The GMC Envoy was once a dressed up version of the popular GMC Jimmy. The GMC Envoy took over as the sole midsize offering in the GMC line-up in 2002 when the Jimmy was dropped from the line due to poor performance. The Envoy also received a massive exterior redesign, the effects of which carry over into the 2003 model year.
Although the Envoy went through some changes in 2002, that doesn’t mean GMC is done fiddling. This year sees a jump in horsepower from the powerful Vortec engine, new headlamps, a bigger gas tank, and a-la-carte optional features so that you can customize your vehicle.
Although the GMC Envoy has a lot to offer, it still lags behind the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer in terms of ride balance to luxury features.
Body Styles: midsize SUV
Engines: 4.2-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: GMC Envoy SLE, GMC Envoy SLT
The 2003 GMC Envoy now offers optional equipment as stand-alone features. You do not have to order a package to get what you want from the vehicle. The 4.2-liter Vortec inline six-cylinder engine receives a boost in horsepower from 270 to 275. The GMC Envoy now offers a four-position headlamp as well that allows the driver a variety of different light intensities for day and night driving. The GMC Envoy also receives a larger fuel tank that holds 22 gallons–you’ll need it with the gas mileage this monster gets. Side airbags that once came standard are now optional on the GMC Envoy.
The GMC Envoy is a four-door midsize SUV. It is available in the SLE and SLT trim lines. The Envoy has a very distinctly shaped shield-style grille. The body has a trapezoidal shaped, but the rest looks like its GM compatriots. The Envoy runs on a 113-inch wheels base and measures 191.6-inches overall. An extended wheelbase Envoy XL is also available that measures 129-inches across the wheelbase, and 207.6-inches overall.
The interior of the GMC Envoy has plenty of room available for five-passengers to sit comfortably. The vehicle has reclining bucket seats for the driver and passenger, and a split bench folding seats that holds three passengers. The Envoy XL has room for a third-row bench that fits two passengers, folding as well to extend cargo space. The XL has a cargo area of 100.2 cubic feet. The regular length Envoy comes in slightly under at 80.1 cubic feet. A rear cargo shelf comes in the XL models that have adjustable height levels.
The console and instrument panel are very attractive, boasting nickel accents and brushed aluminum. The SLT class also has wood trim accents. Although these materials are an improvement from the previous year, there is still a lot of cheap interior plastic that severely dampens the luxurious feel of the cabin. Standard features on the SLE model include a theft-deterrent system, GM’s OnStar communication system, and heated mirrors. The SLT includes leather upholstery, memory settings for the driver’s seat, headlight washers, and light-sensitive mirrors.
Performance & Handling
The GMC Envoy comes equipped with a 4.2-liter inline-six cylinder engine that produces 275 horsepower. It is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Also available is a 5.3-liter V-8 on the Envoy XL model. This engine allows the GMC Envoy to tow 7,200 pounds. Both models are available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive.
The GMC Envoy has a lot of engine strength and power. Even the in-line six-cylinder performs well; in fact, it performs better than most V-8 engines in its class. The ride is very cushioned due to the suspension system. In fact, the suspension is so cushiony the vehicle tends to swing back and forth in corners. There is a load leveling air spring suspension available for the rear to help with heavy loads.
The GMC Envoy comes equipped with dual-stage front airbags, and front-side airbags standard, as well as four-wheel disc brakes and anti-lock brakes. All five seats in the Envoy have a three-point seatbelt. The NHTSA gave the GMC Envoy five out of five stars for driver and passenger safety during side impacts. The IIHS gave the Envoy a “Marginal? score for frontal-offset impacts, its second worst score.
EPA Fuel Economy
2003 GMC Envoy SLE: 14/20 mpg city/highway
2003 GMC Envoy SLT: 14/20 mpg city/highway
- Lots of options
- Six-cylinder engine is powerful
You Won't Like
- Steering unresponsive
- Lots of plastic interior pieces
- Lots of body roll in curves
The 2003 GMC Envoy is a strong showing, but it lags behind much of the competition.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet TrailBlazer
- Ford Explorer
- Isuzu Ascender