in 2009 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,537 - $16,323
Original MSRP: $30,625 - $38,670
MPG: 15 City / 21 Hwy
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2009 GMC Envoy Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The GMC Envoy provides a smooth and predictable ride, though it's not as smooth as crossover SUVs. Reviewers appreciate its burly optional engine, though they say the base V6 isn't anything to write home about.

  • "On the road, the ... GMC Envoy delivers a well-cushioned ride that most shoppers will like. Unfortunately, the steering offers little in the way of road feel, and handling is sloppy around corners due to the overly soft suspension." -- Edmunds
  • "The ... GMC Envoy is a well-rounded SUV, but some observers think that the lack of independent rear suspension is a detriment." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Expect considerable wallow and wander with the SLE and SLT Envoys, not to mention body roll and lean in anything but the most relaxed cornering. The Denali's load-leveling suspension does much to combat this, but nothing to address the vagueness in the steering, the only good point of which seems to be the turning radius." -- Car Gurus

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2009 GMC Envoy SLE and SLT models pack a 4.2-liter inline six-cylinder Vortec engine that puts out 291 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. The Denali model boasts a 5.3-liter V8 Vortec engine that pumps out 302 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque. According the EPA, most Envoy models get about 14/20 mpg city/highway. However, the two-wheel drive model with the V8 engine achieves a slightly better 15/21 mpg thanks to a cylinder deactivation feature. Test drivers say the base engine isn't bad, but anyone who needs extra muscle for towing or better acceleration will want to opt for the V8.

  • +"Ultimately, the most enjoyable aspect of the Envoy is its peppy performance that comes by way of its brawny engine lineup." -- Edmunds
  • "Envoys with the 4.2-liter engine are unstressed in routine driving and do fine in highway merging and passing. Denali is strong from a stop and has fine passing power. The transmission is smooth and responsive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Adequate acceleration is supplied from the torque-rich engine, although it would be a stretch to call the six-cylinder Envoy quick." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Test drivers have mixed reviews on the Envoy's handling. Some find the base suspension a bit too soft for comfort, with lots of body lean, while others prefer the Denali model's more refined rear load-leveling suspension. Numb steering is a frequent complaint.

  • "Trucky, with a tippy feel in aggressive cornering and an annoyingly vague steering feel. Envoy has a relatively tight turning radius that eases close-quarters maneuvering. Brakes have good stopping control but spongy pedal action." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Though the Envoy exhibits some body lean in sharp turns, it does so gradually and never imparts the feeling of being top-heavy. This may be the Envoy's greatest attribute. It offers a car-like ride but still has the ground clearance and suspension settings to take it far off-road." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The steering has the right gearing for a big, high, heavy vehicle." -- MSN


The 2009 Envoy comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but any model is optional with an electronic Autotrac four-wheel drive system, which can be left engaged on dry roads but also includes low-range gearing for off-roading. The 4WD system's three modes are rear-wheel high, four-wheel high and four-wheel low. A locking rear differential is optional.