The Chevrolet Avalanche is one of the more versatile vehicles on the road today. It successfully blends the comfort and passenger capacity of an SUV with the cargo flexibility of a pickup truck. While these two main attributes are also associated with full-size crew cab pickups, the Avalanche goes one step further with its distinctive fold-down midgate that extends the bed into the cabin for greater hauling capability.
Since its debut, the Chevrolet Avalanche has been based on General Motors' full-size SUV platform. This means that its basic underpinnings and powertrains are similar to those of other GM full-size utes. Though it costs a bit more than the average crew-cab pickup, the versatile Avalanche has proven to be a reasonable sales success. For the shopper in need of a jack-of-all-trades vehicle, either generation of this unusual truck should make for a smart choice.
Current Chevrolet Avalanche
The Chevrolet Avalanche is a full-size SUV with an open bed in back as opposed to the normally covered, wagonlike cargo compartment. The midgate feature allows one to quickly change this rig from a five-to-six-passenger crew cab pickup with a 5-foot 3-inch cargo box to a two-to-three-passenger pickup with an approximate 8-foot cargo box. Bonus features include removable cargo covers and storage compartments placed along the outside of the cargo box.
There are three trim levels: base Avalanche LS, midgrade Avalanche LT and plush Avalanche LTZ. All models are equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 (320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque) that's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. LS and LT 4WD models get a single-speed transfer case, while a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing is standard on the LTZ and available as an option on other trim levels.
In reviews, we found the Avalanche to be comfortable and smooth-riding for such a capable workhorse. Performance is sprightly considering the Avalanche's heft. The big truck is relatively easy to drive on open roads, thanks to precise steering and predictable handling. Maneuvering in tight spots is tough, however, due to the Avalanche's massive size and considerable blind spots astern.
Used Chevrolet Avalanche Models
The present, second-generation Chevy Avalanche debuted for 2007. Sleeker exterior styling, a sharper and more precise driving feel and increased interior refinement are the chief advantages compared to the first-generation Avalanche. Apart from the availability of an optional 6.0-liter V8 (with 366 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque) from 2007-'09 and the addition of a six-speed automatic for '09, changes for this generation since have been minimal. Prior to 2009, the 5.3-liter V8 was rated slightly differently (310 hp for the 4WD and 320 hp for the 2WD) and all Avalanches had a four-speed automatic transmission.
The original 2002-'06 Chevrolet Avalanche established itself with its innovative midgate. The foldable midgate allowed the rear seats to be lowered and the cargo area to be expanded to the length of a long bed on a normal pickup. In terms of passenger room and cargo bed versatility, this truck is very similar to the current one. At its debut, the first-generation model was offered with two- or four-wheel drive and in 1500 (half-ton) or 2500 (3/4-ton) designations. The 1500 came with a 5.3-liter V8 good for 285 hp. The 2500 model had a 340-hp 8.1-liter V8 as well as higher towing and payload capacities. Both engines came standard with a four-speed automatic transmission.
In reviews conducted on the debut model, the truck received high marks for its versatile and innovative cab configuration, comfortable seating and more nimble nature compared to true crew-cab pickups of the day. Downsides included compromised outward visibility, low-grade interior materials and awkward exterior styling. That last attribute was frequently attributed to the truck's standard-issue gray-color lower body cladding. Chevrolet wisely made it an option starting in 2003.
Shoppers interested in a used Chevy Avalanche should keep in mind that small but notable changes were made for most of the vehicle's run. These include a special North Face Edition for '03 as well as the addition of optional stability control and a slight drop in rated power for the 8.1-liter V8 the following year.
Read the most recent 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Chevrolet Avalanche page.