GMC Jimmy just didn't make it when General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac-GMC Div. was looking for a name for a Jimmy-based upscale compact sport/utility vehicle (SUV).

Dodge already had Diplomat sewed up, so why not Envoy? With a tad of hyperbole, Envoy Brand Manager Jeff Cohen says the name was chosen because, "Like a diplomat, Envoy is capable of smoothly performing in unexpected situations - and it's also a more international name."

So what we have here is an uspcale Jimmy and a latecomer in GMC's quest that began two years ago "to become the premier truck brand," says Mr. Cohen, who before joining GM helped establish fat-free sweets and baby wipes as strong brands.

Still, Mr. Cohen says he's been a car nut as long as he can remember. Now he gets to test his mettle making Envoy a household name, which despite the new vehicle's attributes may take some doing. One thing that may help: It's a GMC exclusive; no Chevrolet or Oldsmobile versions will be offered.

Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this year and arriving on the market next spring, Envoy will go up against some firmly established brands - Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer - and newcomers such as Mercedes' red-hot ML320 and Nissan's Infiniti QX4 in the high-end of the 1.7-million-per-year compact SUV market. Look for Envoy, loaded with standard equipment, to be priced in the low-$30,000 range.

"There's a new buyer in this segment," he says. "They are coming out of cars, and that means a shift in demographics. They are more highly educated and more affluent." They're also older - 35 to 49 compared with the late 20s to early 40s for Jimmy buyers, he adds.

What makes Envoy different from Jimmy? Most notable are body-colored full-wrap cladding, mirrors, wheel flares, rack and side mirrors. And unique HID headlamps that GMC says distribute 2.7 times more light than halogen lamps without blinding oncoming motorists.