This is a GMC Envoy XUV. The roof over the load space opens like a Studebaker Wagonnaire and frankly, it’s a pretty good choice for a Bed-Stuy ride if you ask me.
Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where we highlight fascinating cars we found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
But Max, isn’t Bed-Stuy (full name: Bedford-Stuyvesant) a neighborhood in New York City? Isn’t that place really crowded? What about a Mini? What about a Smart? Shouldn’t you be suggesting something small?
I know, I know, the general convention is that a small car is what you want to be driving in crowded city streets. But give this some real thought. If you live in the city, you’re probably only using your vehicle when you absolutely need it. Going somewhere close or picking something up you can carry by hand? You’re going to take the train and save that precious alternate side parking space, which is probably big enough for something like this.
If you get something small, forget about moving a couch or taking friends with you when you’re “going upstate.” What you really need is something like this Envoy with its goofy yet innovative roof situation.
Like the Envoy XL or Chevy Trailblazer, this thing is a full-size body-on-frame SUV that seats five with a considerable load area out back. But instead of a removable third row of seats back there, this thing has something else. Behind a glass divider, the roof over the load area slides forward like a reverse sunroof while the rear glass retracts down into the tailgate like a 1970s station wagon.
The result is an open load area that can fit tall and bulky items that otherwise might be impeded by the shape and size of the tailgate and the roof. Pretty smart if you ask me, though I’m not sure how the mechanical stand up to the test of time and I’m frankly not too confident.
As for the details, the Envoy XUV was introduced at the peak of pre-crisis GM (we featured it on a list of ten cars that did the automaker in) in 2004 and only made it through early 2005 at the Oklahoma City plant where it was built. It wasn’t loved new, but I think the concept is more interesting now as cars get more and more similar to one another in configuration.
This particular one has clearly seen some shit. I’m guessing that a front-end collision forced its owner to graft a great deal of a black XUV onto the front of their ride. That’s a lot of effort to save a vehicle that was not loved new and did not sell well, but maybe I’m right. Maybe it’s the right car for an outer-boroughs lifestyle and nothing else will do. Except maybe a Renault Kangoo Be Bop?