The first GMC Envoy was just the nameplate of a more luxurious trim line of the midsize SUV that is the GMC Jimmy. But the Envoy name was destined to be more than that. Throughout its run as GMC’s standalone entry in the midsize SUV market, the Envoy steadily gained ground in the SUV world. However, a spike in oil prices in the late 2000s forced the Envoy and many other SUVs to give way to smaller, more efficient crossovers. But to this day, Envoy fans continue to rally behind what was once a popular, well-loved SUV.
1998: The high-end Jimmy
Being just a pimped-up version of the regular Jimmy, the Envoy retained much of the inner workings of the Jimmy such as the engine and the basic frame. Still, being a high-end version of the Jimmy gave the Envoy some nice perks. Some of the bonus features on the first generation Envoys include High-Intensity Discharge or HID headlamps, a power remote-controlled trunk release system, heated side mirrors, heated front seats, and a Bose audio system. It also offered some optional features like a differential lock, an OnStar safety system, a camper or towing package, and a power moonroof.
2002: Building the Envoy name
After a two year hiatus GMC finally released the Envoy once more, this time to fully replace the old GMC Jimmy that was discontinued in 2001. While the new GMC Envoy is still not one hundred percent original—it shared much of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer’s interior styling—it is definitely a big step up from its previous form.
The GMC Envoy debuted in 2002 as both a regular five-seat midsized SUV and as the Envoy XL which has an added third row to bring up the seating capacity to seven. It was fitted with a Vortec 4200 inline-6 engine that boasted of an initial 270 HP to 291 HP after the engine got upgraded for the 2006 model year. The Envoy enjoyed a warm welcome back then and was even awarded the Sport/Utility of the Year award by Motor Trend Magazine.
In 2003, the Vortec 4200 V8 engine was made available for the Envoy XL while the regular I6 engine received a small boost of 5 HP.
2004: The Envoy XUV
GMC tried to bridge the gap between the pickup truck and the SUV by introducing the GMC Envoy XUV. The Envoy XUV was similar in size to the extended-length Envoy but instead of a third row, the XUV had a cargo space and a retractable rear roof.
While the Envoy XUV tried to create a new market for those who want both the cargo space of a pickup and the sleek looks of an SUV, a lukewarm reception led to its eventual discontinuation—along with the Envoy XL—in 2005.
2009: The Last of the Envoys
After a good eight-year run, the GMC Envoy was ultimately phased out after the 2009 model year because it couldn’t quite keep up with the fast-changing SUV market. Together with its discontinuation came the closing of the GM plant in Moraine, Ohio for which HBO even made a poignant documentary entitled “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.“