2008 Chevrolet Uplander Performance
Reviewers say that the 2008 Chevrolet Uplander's engine, added for 2007, is a welcome improvement over the earlier V6. "Uplander's main shortcoming has been a lack of performance," says New Car Test Drive, "but Chevrolet addressed this last year by offering a new, 3.9-liter V6 with 240 horsepower." The Uplander's handling gets mediocre reviews.
Acceleration and Power
The standard 3.9-liter engine is the only choice available on the Uplander and reviewers like it. "That's strong power," New Car Test Drive says of the V6's 240 horsepower, "placing it between the 244-hp Honda Odyssey and the class-leading 266-hp Toyota Sienna ... In short, the Uplander should keep up with the quickest in the class." Kelley Blue Book says, "The Chevrolet Uplander's 240-horsepower 3.9-liter V6 is a vast improvement over the previous 3.5-liter engine. It offers excellent low-end torque and passing power as well as smooth and vibration-free operation." An E85 FlexFuel version of the engine is offered, but Chevrolet says it has "limited availability." The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Uplander's engine at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 in the city (12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway for the FlexFuel version).
The automatic transmission gets a good review from New Car Test Drive: "The engine is aided by first-rate performance from the automatic transmission. GM makes some of the best automatics anywhere, and while the Uplander's has four speeds (compared to five in some competitors), it responds quickly and appropriately to the driver's commands via the gas pedal. Shift quality (smoothness) is as good as it gets."
Handling and Braking
Reviewers are polite but unenthusiastic about the Uplander's handling. "Uplander's handling...is reminiscent of old-school GM," says New Car Test Drive. "This is no doubt by design, because GM is perfectly capable of building vehicles with a more contemporary ride-handling balance. In other words, Chevy thinks Uplander buyers want a soft ride, and to get it they'll tolerate side-to-side sway in any corner taken faster than parking-lot speed." Automobile Magazine largely agrees: "There are no surprises with the Uplander dynamics ... Loose, numb steering, body roll, and cushioned ride define the handling, providing comfort on straights and numbed response through turns."
Most reviewers agree that the Uplander's suspension gives it a smooth ride. "All models absorb most bumps comfortably," says Consumer Guide. Edmunds suggests an alternative for drivers who may prefer something a bit snappier: "Chevrolet has tuned the Uplander's suspension to provide a smooth ride and a moderate level of dynamic handling ability. Upgrading to the optional load-leveling suspension (it's part of the Safe and Secure Package) does provide more responsive handling." But they add that "maneuverability in tight spaces is still compromised by the van's large 41-foot turning radius."
Both the 2008 Uplander's steering and its braking are better than in earlier GM minivans: "Steering and braking have been greatly improved over GM's last generation of minivans, on which the Uplander is based." Nonetheless, reviewers quibble over the way the steering feels. Consumer Guide feels that the Uplander has "somewhat lifeless steering at higher speeds and marked cornering lean," though they add that it has "no tippy feel." New Car Test Drive declares that the "steering has too much power assist for our taste, and it feels numb." As for the four-wheel disc brakes, Edmunds feels that "braking capability is average." New Car Test Drive likes the antilock braking, however. "Uplander's anti-lock braking system works great. The computer keeps the brakes precisely at the point of lockup without any shuddering through the pedal, and stops the vehicle as quickly as possible while leaving the driver control of the steering."
All Wheel Drive
Reviewers can't quite agree on whether they like the all-wheel drive (AWD) option or prefer the standard front-wheel drive. AWD is "a boon in slippery conditions," says Consumer Guide. Automobile Magazine says, "The all-wheel-drive version is the more delightful configuration, as it offers fully independent rear suspension with cast aluminum control arms." But Kelley Blue Book says, "The front-wheel-drive layout works well for this type of vehicle, providing good traction in rain and snow."