All-new in 2005, the Chevrolet Uplander receives only minor changes for 2006. The standard 3.5-litre V6 is joined by an optional 3.9-litre V6 with variable valve timing. Optional side-impact airbags are available for the first- and second-row outboard positions, and two new exterior colours are offered, Bordeaux Red and Amber Bronze Metallic.
The Uplander is a minivan, although GM prefers to call it a “mid-van”; it also appears as the Pontiac Montana SV6, Buick Terraza and Saturn Relay. It’s available in short- or long-wheelbase configuration, all with seven-passenger seating.
A change in trim designations means the Uplander is available in base LS, LT1 and LT2 levels. All come standard with a 3.5-litre V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission. Versatrak on-demand all-wheel-drive is available on the LT2 extended-wheelbase model.
Base models include power heated mirrors, 17-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear washer/wiper, air conditioning, tilt wheel, power front windows, CD/MP3 stereo with four speakers, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, power locks with keyless entry, and OnStar.
The LT lines add roof rack side rails, cruise control, floor mats, integrated child seat, overhead storage bin, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, power swing-out rear quarter windows, power six-way driver’s seat, front and second-row utility trays, and remote starter.
Driving the Uplander is a pleasant surprise; handling is more car-like than a typical minivan. The 3.5-litre has enough power for merging and passing, although the 3.9-litre may be preferable if you frequently carry a full house in all seven seats. There’s a lot of storage space, especially in the long-wheelbase version, although passengers in the regular-wheelbase models won’t feel cheated out of any legroom.
A removable four-compartment cargo organizer, standard on the LT extended model, provides plenty of room to corral items out of sight. One compartment is also water-resistant to hold wet gear, while those en route to a dinner party will find that a bottle of wine fits perfectly on its side. All models come with an overhead rail system; it’s not really upscale-looking, but optional items (including a DVD entertainment system and CD case) can be easily snapped onto it, or moved around for greater versatility.
Rear visibility isn’t the greatest, and while the second and third rows do fold to form a flat floor, Chrysler’s Stow ’no Go seating still reigns. In the Uplander’s favour, it does offer an all-wheel-drive version, which can’t be added to the Chrysler because of those same folding seats. And in recent U.S. government crash testing, the Uplander received the top “good” rating for frontal crash protection.
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