In 1998, the GMC Envoy was introduced as a luxury version of the mid-sized sport utility Jimmy. Standard equipped with four-wheel drive the 1998 GMC Envoy was powered by a 4.3-liter Vortec V-6 engine connected to a four-speed automatic transmission. Lavishly equipped, the 1998 Envoy included four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system, 15-inch alloy wheels, leather seating and a six-speaker stereo system as standard equipment. A complete change to the positioning of the Envoy occurred in 2002.
GMC’s all-new mid-sized sport utility vehicle dropped the Jimmy name in the United States resulting in the broad promotion of the Envoy name. Based on a new platform with the choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive variants, the 2002 GMC Envoy line-up was powered by a 4.2-liter Vortec V-6 featuring variable valve timing. Initially generating 270 horsepower, later model years resulted in 285 horsepower being coaxed from the six-cylinder engine.
Eight-cylinder power debuted with the conventional wheelbase Envoy for 2005 as a high-end Denali version was added. A 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 engine using Displacement on Demand technology was standard with the 2005 GMC Envoy Denali. Other features on the Envoy Denali included rain-sensing windshield wipers and a wood grain and leather interior.
Enhancements to safety on the GMC Envoy resulted with the addition of standard Stabilitrak electronic stability control and OnStar in 2006. For 2008, side curtain airbags were added to all models. Reflecting a changing trend in the North American automobile market, the truck-based Envoy faded after the 2009 model year as the GMC Acadia crossover filled the product void.