Economy test: 2009 GMC Envoy in the UAE

Economy test: 2009 GMC Envoy in the UAE

Oil prices are soaring and so is the greed of the local oil companies due to which fuel costs are rising. The massive impact from the recession has hit hard on the brains of the crowd; in fact so hard that their vision of the future is now so short term. As a result, this has led to many people playing “safe” by not falling prey to huge debts and its aftermath. They make more sensible choices and judge their financial stands way better. The recent increase in the number of econo-sedans and crossover jokes is a proof to this. It is rather a sad sacrifice which some individuals are forced to make as no car or CUV can ever be as fun, as commanding and as capable as a proper SUV. By proper SUV, I definitely do not mean the feeble 4-cylinder Prados or poseur RAV-4s – what I am talking here is about those machines which give you real “go anywhere” capability, like the GMC Envoy. Aside from numerous Toyota leaners and crude Nissan beasts, GMC is one nameplate that has managed to gain quite some popularity in the Middle Eastern market as their vehicles are renowned for their comfort, powerful engines and of course, the optional Denali luxury and bling. However, they are also known to be some serious gas-guzzlers as well.

The Envoy, which was discontinued in 2009 along with the Chevrolet Trailblazer and sadly replaced by the crossover Acadia, is a proper part-time 4wd with low range gearing and body on frame construction. It is powered by a straight-6 4.2-litre Vortec engine which is rated at 291 hp and 373 Nm of torque and mated to a basic 4-speed automatic transmission. Since the Envoy was already reviewed before, this here will be a fuel economy test. While fuel economy is gaining rapid popularity in this region due to fuel becoming costlier than water these days, I decided to put this 2009 GMC Envoy SLT, which I got for a day, through a quick fuel economy test, along with some insight into off-roading.

Awed by the Envoy’s smoothness, comfort and engine power, and not having enough of some rear wheel drive fun, putting it through an economy test was sort of a challenge for me. I don’t think I have driven my Mondeo so carefully as to achieve some good fuel economy numbers. As known by many, economy driving involves careful and sensible use of the accelerator and avoidance of abrupt braking manoeuvres. For the best numbers, one ideally needs to avoid congested roads and seek jam-free highways. But for a change, I chose to negotiate some mild-to-moderate traffic which in turn shall give more real-life numbers.

The routes that I chose for my test included the famous Ittihad road (also known as Dubai-Sharjah highway) renowned for traffic congestion at peak hours, Dubai Bypass road and Sharjah-Kalba motorway (Maleha road). My highway speeds were a steady 110 kph with the tacho resting at 2000 rpm. During accelerations and in all occasions I made sure that the tacho needle never crossed 2500 rpm, thanks to that 4.2-litre Vortec motor with above-average low-end power. All sounds good. So could I break the ‘gas guzzler’ myth that shrouds GMC? After driving well over 150 kilometers, the trip computer registered the rate of fuel burn at 12 litres/100 km. And the reading had dropped down to 11.6 litre/100 km which was, astonishingly enough, while negotiating the usual morning rush on Dubai-Sharjah highway towards Dubai, moving at no more than 30 kph, not to mention the occasional stops. I had always thought highway driving results in better fuel economy! The presence of an additional gear would have definitely made those figures even better.

On the off-roading front, the vehicle was very capable. The only barriers that hinder its capabilities are the low and thick side-steps and a plastic lip attached to the lower part of the front bumper, which affects the vehicle’s approach angle. The plastic part can be removed though. There were no skid plates either. Traction control had to be turned off manually and stability control seemed to remain active all throughout, evident from the occasional screen warnings that said “Stabilitrak Active” and some weird sounds coming from outside due to the vehicle applying brakes to individual wheels as needed whenever the vehicle swayed; I could not find a way to turn off the stability control. The Envoy comes factory-fitted with street tyres and you probably won’t miss those offroad rubbers, thanks to the raw Vortec power.

I had initially driven into loose sand and even negotiated some moderate dunes without deflating the tyres at all since I was too lazy to do it; but not until I decided to stop on a slight downslope with relatively harder sand, which is when the epitome of heaviness just gave up and sank in. Considering Envoy’s low slung body and unprotected underbelly I did not want to deflate the tyres to as low as 18 psi which is what I generally use for sand bashing, hence deciding to reduce the tyre pressure to just 24 psi. However, that was all enough for the Vortec beast to pull the Envoy out of trouble and blast off to glory. There is ample power in the lower and mid-rev range, making stuff like shooting up dunes and sailing over the sands a breeze. A 1-inch lift is all what it takes for the Envoy to kill its Japanese competition downright in the off-roading department. That said, such a lift would also see the on-road handling levels go from mediocre to disaster! Nevertheless, in its current setup, the Envoy is surprisingly capable and can keep up with Prados and Pathfinders in most scenarios.

It is sad to see such a capable off-roader being replaced by a humungous soft-roader which may look good, but is not nearly as capable. However, changes are inevitable and hardly do any of the Envoy owners take their vehicles to explore the wild. The soft-roaders being much more popular and off-roading not being a concern at all for many, several icons have been forced to bid goodbye to their capabilities and concentrate more on family hauling, comfort and safety. If driven sensibly enough, the truck will not disappoint you with mileage too. Those who really want the Envoy should check out the used car market for a sparingly-used accident-free example and you may be lucky to find some great deals.

What do you think?



  1. finally ..Thanks for the test. I always wanted to see a economy test on this platform.The best I have achieved is 7 KMPL on my 2007 trailblazer. I believe if driven carefuly the dxb-AUH trip can be done twice on this car only cos of its tank capacity.If anybody is looking to buying one, look for the 2009 LTZ version which was sold on a fantastic offer throughout 2010.It had every possible option.Inspite of the GMC Envoy denali having the V8 i doubt there would be much of a difference with regards to power but I really suspect that it may be more fuel efficent…

    Vivek how was the wind noise on the highways?

  2. I think envoys have a lot of reliability issues.
    Visit any garage in Sharjah industrial area and you will find them filled with envoys and trailblazers.
    Nice number btw

    • n thts exactly y they keep havin issues!!

    • I also saw a huge number of crashed Trailblazers and Grand Cherokees on my visits to these ghetto garages. About 99% of those are cancelled US-spec cars being fixed up for sale here.

  3. Isn’t it like one hell of a boring car to look at…

  4. this test is not useful… coz no one is going to buy discontinued cars

    • discontinued doesn’t mean that the one who buys it is doomed forever..even if the product is discontinued, parts shall continue to be available for a good 6 to 7 years!..and if there are people who buy variants, models and even brands that do not exist in UAE, then I dont think even the recently discontinued GCC vehicles will have problems selling either, provided the deals are reasonable.

    • You seriously believe what you’re saying?

    • Vivek …if the car is discontinued resale values are depreciating more & more for used cars than other cars. and to try to sell discontinued car is not easy, this is FACT.more over it is GM which already have low reliability rating
      I want to ask u if u can review suzuki grand vitara

      @ROJ im not getting your question!

  5. Petrol stations with zero amount petrol is worse thing that could happen…… Recently I was almost screwed but reached another petrol station luckily with just few KMs petrol left………

  6. Info on offroad capabilties is interesting. On road, It’s silky smooth. The Pathfinder is very responsive 4wd, but fuel consumption is horrible, do whatever (floor the throttle, or walk with it), it lingers around 14.3 to 14.5 liter / 100km.

  7. actually royer when going to oman, al ain i manage 12 – 13.1l/100k cruising at around 130-140km/h.

    on another note i too almost got screwed with the petrol situation..Oh and Mash may be worth some news, theres apparently no petrol in SHJ especially enoc/eppco. I had to find out the hard way, i didnt get stuck but was cutting it a little too close.

    • i second that..there is this adnoc station somewhere near old expo area in sharjah which is the only pump whch has fuel…all eppco and emarat stations in the area have run dry!

    • Hi Spyke, I too got a an excellent average while cruising with family (my parents were here for 3 months) to Al Ain , then Fujairah. But then it doesn’t count for me. I wanted to see some improvement in fuel consumption with sane driving attitude in daily driving scenarios. No problems filling the fuel, i am quite happy with performance, but still i would expect this type of consumption in an Armada v8.

    • Also its more than 3 years now, still lot of punch left in brakes.

  8. ohh and royer, i think you get better mileage than i do, both the x and the pathy average 16L/100k lol. i only managed to get 12-13 on long your much better than i am. Mostly cos we do mainly city driving, like 80-90% of the time.

  9. Most cases I cannot think too much about economy figures… The way i look at it: Im driving a 2.0 engine… So i pay less fuel than those with more displacement…

    • Hmm that’s a good point. My Focus does around 550 to 595 for a full tank, so it does save money as compared to Pathfinder, i gleefully savethat money in piggy bank, because sooner or later something goes wrong and i spend quadraple amount in repairs, whereas the Pathfinder moves on… should have bought a used Yaris or Tiida hatchback.

  10. Guys you should consider this. If I drive a bit fast in my Yaris it will not do AUH-DXB twice because I find out the following: a-Small engine will drink more fuel at high speeds because you are getting the maximum of it, b-The Yaris tank is very small 42L only which means that you can do the journy twice only in case you drove below 120km/h. thanks

  11. if i am sure that the new jetta will be as 50% reliable and can serve me for 4 years strightaway without major maintance issues for my 75K km annually i would go for it…what do you advice Mash about that?

  12. Hi All,
    I am using GMC Envoy for the last 1 year and I am getting very good fuel average since I use Dubai Bypass road daily to reach office. If the speed is in the 100-120 kmph range and uses Cruiz, then we will get excellent results and the smooth drive with less noise has a magical attraction to drive it more.. But the noise will increase after 130 kmph even with slight wind. Overall the monster engine will deliver beyond your imagination.

  13. Can u please review Suzuki Grand Vitara?

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