The Chevrolet Uplander mini van was introduced in 2005 as the replacement for both the Venture and the Astro. Although technically classified by GM as a mini van, the Uplander is more of a cross between an SUV and a mini van, or perhaps a cross over sport van. Combining the features that were popular and appreciated in mini vans, like seating for seven with a choice of captain's chairs or bench seating in the second row and a decent amount of cargo room and configurations, with the more rugged appearance and size of an SUV was an earnest attempt by Chevrolet to be able to compete with similar vehicles such offered by Toyota, Honda and Chrysler.
Standard convenience and flexibility features have been plentiful in the Uplander since its introduction. The 2005 Chevrolet Uplander featured all wheel drive, an OnStar navigational system and a PhatNoize removable hard drive that allows driver and passengers to display and play favorite movies, MP3 music files, video games and even digital photos. Initially, it was commonly perceived that despite all its gadgetry the 2005 Uplander lacked the adequate engine power necessary for the size of the vehicle and also fell short in terms of stability and handling which could make for a less than smooth ride.
In 2006, Chevrolet addressed the previously expressed concerns by including an optional 3.9 liter V6 engine with 240 horsepower on the front wheel drive Uplander with the longer wheel base. An optional "Safe and Secure" package also became available in 2006, which greatly enhanced the responsiveness and overall handling for an improved ride and a greater degree of safety.
For the 2007 model year, the Chevrolet Uplander is available with the 3.9 liter V6 engine standard, while the 3.5 liter V6 is no longer available. Also discontinued in the Uplander line is all wheel drive. Now, the Uplander is available only in front wheel drive, with the 3.9 liter V6 now powered by straight gasoline or a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, also known as E85 compatible.
Although not quite as comfortable, stylish or luxurious as those models offered by the competition, the Uplander is still the best value for the money. Priced far below similar vehicles from other manufacturers, the Uplander does provides the basic components of what most people would buy a mini van for, yet lacks the "soccer mom" appearance that has become associated with mini vans in general.