For 2006, the GMC Envoy comes with several new features. StabiliTrak is now standard on all models, and the 5.3-litre V8 with Displacement on Demand is now standard on both Denali models; for 2005, it was only available on the stretch-version Denali XL.

The Envoy and Envoy XL get a freshened-up exterior, and the Denali and Denali XL receive new 18-inch aluminum wheels. The OnStar and satellite radio antennae are a single unit; there are push-pull window switches; low-drag brakes are now standard on Envoy and Envoy XL models; and there are two new exterior colours, Cranberry Red Metallic and Red Jewel Tintcoat.

Conspicuous by its absence is the Envoy XUV, which featured a “midgate” and power sliding rear roof panel for carrying tall cargo; slow sales mean it’s gone from the 2006 line-up.

The rugged Envoy is a body-on-frame vehicle, sharing its platform with the Buick Rainier, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Saab 9-7X. It comes in two lengths and two models: the line-up consists of the five-seater Envoy and Envoy Denali, and the seven-passenger Envoy XL and Envoy XL Denali. Each is available in two- or four-wheel-drive.

Envoy models use a 4.2-litre inline six-cylinder, while Denali models receive the 5.3-litre V8. The V8’s Displacement on Demand shuts down half of the cylinders when they’re not needed, such as during freeway cruising, for improved fuel mileage. All engines are hooked to a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Four-wheel-drive models use an Autotrac automatic system with electronic controls and Auto 4×4, in addition to 2HI, 4HI and 4LO settings.

The base Envoy SLE includes cornering lights, fog lights, power heated mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels, variable intermittent wipers front and rear, manual dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, tilt wheel, power windows, cloth seats, CD player, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and power locks with keyless entry.

The SLT adds integrated turn signal mirrors with passenger park assist, automatic dual-zone climate control, cargo net, mat and cover, compass, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, leather interior with eight-way heated driver and passenger seats with memory, CD/cassette, and power-adjustable pedals.

The Denali package adds bright honeycomb grille, running boards, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, rain-sensing wipers, headlight washers, wood-and-leather steering wheel, premium leather seats with separate back and seat cushion heater controls, and rear automatic load-levelling air suspension.

The Envoy offers a fairly tight turning radius for a truck, and a smooth-running six that’s powerful enough, although handling isn’t as sharp as with many competitors. The V8 makes for an even better ride, especially with the long-wheelbase model, and while it isn’t exactly in compact-car fuel mileage territory, the seamless Displacement on Demand makes quite a difference whenever it’s able to turn off half the engine.

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