The Chevrolet Uplander is the last of GM’s half-hearted attempts to meet the needs of minivan buyers. It debuted in 2005 but was heavily based on its predecessor, the Venture, which dated back to 1997. Both regular- and extended-wheelbase models are available in LS trim; the LT model only comes in the long version. The 3.9-liter V-6 offers a respectable 240 horsepower, but the Uplander lags behind the competition in driving comfort and packaging innovation. Even the four-speed automatic transmission seems antiquated. Safety is the only area where this minivan truly performs.
Production will not continue beyond this model year, as the Uplander is slated to be replaced by the Chevy Traverse, a fourth version of the Lambda-platform crossover SUV (Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook). With that in mind, the Uplander should be available for well below sticker price as it languishes on dealer lots.
Minor changes are made as the Uplander slowly strolls to automotive purgatory. Stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, and XM radio are now standard on all models. An auxiliary input jack is standard on non-navigation radios, and Ink Slate Metallic is a new paint color
On the ground floor is the regular-wheelbase LS, which has a list price of $22,320 and includes stability control, power windows and locks, remote entry, and air conditioning. The extended-wheelbase LS, for $25,030, adds 13.4 inches of length.
The top of the line is the LT, which rings in at $30,110. For that money, you get 17-inch aluminum wheels, a roof rack, power side mirrors, a power driver’s seat, a trip computer, automatic front climate control and rear air conditioning, and a DVD entertainment system for the kids in the back.
If you’re considering an Uplander at anywhere near list price, be aware that you could find a far better minivan for the price of an LT. Staying on the bargain-hunter assumption, your best price-to-space ratio is achieved with the extended-wheelbase LS.
Both LS models can be equipped to a level that should keep the whining from the wee ones to a minimum. A sound system with a six-CD in-dash changer goes for $295. The $645 climate package gives you tinted windows, power mirrors, a rear window defogger, and a rear wiper. DVD entertainment costs $995, and for another $150 you can add a modular rail system for overhead storage; $75 will get you two extra pairs of wireless headphones. Cruise control is not standard and adds $250 to the sticker price. A power driver’s seat goes for $275. Side airbags are an extra $350, and that allows purchase of the $125 integrated second-row child seat. Carpeted floor mats cost $80, and for those who live with extremely cold winters, there’s an engine-block heater for $75.
The LT model, befitting its higher status, comes with more luxury options such as the $2145 navigation system or $650 chrome wheels. The rest of the options exclusive to the LT come in package form: The Premium Seating package includes heated front leather seats for $1350; the $720 Power Convenience package has a 115-volt power outlet, a power-sliding door on the driver’s side, and rear parking assist); the $300 Convenience package has universal garage-door opener, remote start, and a cargo organizer; and the $260 Safe and Secure package comes with a sport suspension, load-leveling rear shocks, an inflator kit, and all-season tires.
Chevy claims the garish long front nose provides added crush space in a crash. Actual safety features include standard stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and front airbags. Side airbags, which protect the first and second row, are an option. All second-row seats have LATCH anchors for child seats.