL, two- or four-wheel drive, you too will be in envy of an Envoy.

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