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It’s a variation off GMC’s Envoy XL, as in Extra Large, a four-door wagon for the mid-size class with wheelbase stretched 13 inches longer than the regular version and 16 inches added to the overall length plus the roof hiking several inches higher.
At first glance, this one seems quite conventional. But a closer look reveals something unusual happening at the wagon’s boxy tail.
In the version rolling at Milford, a tree seems to sprout through the roof.
The tree — placed aboard the vehicle to demonstrate a capacity for hauling tall goods such as a garden sapling or perhaps even a refrigerator — actually extends above the rear section of the roof, as the roof panel is missing to create an open and airy cargo compartment.
The cargo bay, measuring 32 inches square, functions like a miniature truck bed for toting too-tall gear and it can be completely isolated from the water-tight cabin. Where’s the missing roof section?
It folds away like a sunroof panel via power controls.
Thus the new wagon — dubbed the Envoy XUV — becomes the first sport-utility equipped with a power sliding roof.
Tap a button on the console and the trailing edge of the roof slides back to reveal the open-air cargo bay. Or keep the roof closed and the cargo bay remains a part of the passenger compartment like any other SUV.
Actually, you can work the bay several different ways — partly open, completely closed or all exposed.
Versatility comes from the power sliding roof in conjunction with two partitions — a middle gate set behind the passenger area and a tailgate at the rear of the wagon.
This mid-ship gate — dubbed by GM as a Midgate — has a window in the upper section and a composite lower panel.
The window glass can be raised or lowered with push-button power and the entire panel can be folded flat after the back seat folds and tumbles forward.
With the Midgate down, there’s a flat cargo bay extending for 76 inches to the tailgate for an expanded cargo volume of 95 cubic feet.
With Midgate raised and window up, the cabin is sealed off from the rear cargo compartment. You get a conventional cabin with two bucket seats up front and a three-person bench in back, followed by the Midgate sealer and a rear bay that’s either open or enclosed.
At the rear of the vehicle a second gate with power window folds down to floor level or swings to the right side for bumper access to the cargo area.
And don’t worry about making a mess in the back bay — the wash-and-wear tail section comes with weather-resistant materials plus a drain system so it can be hosed out for cleaning.
Inside, there are four tie-down rings that can be moved around plus four more fixed rings on the roof so you can lock down any load of gear. There’s even the option for a custom-made tent that wraps around the rear with tailgate dropped and an air mattress inflated across the cargo floor.
So you end up with a conventional wagon’s bay or a wagon with a miniature truck bed in back, or a vehicle that’s part wagon and part truck — all through push-button conversion of the roof panel and two gate windows.
Powertrains for Envoy the XUV compare to Envoy XL.
Standard is the Vortec 4200 in-line-six developed by GM to generate the high horsepower of a V8 engine but the fuel efficiency of a V6.