By on May 29, 2015


The Envoy XUV is one of those unicorns I seem to recognize on the street immediately. As the owner of a Taurus X, I sometimes wonder how my arduous life would change had Ford went ahead with it’s transformer counterpoint to this sub-niche of vehicle. Then I realize, “Probably, I would be scrounging for more weird, rare electric roof trim garnish power regulators at the junkyard.” “Probably not much.”

I imagine the boys in Ford’s marketing department took one look at their competitor’s commercial, mouth agape, and finally decided they just couldn’t compete with such formidable before-it-was-cool ’80s promotional panache. One of them, no doubt, pointed out, “They’ve even got the sort-of a song that I kind of know!”

The thing that struck me about this example, found in a Joliet yard, was it’s fantastic condition (other than vultures lightly pecking at the fresh carcass). I mean, you just don’t see many ten year old models at all, unless they’re irreparably smashed, or irreparably a Sebring.


Quarter million miles be damned, times must not be too bad in America anymore.


The 5.3 under the hood is still in one piece, so chances are good the your camshaft is trashed, too sort of dialogue wasn’t a factor in it’s demise.


It’s unicorn horn removable mid-gate was still waiting for a patron to have the “This isn’t a tailgate. It’s a trim panel,” argument at the checkout counter.


Then, evidence of the previous owner’s medical afflictions helped fill in the blanks. Nothing will send a Mitsubishi to the junkyard faster than a piece of paper that looks like this, it seems. The name on this one, is “high profile” around these parts, and if you can somehow figure out what I have omitted, please don’t. This is a fictional piece, and I would like to keep it that way.


The McGill empire was going through a transitional period.

“I’m just saying…don’t be surprised when I graduate, that there’s nothing for me,” Reece told his father.

The old man broiled in the passenger seat. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Your ancestors, who lived out their lives in indentured servitude, would punch you right in the mouth if they heard you say that,” said an irate Patrick.

The young Reece withdrew to the driver’s door of the Envoy. He should have known. At any moment, the old man would additionally remind him about working for the family business, most likely reminding him about how he started it all with a single questionable 1970 Autocar. “…and you can always work for me,” added Patrick, pulling out his Medtronic Access Review DBS controller. Ever vigilant after going through some issues with his implant’s battery, he checked it’s condition. Holding the remote to his chest, it beeped, and verified a good state of charge. Such an action repeated itself several times throughout the day, mostly done out of habit, and boredom.

As the Envoy cruised high above the Des Plaines River with a smoothness rivaling a maglev train, Reece observed the filthy snow that was still piled up along the sides of the tollway well into March. The frigid sight induced an application of Carmex. A crosswind came out of the west, causing the wind whistle from the aft-most window to intensify. Reece compensated by turning up the volume on his My Gold Mask CD, which was hopelessly jammed in the radio. This track was one of his favorites. He hadn’t listened to it in over a year, since leaving for FAU. However, when Dad said, “Give it a rest,” and turned on XM MSNBC, he didn’t protest.

Reece slowed the XUV on the off ramp for Route 7 where the brakes cried out their hunger for more pads. Reece and McGill senior did what they normally did, which was simply glance in the general direction of the anomaly.

As they waited for the light the boy inquired, “So how is the new…calibration?” regarding his father’s follow up procedure.

“It’s a little better. There’s still some little tremors…but I don’t think anything will change that now,” said the man, lifting his hands to show a faint car-waxing motion with his right extremity.

Reece faced forward, realizing the light had turned green. The S…UV arched across the intersection, and then summoned their attention with a “Boong Boong Boong”. Reece looked down at the information center, and turned to his father almost with glee. “Reduced engine power!”

Reece buried his foot in the gas and turned his hazards on in preparation for what would assuredly be a lazy journey back to McGill Trucking. The men were experienced in these matters from when the throttle body failed five years prior.

“Goddamit,” said Patrick, “Try to turn it back off…or on…fuck.” He was referring to ‘the trick’ they had learned from Sometimes that would make the problem go away for a short time. Reece tried this technique in a church parking lot, but the power remained elusive.

“Come on stupid!” Reece shouted at his rear view mirror. A Cavalier honked behind them, it’s driver dumbstruck by the meaning of a pair of flashing tail lamps and a pointby. The Cavalier finally made the pass, it’s exhaust sounding like compressed air being released while the man at the wheel delivered a Luigi death stare at the hapless GMC.

“I told you that you needed to get rid of this piece. What’s gonna happen when I’m not around to drive you? They’re gonna find you in a snowbank somewhere after you get stranded,” Reece told his father.

Patrick didn’t respond. He pulled the Blackberry from his pocket and dialed his wife. “We’re having some car trouble right now. Yeah. It’s just driving slow again. We’re gonna be late to the meeting. Just see if those guys can wait a bit longer.”

Reese felt a shock. Oh shit, he thought, how did he know about the meeting? He braced himself against the wheel in anticipation of the shitstorm.

“What do you mean it’s already over?!” Patrick yelled. “Look. I’m still a part of this damn company!” Reese could hear his mother on the other end trying to break things to his father gently. His grandiose plans of acquiring another dead trucking firm, when they were struggling to hire and pay more drivers, just wasn’t going to work. A rift was growing between the elder McGill, his wife, and his best friend.

Reece tuned out and listened to the click-clock of the hazards as his father yelled into the phone. I don’t want any of this crap, he thought to himself. Working with family is the worst. A career of surfing, golfing, and traveling Europe would suit him just fine. And when the facility to do that ran out? Whatever.

Finally, the screaming stopped.

“I’m just going to head home,” said Reece.

Patrick washed down a pill with some bottled water. The meds kicked in. His anger was gone. He now felt dejected, betrayed, robbed of the world he created.

“You should just take me to the casino,” Reece replied, laughing. “I’m not taking you to Joliet! Especially, not in this thing.” He hit the overhead Homelink button and the double wrought iron gates swung open.

The old man punctuated the end of their journey with a depressing statement of fact. “I told you this would be the last car I ever own.”

Reece could only respond with “Come on, Dad,” while his father waddled into the large manor house with an abbreviated gait.

Reece stayed out on the drive and began to vape. As French Vanilla filled his lungs, he observed the flurry-laden dark clouds rolling in to put an end to an already shortened day.

“This is bullshit,” he said. This meaning not-Florida during spring break. He puffed and looked at the Envoy, juxtaposed to the fancy stonework and brick paver driveway. Sure, back in the day, the $40,000 fully-loaded GMC was impressive. Reeve even showed off the clever engineering of the magic gate and retractable roof to his buddies. That was back before the “Clear Roof Obstruction” notices, failed glass regulators, smoked switches, a transmission, bad HVAC components, a weary fan clutch, some dead lifters, and lots of puzzled technician labor hours turned it into an Envoy of Theseus. For the amount spent, Reece estimated there could have been a ‘sweet-ass G Wagen’ sitting there.

“Hrmfff,”, he exhaled.

When Reece came into the house, his father greeted him with the signed pink slip to the Envoy.

“Here. It’s yours. Do whatever you want with it.” The last part of that statement was said in a way to allude “Get it fixed, and use it.” Reece clumsily replied, “What? I…come on…” The old man then disappeared into his study.

The Envoy’s shifter was put into neutral to coast down the hill at a higher rate of non-PCM-regulated speed as it entered “the prison city”. Reece silenced the hazard relay for the final time. He summoned the man from the office that he had spoken to on the phone earlier, who popped off his chair with an excited “Let’s take a look.”

“Hey, this doesn’t look too bad. I might just sell this.”, said the man.

“I would strongly recommend that you don’t,” said Reece.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

41 Comments on “Last Rides Premium Selects: All XUsed Up...”

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Brilliant as always sir. Thanks for a great Friday read.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    What’s with the intrusive ads on the site? Now I’m repeatedly pinged for my location information. I try to scroll the page and the ads keep taking me back to another part of the page. Annoying.

  • avatar

    Ahh the XUV. I have a buddy who collects oddball vehicles who has one of these in his collection. I borrowed it once, I can’t say much about it other than it’s a typical Envoy that you can stand a fridge up in. The same guy has an SSR and Silverado quadrasteer, along with some other actually awesome vehicles.

  • avatar

    The elude/allude homophone collects a second victim in as many days!

    I’m ecstatic over this post, though. I can’t wait for more! Also, GM interior designs are garbage.

  • avatar

    the vaping–nice touch.

    • 0 avatar

      Some might notice that I’ve stepped up the frequency of “He/She began to vape” as the subculture displaces the junkyard ashtray jammed with cigarette butts. Also, Murilee’s Denver finds seem to be in the vaping capitol of the world.

  • avatar

    Clever reference to the Theseus’ paradox.

  • avatar

    LS – FTW baby
    anybody know when they started with the aluminum block version?

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Without checking for a definitive start date, I’ll just assume it began with the cathedral-port LS7 version of the GenIII/LS1 engine. I have no idea when aluminum versions of the GenIV began showing up, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they were developed simultaneously.

  • avatar

    I always thought of the GMT360s as a motor (namely the Atlas 6) looking for a car. Whenever I see these, the rear sway bar links are always just dangling in the breeze, having rusted apart. The owner blissfully unaware, or better yet happy that “that annoying clanking is gone!” nasty interiors, Saab tried as hard as they could and even they failed at making it acceptably decent or ergonomic.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I always thought GM was going to use the Atlas 4, 5 and 6 in a RWD sport sedan/coupe, Catera replacement or subsequent CTS, STS sedans. Instead it was only used in GMT360/370’s and pickups.

  • avatar

    I’m curious, why nothing on the elder McGill’s thoughts in reaction to the situation and his overall mortality? I get the sense that he becomes a broken man which is finally concluded with signing pink slip, but it seemed his broken truck was a metaphor for himself.

    • 0 avatar

      Because the story and similar transition from reality to someone else’s disrespectful memory are better told in the voice of the most relevant failed, once promising dream?

  • avatar

    The Envoy XUV was always an oddity in my mind. Typical GM of the era where the styling was about half-good. I’m not surprised it’s in the yard at all tho, I rented a Trailblazer in Seattle back in 2006. It was a total piece of junk that I hated. A few hours after renting was starting to miss my then main car an 03 Pilot. Not surprised GM got a death watch on these threads, they never got anything right and are still cleaning up the mess. I haven’t seen many GMT360 in the Bay Area though I do know of some nutcase who owns an XUV but in black

  • avatar

    Junking a running vehicle that your dying father gave you for free is pretty cold.

  • avatar

    I remember from Bob Lutz’s “Car Guys vs. Beancounters” book that the XUV was the result of a crazy GM corporate policy (or something to that effect) that forced it’s designers and engineers to come up with something “unique” every so often, even though they all knew it would likely be a flop in the real world. What a waste of time and money….typical GM though.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think its an awful policy because it drives innovation, what might be awful is going to production with it without testing in focus groups. Now if it was unique *and* profitable despite focus groups I say its a winning policy.

    • 0 avatar

      Chrysler had something similar. It resulted in Sto-and-Go and that center table, among other things.

    • 0 avatar

      That would explain the Aztek, the Malibu Maxx, the Fiero, the Corvair, the ’53 ‘Vette, the dustbuster minivans, and probably a lot more if think about it long enough.

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    I thought the idea behind this vehicle was an original to GM…then I visited the Studebaker museum in South Bend, IN. They pioneered the same type of system in the 1950’s, I believe.

    Shoulda knowed GM couldn’t come up with an original innovation….

  • avatar

    The third vehicle I ever purchased as a dealer back in early 2009 was a 2004 Envoy XUV SLT. 110k miles, dark gray metallic, loaded with everything. I had it as my demo for an entire month. Got 17MPG if I was lucky, but damnit if I wasn’t a m-f’in’ BOSS rolling around in it. Chrome 6-spokes a-flashin’, windows down – all seven of them – and the roof open for absolutely no reason.

    My fun came to an end when I went through an automatic car wash and it snapped the rear wiper blade off. Apparantly, the park position of the wiper is like some sort of limit switch for the entire conflagration – if the wiper isn’t properly at park, nothing will function.

    We got it fixed eventually and sold it to someone who drove down from South Carolina to buy it. The second XUV I sold was 4 years later and it was to a hardcore Tour-de-France level cyclist.

  • avatar

    “…how my arduous life would change had Ford went ahead with it’s transformer counterpoint to…”

    I’m not expecting literary quality here, but an editor to uhhh edit and correct postings before they’re released would be nice.

    • 0 avatar

      What is your beef with this text? “would have changed” as opposed to “would change?

      • 0 avatar

        Should be “its,” not “it’s.”

      • 0 avatar

        “…how my arduous life would change had Ford gone ahead with its transformer counterpoint to…”

        or (it’s hard to make out what the writer intended)

        “…how my arduous life would have changed had Ford gone ahead with its transformer counterpoint to…”

        • 0 avatar

          I’m sorry but I have to agree with kkop and Sigivald… this article reads a little weird in places.

          Luckily, I didn’t pay much for it.

        • 0 avatar

          I wrote it in the hypothetical of traveling back to 2003 in my Delorean time vehicle, pointing my iPad at a sleepy Ford exec, and telling him that if he didn’t put the proto Freestyle trucklet into production that I would melt his brain. Therefore, it skews the present day timeline into this adjacent timeline where my life WOULD chan-come on guys.

  • avatar

    Speaking of textual nitpicks…

    “Rate of speed” makes my teeth grate.

    Rate of travel, fine. Speed, fine.

    Speed is already a rate – distance over time.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “The 5.3 under the hood is still in one piece, so chances are good the your camshaft is trashed, too sort of dialogue wasn’t a factor in it’s demise.”

    I wonder about the tales you must have about high mileage failures on cars from any brand.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe there was nothing wrong with this vehicle, just that it was donated to a charity and high mileage vehicles don’t bring much at a auction. Most of the vehicles donated to charities are bid on by salvage yard buyers. A high mileage vehicle such as this with 233k miles is not going to be worth much regardless of condition but the parts and the scrap steel are worth something. I have bought parts for years at salvage yards and many of the vehicles at the various yards I have visited are still running but are worth more in parts than they could be sold for whole. There is not as much demand for V-8 engines as there was so it is likely that there is nothing wrong with the engine in this Envoy.

    • 0 avatar

      I was told that it wouldn’t go over 25mph, so either the trans went out, or my theory on the easily remedied throttle body issue is most likely. As for the V8, it appears somebody is going to find out.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If it were the transmission then it would not be worth fixing with 233k miles.

    • 0 avatar

      Not necessarily. If this is an MY04 its the LM4 5.3 and MY05 and later got the LH6 5.3, both used the 4spd 4L60-E auto tranmission which is used in what looks like nearly every RWD GM model from MY91-MY09. Finding a better one in a yard and installing it would be worth doing assuming that’s the only major thing wrong with the truck.

      I found a 4L60-E with 69K in a local yard twenty miles away for $550 on

      RWD,4.2S,AT 69,000 A E0936 $550 Pitt-Mon Auto, Inc. USA-PA(Monongahela) Request_Quote 1-800-245-1203 Request_Insurance_Quote

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    It is most likely if this were a pickup truck someone would have fixed it. Most SUVs are less likely to be fixed after they get older and require major repairs. If you remember an article a couple of months ago about SUVs like Suburbans, Tahoes, and Expeditions being junked that were not that old. I doubt there is a large market for used Trailblazers, Envoys, and the Isuzu and Saab equivalents. I have seen a number of these on the pay day used car lots.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have seen many newer Suburbans,Yukons,and Tahoes but there are not many older ones on the road. Mechanically these vehicles are the same as the full sized trucks and will last a long time but when they get a few years on them there is not a lot of demand. The Envoy in this article could have easily been fixed with a replacement transmission if that was what was wrong with it and it would have run for many more miles, but few want these and that is why they end up on the pay day lots and then in the salvage yard. Anyone that needed a good used vehicle with capacity to tow but didn’t need an open bed could get one of these for a very good price. The overall mechanics on the GM and Ford suvs are sound and will last a long time but they are about like the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis in that few want them.

    At 233k miles someone got their money’s worth, but it still had some life left in it.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: “Another thing is that I sneak up on deer all the time on my mountain bike.” No….you...
  • EBFlex: ORV is just off road vehicle. A more broad term than ATV or UTV. And again, those are not analogous. Those...
  • Kenn: When I walked by the open door of the GM’s office at a SoCal Toyota dealer, the day I took delivery of my...
  • slavuta: Before traveling to space he could take care of public transport. You should like this...
  • ToolGuy: I spend that $169/year on washer fluid and oil filters instead.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber