What is It?
Autotrac 4WD system. Modes offered: 2WD, Auto 4WD, 4WD-Hi, 4WD-Lo.
What We Like
If you live in the Snow Belt, the security of automatic 4WD engagement in snow or icy conditions can sometimes mean the difference between retaining momentum and getting personal with a snowbank. Traveling over a rocky trail or traversing loose shale, you'll appreciate the locking 4WD system that doesn't have to think about when or where to send power, plus having a low range that provides plenty of grunt to get over steep trails or pull a loaded boat up a launch ramp is a big plus.
What We Don't Like
The Auto 4WD is slower to respond to wheelslip than the Explorer's system, and the drop-tip exhaust is over-exposed to off-road hazards and can easily take a beating (or folding) on a trail. Since the Envoy rides at a comfortable height for easy ingress/egress, we really have to question the need for runningboards that'll catch every obstacle, while muddying your pantleg whenever you get in or out of the vehicle. As one editor commented, "You can either take them off or rip them off. Your choice."
How It Works
For soft-road and snowy conditions, the Envoy's automatic four-wheel-drive setting will easily get you to your destination. And don't worry about slippery launch ramps--just twist a knob to engage 4WD-Lo and ease 'er on up. We'd be surprised if 10 percent of Envoy owners ever took their vehicle on anything worse than a dirt road. But for those who do pleasure in taking their SUV off the beaten path, the Envoy is a capable workhorse that can traverse rough terrain without breaking too much of a sweat. Of course, if you do try crawling over a few rocks, don't be surprised if the runningboards come back looking like pieces of modern art.