Hooniverse Weekend Edition: My GMC Envoy XUV; Studebaker Wagonaire Redux

Well, I received my GMC Envoy XUV about two weeks ago. So is it everything I thought it was when I first saw the Ebay listing? Two words… not exactly.

Ask you may recall, I wrote a post about my purchase of this SUV a while back including the fact that I did nothing but badmouth this particular line of GM SUV’s. However, I wanted a truck that will serve as my replacement to the UDMobile Chevy Van that I use to tow my bass boat and the LeMons proven Corvair Race Car. I could have chosen an extended cab or crew cab pickup, or a full size SUV, but I wanted something just a little different.

I decided to look for one of the following three vehicles because they seem to have lost their value rapidly in the market place, and include the first generation Avalanche (with the cladding!), an AWD Astro or GMC Safari Van, or the extended versions of the Trailblazer Clones (The Trailblazer, Envoy, or the Isuzu Ascender). The engine choices varied as well, with either a 4.8 or 5.3L V-8 for the Avalanche, the venerable 4.3L HO V-6 in the Astro and Safari, or the 4.2L Atlas Inline 6 for the Clones.

At the time I started looking for the proper replacement vehicle, this Envoy XUV popped up, from a large Texas on-line retailer, showing only 46,000 miles, for a little over $12,000. It was just about perfect with a base trim line, no leather, and only 2WD. The XUV combined the features of an SUV and Pickup, though not all that well. It was even more of a compromise than the Avalanche, with a relatively small cargo compartment, and limited access. The public ignored this vehicle when it was on sale, and was only produced for two years.

Ahhh, but we love oddball vehicles, and with the combination of low price, and low mileage, I bought it. Take a look at the images I’ve included, and you will begin to see my attraction for this oddity. The rear tailgate is a real throwback to the station wagons of old, as it can be open like a door, or drop down like a pickup truck. The window lowers into the gate as well. However, there is a second window that is also electrically operated, and is located between the rear seat, and the cargo compartment (neat!). But what makes this truck unique is the sliding roof, which opened up the cargo compartment. This idea is not new at all, and was actually introduced in the 60’s with the Studebaker Wagonaire. However, the GMC is actually weather tight, unlike the Studebaker.

The flaws are many, and are inherent in the design of these GM vehicles. The ride is just as nauseating as I remember with ride motions that would make anyone sea sick. The interior furnishings would make a Hyundai or Kia seem luxurious, with mismatched plastics, and cheap switchgear. The plastic trim on the exterior was also substandard, with the running boards, roof trim, and bumper protectors becoming discolored. But what the hell do you want for twelve grand? They will be taken care of in the future, as will the tacky chrome clad wheels.

The XUV was projected to sell at a rate of 30,000 units per year, but only 12,000 were produced, and were discontinued in March of 2005. So did I make a big mistake in buying this oddity, or do you think it will ever be coveted like the last GM Wagons (like the last Roadmaster)? Discuss and comment.

Wagionaire Image courtesy of Studebakerdriversclub.com

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  1. Rich Truesdell Avatar
    Rich Truesdell

    Jim, if you wanted something different, you got it. Funny thing is that I had a private tour of the LeMay Museum in Seattle this week and saw an almost perfectly preserved Studebaker Wagonaire and if I could figure out the code to adding images to my comments here, I'd do it.
    Good luck with your new toy.
    Rich Truesdell
    Editor, Chevy Enthusiast

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      I love seeing pictures in the comments.
      <img src="http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/heeyeons/smile.jpg&quot; width="500">

  2. tonyola Avatar

    This will have one big advantage over the Wagonaire – it won't leak, at least not for some time. The Wagonaires were so leaky that Studebaker quickly tooled up a solid-roofed version.

  3. OA5599 Avatar

    What's that slot along the right edge of the rear floor?

    1. Jim Brennan Avatar
      Jim Brennan

      That is where a couple of tie down rings are located. I would imagine that they are handy if you wanted to haul a large piece of furniture that sticks up over the roof.

  4. CptSevere Avatar

    I like it, it seems to be a unique and utilitarian vehicle. I like the idea of the straight six, probably my favorite engine configuration. Stiffer springs and shocks will probably cure the wallowy ride, and at least the cheap plastic interior is easy to wipe down and keep clean. I'll bet it serves you well.

  5. Eggwich Avatar

    Woah did someone say bass boat?
    I like the truck, but I am super jealous that you have a bass boat, too.
    What's your preferred fishing style? Live worm, texas rig? Plastic worm dragger? Spinnerbait madness? Pig-n-jig party? Flippin'?
    I do a little bit of all of the above, but mostly I seem to just talk about fishing lately. I don't even have a fishing license this year for pete's sake. Self, I am disappoint.

    1. Eggwich Avatar

      Also, I'm psyched that I just graduated to a rating of "50p" though I am kinda saddened by how psyched I am by something so meaningless.

  6. Jim7 Avatar

    I've already done the B-body wagon thing with a '91 Olds Custom Cruiser and I love the weird stuff, but I didn't know that they made such a thing. I can see one in my future.

  7. Maymar Avatar

    For all the oddballness, there's not much more to go wrong than a regular Envoy, and the depreciation's not going to cost you too much (since the previous owner took that hit), I call good buy.
    For what it's worth though, the GMT360's don't have completely heinous interiors across the board. The Trollblazer was pretty decent (although I remember the giant key feeling sort of cheap), the later ones had a few small changes (probably Maximum Bob-driven) like different shifters to class things up, and if you spent a bit of extra money (the TBSS or Envoy Denali,, I guess), most of the touch points were a little improved. I'd have no problem with using one as a tow rig, and I'd definitely buy one of the LS2-powered ones on a lark.

  8. P161911 Avatar

    My wife and I bought an '04 Trailblazer new (last time I'll do that, even when the family GM discount and rebates got about $10k knocked off sticker). It currently has about 90k miles. It is the SWB version with the 4.2L. The ONLY mechanical issue has been the fan clutch and water pump. A check engine light for fan speed error clued me into it. The fan attaches to the front of the water pump so I'm not really sure which one went out first and took the other one with it. Might want to start checking for a water pump wobble around 60-70k miles. The repair wasn't too bad. If you don't mind a few bent fins you don't even have to remove the radiator, which every set of instructions or online help said was a requirement. Also all the online stuff says you have to remove the grill to replace the headlight bulbs, you don't. Gas mileage is nothing special, but probably better than a V-8 truck. My only two real complaints about ours are design/content issues. For a sticker price of almost $35k I shouldn't have to use a stick to prop up the hood, which doesn't even have a light, when did GM do away with steering wheel locks? and why would you mount the spare tire with the inflation valve on the top?
    Overall I would get another Trailblazer/clone. I would probably look for a Saab 9-7x Aero with the LS2.
    I think you did good. I love the fact it has a built in receiver hitch.

  9. junkman Avatar

    As a (non leaking) Wagonaire owner, I've often considered buying an XUV as a modern counterpart. Despite the typical GM weaknesses Jim points out here, I'm more motivated now than ever. The key will be buying at the very second where they have fully depreciated as used cars and have yet to be discovered by collectors.

  10. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    I have three thoughts.
    First, why RWD? Connecticut gets snow, and I'd imagine that it'd be nice to have the additional practicality then. Is there a weakness in the 4WD system that I don't know about? Hell, I've been off-roading (as a passenger) with one of these – short-wheelbase, 4WD as I recall, same colour and wheels – and been less than impressed, so maybe it's not such a big deal.
    Second, unlike an Astro, you'll be able to survive a frontal-offset crash, and the handling will be passable and secure if uninspiring. It should be easier to work on the engine, too.
    Third, I've always loved the sliding roof – truly the best reason to get one of these. Recreate the old Volkswagen advert (framed on my wall) that asks whether your station wagon can carry a ten-foot Indian, an open playpen, or a baby elephant. Yes, VW, yes it can.
    It may not be the greatest vehicle in the land, but it's rear-wheel-drive, has a straight six, and possesses some neat features and plenty of utility. I'd find it hard to complain.

  11. muthalovin Avatar

    I am not envious of your Envoy. It will be very utilitarian, but IMO, this was from the Bad GM era.

  12. Bud Kraeling Avatar
    Bud Kraeling

    I was considering buying one of these and spending the extra hundreds to get the XUV version, but then I decided to throw my ficus away, instead. This vehicle is the answer to a question no one is asking. OK, you can round it off to zero. I suppose it's fun to have for a goof, but, really, what's that extra weight and higher CG really doing for ya?

  13. wlowe84 Avatar

    I purchased a 2004 XUV 4×4 a couple of months ago and love it. The ride is actually quite stiff, the 4×4 option could be the cause of this, or my being accustomed to the ride of a Town and Country with over 300,000 miles on it. I'm surprised by the price you paid though, the one I bought had close to 100,000 miles on it, perfect body and interior, towing package and cost $3,750.

  14. Dave Avatar

    I bought my XUV new in late 04. It has never been our main ride and has managed to only accrew 50,000 miles so far. I've had no problems with the mechanical aspects but electrical has been terrible. Tailgate, battery, gage panel, and misc switch lights throughout have all gone bad. That said, we love that stupid XUV. We have hauled a clawfoot tub, sheetrock, railrod ties, plywood, two couches at the sametime, and 300 lbs of topsoil. It is a little odd and electrically buggy, but it is a great vehical.