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by Annabelle Frankl

A typo, perhaps? Surely they meant to call it Enjoy! The 2002 Envoy is a big SUV that performs solidly, is extremely comfortable, contains an ingenious driver computer and still comes in at a price below most of its competitors. And it just got voted to SUV 2002 by Motor Trend.

Powered by a gutsy 4.2 liter SFI inline 6, there is no fear that this mid-size SUV is all show and no go. Indeed, the Envoy packs a serious punch, but manages to deliver its 270 horsepower and 275 lbs-ft of torque both smoothly and quietly. For this is, at heart, a truck, given its full length steel truck frame, and one that will no doubt revel in more strenuous activities than doing the school run. That said, given its urban marketplace, it compares extremely favourably to its competition. With more horsepower than most of its competitors' V8s, a standard tow rating of 5,400 lbs (which puts it far ahead of the field), plus features such as front side airbags as standard, the Envoy is a front runner in value for money.

The 4-speed automatic with overdrive performs well, as do the vented 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The Envoy actually offers a very 'light' drive and does not produce the kinetic energy feeling (i.e., that you'll never stop this tank!) of some of the bigger SUVs. The rack and pinion steering is light and the driving position extremely comfortable. The driver's seat feels like you're in a cockpit, given the amount of variables available that can be set to your liking. The driver computer, once you've figured it out, is great. From standard offerings such as Driver 1 and 2 memory positions, one can also choose whether horn and lights function upon locking/unlocking, seat offers easy access or remains in position, both or one or no mirrors dip upon reversing, seat adjusts upon unlock, key in, engine on. You name it, you can progamme it, to you heart's content. A personalized SUV for your delight! All features are adjustable from the steering wheel, which also features audio and A/C controls. All it needs is email and you need never go home!

Interior comfort is good, as is design, for the most part. I could do without the multi-tone leather and surfaces and definitely without the fake-wood/plastic trim. The Envoy offers more room for both passengers and cargo than most others in its class, accommodating 5 easily across the back seat, and hiding away luggage under a pull-over cover. Exterior styling is bold and classy.

Concern for safety is evident in the front and side driver and passenger airbags as standard, ABS, day running lights, plus mirrors with turning signals, 3-point safety belts for all rear passengers and the OnStar system fitted as standard. The Envoy is practical for families because despite plenty of space and height, the back seat proves accessible for lifting in kids and baby seats, without the need for a step ladder!

A definite front runner in the SUV race, the Envoy proves itself to be a worthy addition to the mid-size SUV market, and given its lower price, bigger space, engine and towing capacity than many of its competitors, look for it to become an increasingly popular sight in 2002. Enjoy!

For additional information about the GMC Envoy SLT 2WD: