Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that performance of the 2009 GMC Envoy is starkly middle-of-the-road.
Cars.com reports that the GMC "Envoy's 4.2-liter inline-six-cylinder makes 285 horsepower," while the "Envoy Denalis feature a 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8"; with these capabilities, the GMC Envoy "rivals the Ford Explorer in passing power," they contend. MyRide.com attests that "the 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine that comes standard on the Envoy is smooth and powerful, and it's a perfect companion for this vehicle." Kelley Blue Book agrees, noting that the "[very impressive] 4.2-liter in-line six-cylinder engine is all the [GMC] Envoy needs, unless it will be towing something really big." In such a case, this source recommends the larger engine, which "delivers a little more horsepower and a usable increase in torque, and at lower engine speeds." Edmunds acknowledges "the most enjoyable aspect of the Envoy [GMC] is its peppy performance that comes by way of its brawny engine lineup."
According to Cars.com, "all [Envoy GMC] models use a four-speed automatic transmission." ConsumerGuide reports "the transmission is smooth and responsive."
Because the 2009 GMC Envoy is powered by large engines, one should not expect stellar gasoline mileage. ConsumerGuide testing indicates "a 2WD Denali averaged 15.2 mpg." EPA estimates for the smaller inline-six are 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway; the larger V-8 gets 1 mpg less on both counts.
Handling and steering in the 2009 GMC Envoy elicit praise from some sources. Cars.com says that "handling is on the slow side, but the SUV has a satisfying steering feel."
ConsumerGuide reports that the Envoy GMC's "brakes have good stopping control but spongy pedal action." Edmunds suggests that "the steering offers little in the way of road feel, and handling is sloppy around corners due to the overly soft suspension," but "off-road, the Envoy is capable of tackling the moderate terrain owners are likely to encounter while accessing trailheads and campsites." MyRide.com also points out that "the longer Envoy XL and Denali XL lack the responsiveness and handling of the standard-length models."
Kelley Blue Book praises the Envoy GMC's off-road capabilities, saying, "Extreme lean and dive are kept in check by the complex five-link rear suspension and double A-arms up front...[offering] a car-like ride but still has the ground clearance and suspension settings to take it far off-road."
TheCarConnection.com's editors observe that the performance from the Envoy's standard 291-horsepower, 4.2-liter six-cylinder engine is adequate for most needs, though it's not particularly perky from a standstill. The 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 that's standard on top Denali models and optional through the rest of the lineup is strongly recommended for towing, as it has plenty of power on reserve, works especially well with the four-speed automatic transmission, and doesn't have any real-world fuel-economy penalty versus the six, due to the fitment of GM's Active Fuel Management technology on the V-8.