Full 2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche Review
What's New for 2013
As the 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche enters its final year of production, it receives the "Black Diamond" addition to its name, along with more standard features that were previously optional.
Are you looking for the utility of a pickup truck with the comfort and road manners of an SUV? Well, you better act fast, as the 2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche marks the end of the line for this automotive cross-breeding experiment. In its final year, the big change is essentially only in name, adding the "Black Diamond" moniker as a nod to the most difficult ski run classification. Otherwise, the Avalanche retains all of the advantages and drawbacks of its predecessors.
The pickup and SUV cross-breeding results in a vehicle with an SUV-like front half and a pickup bed in the back. Separating the two is a "midgate" behind the rear seats that can be lowered to provide an 8-foot-long load floor. Versatility and convenience are further bolstered by a lockable tailgate and a sturdy three-piece tonneau for securing valuable cargo. The tonneau can also be removed to allow for larger items.
Besides the unique transformative nature of the Avalanche, it also benefits from a ride quality that is more like an SUV than a bouncy pickup. But this added comfort does come at the expense of towing capacity, which tops out at 8,100 pounds. All of the SUV character also increases the price compared to conventional trucks, while reducing rear visibility.
Whether or not the 2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche's positive attributes outweigh its drawbacks for you, it is essentially in a class of its own. The closest approximation would be a crew-cab version of a Ford F-150 , Ram 1500 , Toyota Tundra or even Chevy's own Silverado. If comfort and versatility are priorities over rugged utility and affordability, we're sure the Avalanche will fit you just fine.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Even though the 2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche is classified as a full-size crew-cab pickup, its removable rear window and fold-down midgate allow for much more versatility. Three trim levels are offered: base LS, midrange LT and premium LTZ.
The LS features 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, a roof rack, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, side assist steps, remote ignition, rear parking sensors and a removable three-piece bed cover. Inside you'll find dual-zone manual air-conditioning, cruise control, power-adjustable pedals, six-way power front seats, 60/40-split rear seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and rear seat audio controls. A 40/20/40 front bench seat is optional on the LS and increases seating capacity to six.
The LT adds to the base LS equipment a locking rear differential, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and a seven-speaker Bose sound system. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional. The All-Star package (called the Texas package in that state) adds polished wheels, chrome exterior trim, power-folding mirrors and an auto-dimming driver-side mirror.
The top-of-the-line LTZ includes the All-Star/Texas package, but adds 20-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension with automatic load leveling, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, perforated leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable heated and cooled front seats, driver seat memory functions, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, real-time traffic, a universal garage door opener and an eight-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. Power-retractable side steps are optional.
The Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package available on the LT and LTZ adds a sunroof, a rear-seat entertainment system and the navigation system on LT models. Optional wheels in 20- and 22-inch sizes are available on all 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 beefy fender flares, an aggressive front fascia and tubular side assist steps.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche is a 5.3-liter V8 that produces 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Properly equipped, the Avalanche can tow up to 8,100 pounds.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, with four-wheel drive available as an option. 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. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined for both rear- and four-wheel-drive models.
Standard safety features on the Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche include antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, trailer sway control, hill start assist, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and GM's OnStar emergency communications system.
Interior Design and Special Features
For smaller passengers, the Avalanche requires a bit of a climb to get into, but once seated they're rewarded with an attractive interior. As you'd expect from a vehicle with working-class roots, designers also paid careful attention to function, with well-placed gauges and easy-to-use controls (though most buttons are a little too small). Poor visibility is an issue, however, so drivers may be relying heavily on the rearview camera and parking sensors in tight confines.
The cabin offers comfortable seating for up to six passengers with the 40/20/40-split front seat available on the LS. The standard front bucket seats are supportive and separated by a center console with a large covered storage box, air vents and audio controls for rear seat passengers.
Of course, the Avalanche truly distinguishes itself from pickups or full-size SUVs with its cargo-hauling capacity. Folding the rear seats and midgate forward while leaving the rear window and hard tonneau cover in place creates a huge cargo area, which is secure thanks to the lockable cover and tailgate. Taking advantage of the Avalanche's full pickup-like carrying capacity does require you to remove and stow both the rear window and bed cover, however.
From behind the wheel, the first thing you notice about the 2013 Chevrolet Black Diamond Avalanche is that it accelerates smartly for such a large vehicle. Handling and steering feel are both better than you'd expect from a pickup, though the truck's super-size dimensions and equally large blind spots to the sides and rear make maneuvering in tight quarters a challenge. On the upside, the Avalanche rides a bit smoother and quieter than a traditional pickup.