2009 GMC Envoy Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
February 24, 2009

The 2009 GMC Envoy is only somewhat suited to hauling passengers from point A to point B. But if you tow frequently, the Envoy might still make sense.

At TheCarConnection.com, editors seek to bring you the best possible insights into the 2009 GMC Envoy. Experts have compiled input from reviewers across the Web, as well as their own driving impressions so that you have access to the most comprehensive review available.

With the 2009 Envoy, General Motors’ GMC brand—known for its neatly styled, comfortable work trucks—offers a truck-based SUV that is closely related to the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, the Buick Rainier, and the Saab 9-7X. The 2009 GMC Envoy is not as good at hauling passengers as other options, but it tackles towing fairly respectably.

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. Both engines can be equipped with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The Envoy's maximum tow rating is 6,600 pounds. 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. The V-8 is also easier to tolerate day to day, as the six is smooth in operation but generates a coarse drone in the cabin.

The 2009 GMC Envoy has reasonably comfortable seating, but road and engine noise is prominent. The ride is quite soft, but can be bouncy on the roughest roads; its handling isn't very crisp or secure, either. Interior appointments feel rather outdated, and the drab materials lack a high-quality feel. The extended-length XL models are no longer offered, so all Envoys have two rows of seating for five, but the overall interior space is disappointing compared to more modern designs. A few new exterior colors are available for 2009.

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The top-of-the-line 2009 GMC Envoy Denali model gets a seemingly endless list of additional equipment, including upgraded mechanicals and plush luxury features, such as a load-leveling rear suspension, upgraded wheels and tires, a stronger alternator, a luggage rack, heated mirrors, power heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel controls, power-adjustable pedals, and Bose speakers. Major options include a navigation system, a sunroof, and DVD entertainment for the backseat. XM Satellite Radio is now standard across the line, and hands-free Bluetooth technology is at last offered.

The 2009 GMC Envoy has been hit-and-miss in crash-test performance. The 2009 GMC Envoy maintained five-star results from the feds in side-impact protection, but it earned just three stars—the lowest score typically awarded—in the federal government's frontal crash tests for driver protection and four stars for passenger protection. And in IIHS tests, the Envoy was given "acceptable" ratings for frontal protection, "marginal" for side protection (unusual for an SUV), and "poor" for rear impact. GM's StabiliTrak stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard; curtain airbags were made standard for '08.

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2009 GMC Envoy

Styling

The 2009 GMC Envoy looks, not surprisingly, like an SUV inside and out.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that reviewers' reactions to the interior of the 2009 GMC Envoy are mixed—but most are satisfied with the exterior.

The GMC Envoy was last redesigned in 2002 and has seen few changes in styling since; 2009 brings some new exterior color choices but not much more.

Calling it an "upscale twin to sister division Chevrolet's TrailBlazer midsize SUV," Edmunds says the Envoy GMC 2009 "takes a trip uptown with fancier styling." MyRide.com contends that when compared with others in its class, "Envoy may be the best-looking of the bunch." Cars.com reports that "a shield-shaped grille helps give the four-door [GMC] Envoy a distinct identity." ConsumerGuide describes the Envoy GMC as having "a traditional truck-type design," and Kelley Blue Book proclaims the GMC Envoy "strikes a rugged yet refined pose that seems equally comfortable off-road or at valet parking." MyRide.com remarks that the 2009 GMC Envoy "looks like it's ready to tackle the tough jobs (and it is), but the styling is conservative and upscale."

Reviewers aren’t quite as fond of the interior of the 2009 GMC Envoy, although there are some exceptions. Kelley Blue Book has nothing but accolades for the Envoy GMC's interior, describing it as "typical GMC: simple and clean...the instrument panel controls are handsomely adorned with wood trim and sturdy black plastic." ConsumerGuide is less impressed with the 2009 GMC Envoy's interior: "mainstream Envoys use unimpressive imitation-wood trim," but nonetheless "are slightly more upscale than similar Chevrolet TrailBlazers for interior décor." Edmunds notes that "brushed metallic [dresses] up the interior" of the GMC Envoy but adds "that luxurious effect is sullied somewhat by the use of low-grade plastics on the dash and door panels." MyRide.com, however, reports that "the brushed nickel interior trim looks classy."

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2009 GMC Envoy

Performance

The 2009 GMC Envoy offers a V-8 engine that provides decent fuel economy and good towing capabilities. Unfortunately, handling isn’t up to snuff.

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.

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2009 GMC Envoy

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 GMC Envoy is quite noisy—but it's also reasonably comfortable.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 GMC Envoy offers reasonable comfort for driver and passengers.

Cars.com reports that the five-seat 2009 Envoy GMC "contains reclining front bucket seats and a split, folding rear seat." Edmunds comments that the 2009 GMC Envoy offers "a roomy cabin and plentiful features ... [it] easily accommodates five adults, but there is no third-seat option." ConsumerGuide touts "good headroom and legroom, even for taller folks" and "seats [that] are fairly comfortable and supportive," while "available power-adjustable pedals help tailor a comfortable position, especially for shorter drivers."

Cargo capacity in the 2009 GMC Envoy generally gets good reviews. ConsumerGuide reports that the "60/40 split 2nd row seat with automatic-folding headrests converts easily to provide ample space." Edmunds gives the specifics: "with those seats folded, the Envoy has a maximum cargo capacity of 80 cubic feet." Cars.com notes that "cargo volume behind the back seat measures 43.7 cubic feet. With the bench folded down...cargo space [is] similar to the Explorer but more than the 4Runner...and Grand Cherokee." In terms of cabin storage in the 2009 GMC Envoy, MyRide.com points out that the "center console features an enclosed compartment, an open storage bin, with a pair of superb cup holders forward of the shifter." The one downside is that "we'd like more places to put stuff in the center console area."

The interior quality of the Envoy GMC is a mixed bag; on one hand, the GMC Envoy's "mediocre interior materials prevent it from seriously challenging the class leaders" says Edmunds. On the other hand, "backlit power-window buttons and steering wheel-mounted controls are two of the Envoy's finer features—details too often overlooked by other manufacturers," according to Kelley Blue Book. KBB also notes that the Envoy has a "plush interior."

Ride quality is, according to several reviewers, a strong point for the Envoy. MyRide.com states that "once underway, the Envoy feels smooth and stable, even at high speeds." Editors note that the Envoy "rides smooth and car-like at lower speeds without being overly soft in corners. Yet it's sufficiently compliant for stable handling on bumpy roads." Cars.com reports that the "regular-suspension Envoy rides similar to a car on smooth surfaces."

Noise aboard the GMC Envoy is a problem; "tire noise is audible at highway speeds, though that's drowned out by considerable wind noise, especially from around the sunroof—even when it's closed," according to ConsumerGuide. This source also notes "the six-cylinder engine cruises quietly enough but sounds ragged at full throttle." That’s an assessment shared by the editors of TheCarConnection.com, and it’s another reason to opt for the V-8.

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2009 GMC Envoy

Safety

Despite its significant size, the 2009 GMC Envoy is just adequate here.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com are disappointed to note that the 2009 GMC Envoy scores only average marks for safety—whereas most large SUVs generally perform better overall.

Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the more stringent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) give the 2009 GMC Envoy relatively low marks in frontal impacts. NHTSA's front-impact rating is only three stars for the driver, far off the mark for most new cars. In other testing, the 2009 Envoy fares somewhat better. NHTSA awards the Envoy GMC excellent marks in side-impact tests—which is good, since most injuries result from side impacts.

Standard safety equipment in the GMC Envoy is robust. According to Cars.com, it includes "all-disc antilock brakes, electronic stability control and side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system; Edmunds reports that "the 2009 GMC Envoy gains head curtain airbags as standard equipment." MyRide.com also notes that "safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS) as standard equipment on all models. Head-curtain and side-impact airbags are optional."

Visibility in the 2009 GMC Envoy gets mixed reviews. ConsumerGuide says that while "the driver has a good view to the front and sides" in the GMC Envoy, "headrests and roof pillars hamper lane changes and backing up." Kelley Blue Book, however, reports that GMC's design has "enough glass around the sides to give the driver a good 360-degree view."

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2009 GMC Envoy

Features

The 2009 GMC Envoy offers the whole kit and caboodle in terms of features, but at a premium price.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 GMC Envoy offers a wide array of standard and optional features. The Envoy can be configured in nearly endless ways and is available in three main trims: SLE, SLT, and Denali.

Kelley Blue Book details many of the standard features of the 2009 GMC Envoy: "StabiliTrak, illuminated entry, keyless remote, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring system, power liftgate release, dual power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, head-curtain side airbags, XM Satellite Radio, rear window wiper/washer and aluminum wheels." With the SLT upgrade to the Envoy GMC, buyers get "a garage door opener, heated mirrors, eight-way power driver's seat and the TravelNote digital recorder." Cars.com reports that GMC "Envoys have either rear-wheel drive or Autotrac four-wheel drive, which incorporates a two-speed transfer case." MyRide.com notes that the Denali upgrade offers "a premium leather interior, unique styling cues, new 18-inch aluminum wheels, and all of the features of the SLT."

Kelley Blue Book reports additional Envoy GMC options include "limited-slip rear differential, rear load-leveling suspension [and] locking rear axle." ConsumerGuide lists the "power-adjustable pedals, DVD entertainment, and navigation system." New for 2009 is hands-free Bluetooth technology.

TheCarConnection.com editors note that while the 2009 GMC Envoy comes well equipped, it’s surprisingly expensive for a vehicle of its type, starting at more than $31,000 for the rear-wheel-drive SLE and ranging past $43,000 for a fully loaded Denali 4WD. That’s several thousand more than most of its chief rivals, and it makes the Denali less attractive regarding features for the money.

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Styling 7
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