What's New for 2010
The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche gets a couple of changes. A USB port has been added to the audio system, and the previous four-trim lineup has been condensed to just three. The optional 6.0-liter V8 has been dropped; also, a single-speed transfer case is now standard on 4WD models, with a two-speed transfer case offered as an option.
The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche reflects GM's effort to combine a pickup with an SUV. The Avalanche takes after its pickup parent with its four-door crew-cab configuration. However, unlike a truck, its cab and bed aren't separate; instead, the Avalanche features an SUV's one-piece body.
At the center of it all is a unique midgate design that makes the Avalanche both versatile and flexible. The midgate consists of a foldable wall and a removable rear window that separates the cabin and the bed. When paired with the vehicle's watertight, lockable bed cover, the midgate allows Avalanche owners to choose from a host of configurations. The bed can be left fully open like a pickup's or enclosed like an SUV's.
Certainly, the full-sized Avalanche is no slouch in the size department. Its generous dimensions make it a somewhat unwieldy companion around town, and it incurs big bills at the pump. Prospective buyers will also want to consider its cost -- this mixed-breed Chevy is more expensive than a similarly sized crew-cab pickup.
If you're in the market for a vehicle with this kind of versatility, you've got a couple of choices to mull over. The Cadillac Escalade EXT is pretty much the same truck; it gets you more power and luxury but at a higher price. The Honda Ridgeline is another alternative. Smaller than the Avalanche, the Ridgeline is more easily maneuverable, and is worth considering if maximum cargo capacity isn't a priority. Keep in mind, though, that this Honda's car-based design makes it less rugged than the Avalanche; also, it doesn't offer the Chevy's useful midgate.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche is a full-size crew-cab pickup with a removable rear window and exclusive midgate. There are three trim levels: LS, LT and premium LTZ. The basic LS features a composite cargo bed, a removable three-piece cargo cover, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a front 40/20/40-split bench seat with center storage, a power driver seat, basic OnStar capability and a single-CD stereo with an auxiliary jack, USB port and satellite radio.
The LT is similar to the LS, but has standard Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, rear parking assist, front bucket seats, rear audio controls, a premium sound system, remote start and enhanced OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation. The top-drawer LTZ offers standard 20-inch wheels, a navigation system, an adaptive suspension, heated and ventilated leather seats, a rearview camera, integrated turn-signal mirrors and an automatic-dimming rearview mirror. Many of these upper-trim-level features are available as options on the lower trims.
Add the Z71 Off Road package and you get specialized springs and shock absorbers, upgraded 18-inch off-road tires, front recovery hooks, a skid plate and a high-capacity air cleaner. The Z71 looks different, too, thanks to large color-keyed wheel flares, an aggressive front fascia and chrome assist steps.
Depending on the trim level, other stand-alone or packaged options include a navigation system, power running boards, 20-inch wheels, a rearview camera, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a sunroof. An integrated trailer-brake controller and a heavy-duty trailer package are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche is available with either two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). The standard setup for 4WD models this year is a single-speed transfer case; a more traditional two-speed transfer case (with low-range gearing) is optional.
All 2010 Avalanche models come standard with a 5.3-liter V8 putting out 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, driven through a six-speed automatic transmission. A properly equipped 2WD Avalanche can tow up to 8,100 pounds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for 2010 is 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined for 2WD versions.
Standard Avalanche safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, GM's OnStar emergency communications system and a full-length side curtain airbag system with a rollover sensor. In government crash tests, the Avalanche earned a top five-star rating in all front- and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
As is the case with the related Silverado pickup, the Avalanche's cabin boasts solid fit and finish and a logical layout of controls. With bucket seats, the Avalanche seats five, but it can carry up to six passengers when equipped with the split-bench front seat.
With the midgate up, the Avalanche's cargo bed is 5-feet-3-inches long; drop the midgate and slide the rear seats forward and the bed grows to over 8 feet. Configuring the midgate is simple and easy. Additional storage opportunities are to be found via removal of the cargo covers and utilization of the cargo box's outside compartments.
With no cargo and just a driver in the cabin, the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche offers acceleration that's quicker than its considerable size would suggest. The steering is light but accurate, and the Avalanche is competent around corners. Thanks to its SUV-like body, the Avalanche is a bit smoother and quieter on the road than a traditional pickup, but its large size and considerable blind spots can make it difficult to maneuver in parking lots.