There are a certain group of drivers out there who are interested in what a sport-utility vehicle has to offer them in terms of cargo space, passenger capacity and ride height, but who are equally uncertain as to whether they want to make the move to driving a truck. While many improvements have been made over the past few years in terms of handling and ride quality, there is a strong association in the minds of buyers between trucks and a bumpy, hard to handle driving experience. The brutal size of some SUV's is also intimidating to those who have been reared on a succession of compact and mid-size automobiles.
Sensing the need for a type of vehicle that could bridge the gap between sedans and sport-utilities, automakers began to experiment with a new type of vehicle that eventually became labeled as a crossover. Combining the platform of a car with the all-wheel drive and larger interior volume of an SUV, crossovers sprung up as sort of a marriage of convenience between comfort and practicality. Given that there were no real rules regarding how this type of automobile should look or drive, there were many unique takes on the concept born from the enthusiasm of car companies trying to cash in on something new.
General Motors found themselves dealing with both a number of successes in the crossover world and a few spectacular failures, such as the Pontiac Aztek. They turned to their GMC truck brand to try and see if they could make use of any existing platforms to create a fresh crossover vehicle. Their first attempt was with the GMC Envoy XUV, a full-size SUV which they modified to include a unique cargo area that was unlike anything else on the market. After lukewarm sales caused them to move on after only a few years of production, it was decided that GMC would receive an entirely new crossover based on a platform that would also be shared with Buick and Saturn. Named the Acadia, the 8-passenger people mover would replace the venerable GMC Safari van which had recently been retired.
This article discusses both the Acadia and the Envoy XUV, two very different vehicles which represent the variety that exists within the crossover universe. Each of these used GMC crossovers has their own particular strengths and weaknesses, and both serve a very different segment of the market.
2004 - 2005 GMC Envoy XUV
The success of the GMC Envoy, an SUV which was introduced as a more modern replacement for the aging compact Jimmy, encouraged GMC to explore modifying the platform as an inexpensive and quick method of building a crossover. What emerged from the design exercises was an interesting take on the traditional four-door box that most SUV's at the time found themselves occupying. The 2004 - 2005 GMC Envoy XUV employs a version of GM's Midgate technology, which allows for the extension of the vehicle's exterior cargo area into the passenger compartment by lowering a steel and glass 'tailgate' that separates the two. On the Envoy XUV, however, the term 'exterior cargo area' is some what of a misnomer. The most innovative feature of the vehicle is the fact that the roof covering the rubber-lined rear section of the vehicle can be completely retracted, offering an open bed of over 6 feet that in many ways matches that of a standard pickup truck. Riding on the same extended platform as the Envoy XL, the crossover can be thought of as a variation on the Chevrolet Avalanche, albeit one that employs fixed side panels in place of a true pickup bed.
Beyond the versatility of the retractable Midgate and roof, the Envoy XUV also offers either a 275 horsepower, 4.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine or a 5.3-liter V-8 that generates 300 horsepower. The Envoy XUV can tow in the neighborhood of 6,000 lbs, adding yet another dimension of utility to an already feature-packed vehicle. Interior accommodations can also be loaded up with the standard leather, entertainment and comfort options common to SUV's at this price point, making the vehicle quite comfortable for all passengers.
The 2004 - 2005 GMC Envoy XUV is a crossover which doesn't share the same car-based platform philosophy as many other vehicles in its class, but instead takes the concept in a new direction, making it a compelling used crossover for those who are not afraid to be different.
2007 GMC Acadia
The 2007 GMC Acadia represented the first front-wheel drive automobile ever offered by the brand more associated with trucks and SUV's than refined crossover vehicles. While all-wheel drive is an option, the Acadia is definitely not a related to any of the more rugged vehicles the company has produced in the past. GM's hope is that the mid-size crossover will attract buyers who may have never previously considered purchasing a GMC, helping them to expand their sales in a time when full-size vehicles are on the decline.
Drivers of the crossover are treated to a powerful V-6 engine which can also be found in vehicles from corporate stable mate Cadillac. In the Acadia it produces 275 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, numbers which are good enough to help place it near the front of the mid-size crossover pack. This motor is matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission which provides smooth shifts at exactly the right time, with no hunting for gears during elevation changes or highway passing maneuvers. The 2007 Acadia's drivetrain is one of the most well-designed to have ever found its way inside of a GMC product and it represents a big step forward for the company.
The interior of the Acadia has also been infused with a better sense of style than many other GMC vehicles. Gone are the inexpensive plastics and hard surfaces that dominated the brand's offerings earlier in the decade and in their place are materials that match the upscale image that GMC is attempting to get across. Passenger room is hefty, with a third row of seating that folds down to provide cavernous amounts of cargo space. Even with the vehicle carrying a full complement of passengers, the Acadia's 'trunk' still dwarfs the mid-size competition.
The 2007 GMC Acadia is a used crossover vehicle which will leave buyers wanting for nothing. With great capacity for both passengers and cargo combined with excellent power, it presents significant value on the secondhand market.