It's not exactly a historic moment or anything, but today's review of the 2000 GMC Jimmy sport utility vehicle is my last . . . not my last car review, hopefully, but the last review of a vehicle called "Jimmy."

That's because General Motors has decided to dump the name in favor of a monicker with a loftier ring to it: Envoy, the name that GM has used for the past three years for a luxury version of the Jimmy.

Production of the 2002 Envoy is scheduled to begin in January with the new vehicle hitting GMC showrooms in the spring.

The Jimmy name first appeared 31 years ago on a full-size SUV that was the predecessor of the GMC Yukon, but people had for years been running the letters GMC together to come up with "Jimmy" before GM decided to formalize it.

Personally, I liked it better when it was informal, a nickname used by owners in the tradition of "Ol' Betsy." Once GM gave the name its seal of approval, it lost much of its cool quotient. GM says there are currently no plans to bring the name back on any other vehicle, so now it can return to its roots as an unofficial nickname.

So, if you think the name "Envoy" sounds a bit stuffy (envoys are representatives of foreign governments who rank below ambassadors), why you just feel free to go right on calling your GMC a Jimmy. On the other hand, GM has dumped names before (Malibu, Impala) only to bring them back years later.

Chevrolet is also going to change the name of its Jimmy sister ship, long known as the Blazer, to Trailblazer, a name that also has been used recently for an upscale version of the Blazer. The Oldsmobile version will remain the Bravada. Thank goodness there are at least a few things we can count on in this ever-changing world.

All three SUV's will get a major overhaul next year, becoming longer and wider with more carlike (as opposed to trucklike) handling and ride quality and powered by a new, more powerful 4.2-liter, six-cylinder engine. There is even speculation that longer versions, offering a third row of seating, will be introduced in future versions of the Envoy/Trailblazer/Bravada triplets.

So, if you like the 2000 Jimmy just as it is, as a smaller sport-ute which is easier to park, fits better in your garage and gets semi-decent fuel mileage (compared to the behemoth SUVs) of 16 mpg in city driving and 20 mpg on the highway, then the 2000 GMC Jimmy represents your last chance.

Conversely, if you think the Jimmy is a bit too small and underpowered for its price, then wait until next year.

Speaking of price, they're not giving Jimmys away, even though they've got a new one in the works. Base price for my tester was $33,370, but a "Diamond Edition" package added $1,250. With another $750 for an optional sunroof and a delivery charge of $550, the bottom line came to $35,920.

The "Diamond Edition" is one of those special packages that bundles a number of options together. In this case, it includes those ultrawhite xenon headlights, a multiple-CD player, rear load leveling suspension, rear audio controls and an interior treatment in which the upholstery is segmented into a diamond pattern. (Diamond Edition, get it?)

While I understand the concept of creating special editions (Ford has used just about every big-name designer on the planet for its special editions, not to mention clothing retailer Eddie Bauer), I found the diamond upholstery to be . . . well, let's just say that it doesn't improve on the old Naugahyde tuck-n-roll jobs of the '50s.

For 2000, Jimmy models come with a higher level of content than in the past, which simplifies the ordering process. As noted above, the Diamond Edition package and the sunroof were the only options on my tester, a far cry from the past when a typical GM product would have a long list of items listed separately, a move to keep the base price low for advertising purposes.

But consumers have tired of that ploy, particularly since the imports haven't played that game and have snared customers away from the Detroit Big Three in the process.

New Jimmys have higher trailer ratings, up 200 pounds on two-wheel-drive models and 600 pounds on 4WD models.

The Smooth Ride suspension package has been discontinued, with Jimmy customers now having a choice of Euro-Ride or Off-Road Ride on two-door models and Euro-Ride or Luxury Ride on four-door models.

There are a few other minor upgrades, but until the new ones hit the streets next year, the 2000 Jimmy is pretty much the same vehicle that it's been for much of the past decade, which has to be a good thing because there are so many of them out there, particularly the Chevy Blazer version.

Now all that remains to be seen is whether the sport-utility phenomenon has real staying power in the face of rising gasoline prices or whether the pendulum will swing back once again toward smaller, lighter, less-thirsty automobiles.


E-MAIL: max@desnews.com