When I first purchased this vehicle, the speedometer was sticking after the lights were on for a while. The dealer was nice enough to replace the dash free of charge, otherwise it would have been a $850 repair.
The 4x4 dash switch felt loose from the first time I drove it, but it doesn't rattle during a trip. I asked the dealer about it and they said that was normal as they were all built like that. (I doubt it, but they won't fix it and I don't care anyway.)
85,000 km: Previous owner (I'm the second owner) had to get all of the hoses replaced and it required a new return A/C line from the A/C compressor. (Not sure why?)
110,000 km: Broken A/C vent. Can't move the air direction vanes anymore on the left hand drivers side vent. I don't care, but it is slightly annoying.
115,000 km: It needed a new fuel pump, fuel filter, power steering seal and belts. Total cost of repairs: $600.
135,000 km: It was producing no heat during a very cold winter. It appears that the 1996-1998 models had a problem with cooling system contamination. Especially if the coolant level manages to get too low. The low coolant on my vehicle was caused by a bad intake manifold seal and ignorance. To prevent further coolant loss, it had to be replaced. (This was a $700 job.) Since Dex-cool gels when it's exposed to oxygen, I needed to get the vehicles cooling system completely flushed. (This is a $550 job.) I also found that it was also leaking oil. It required new oil cooler lines. (Another $750 job.) Since the compressor was cycling frequently, it also needed a A/C recharge and compressor oil. I expected that after 7 years on the road. What I didn't expect was a the cost of repairs totaling $2200.
140,000 km: Rear latch for upper tailgate broken and new hinges for right front door. Total cost of repairs: $200.
This vehicle makes an excellent substitution to the typical station wagon by offering plenty of cargo space.
My driving style results in 17 to 18 MPG in the city and roughly 24 MPG on the highway, giving me a range of approximately 400-450 km per tank.
The engine is very powerful for this class of vehicle, making it very enjoyable to drive and giving you plenty of passing power when you need it. The 4 speed overdrive transmission provides a nice low 2100 RPM at 100 km/h, keeping the engine noise to a bare minimum, even at higher highway speeds.
The 60/40 split rear seats make it a pleasure to haul stuff around in, without losing any functionality of a 4-door sedan. Since the rear seats fold back flat to the floor, I can carry as much as a full-sized washing machine without a problem.
The controls on this vehicle are very well laid out and the dashboard is easy to read and understand. The seats feel comfortable and feel high up. The map accessory pocket located under the radio and the compass/temperature readout are extremely convenient. I wish all vehicles had these.
This vehicle has been reliable, running very smoothly and quietly. It hasn't let me down yet, except for the times when I accidentally leave the dome light on and flatten the battery. The dashboard dimmer control was poorly designed in that aspect. GM fixed this in the 1998 model year.
It just seems that for this model year, GM botched the cooling system design. I expect that I will be getting it flushed every few years. In some ways, I'm a little irked that after 7 years on the road, this vehicle needed some very major seals and hoses replaced at some very expensive labor prices.
My biggest complaint about this vehicle is the stiff "Power Assist" steering.
The power assisted steering is ideal for off-road driving, driving on uneven surfaces and slippery surfaces, however it is very fatiguing if it is being driven on a long highway trip.
My second biggest complaint is the sensitivity of the transmission to the accelerator. It seems that GM was learning how to do it right with the 4.3. If I floor it from 40 km/h, (Which is required on a short exit lane in some places I've driven) it does a 3-2-1-2-3 shift, which is not very pleasurable at all. Fortunately, GM fixed this harsh shifting problem on the 1998 models.