2002 Chevrolet Avalanche Review
Pros & Cons
- Versatile and innovative cab configuration, strong V8 engine, high tow rating.
- Funky styling, cheap interior pieces, limited drivetrain choices.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Combining the comforts of a Tahoe with the practicality of a Silverado, the Avalanche is a crossover vehicle that creatively provides the best of both worlds.
Dubbed the first "Ultimate Utility Truck," the Avalanche attempts to bridge the gap between the comfort of a full-size SUV and the utility of a pickup truck. To achieve this, the Avalanche utilizes a foldable midgate between the bed and the second row of seats. In its standard configuration, the Avalanche is a comfortable five- or six-passenger (depending on the front seat) sport-ute that also provides a short cargo bed. Should you need to haul the ubiquitous 4x8-foot sheet of plywood, just remove the rear window (a simple twist and pull operation), fold the rear seats and lower the midgate for an instant transformation into a full-fledged work truck, complete with an 8-foot 1-inch bed.
It sounds a little complex, but it can all be done without tools, and the truck has a handy storage compartment for the displaced window. The Avalanche also incorporates many other innovative features like lockable storage chests in each side of the bed, a rear bumper with integrated step-ups and built-in grab handles that also serve as cargo tie downs. The standard cargo cover can support 250 pounds on any one of its three removable panels, and the optional ribbed soft cover even comes with a handy storage bag that mounts to the side of the bed with beefy snaphooks and a rachet strap to keep it snug.
The abundance of gee-whiz gadgets almost makes you forget that this is a burly full-size truck with the same underpinnings as a half-ton Suburban. It packs the punch of GM's 5.3-liter Vortec V8 that cranks out 285 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and 4x4 models feature GM's Autotrac pushbutton four-wheel-drive system that can be set to engage the front wheels automatically when it senses a loss of traction. The maximum tow rating for two-wheel-drive models is 8,300 pounds, while four-wheel-drive models can handle 8,100 pounds.
For better or worse, the interior is pure Chevy truck. Interior material quality is unimpressive, but there are simple gauges, a logical control layout and plenty of handy storage compartments. Four different seat fabrics (cloth, sport cloth, sport leather, leather) can be specified to suit your intended uses, while other options include automatic climate control, GM's OnStar system and a power sunroof. A premium on-road package adds 17-inch wheels, load-leveling rear shocks and a locking rear differential. The Z71 off-road package also adds 17-inch wheels and a locking differential along with specially tuned springs and shocks, skid plates and a high-capacity air cleaner.
There's no doubt that the Avalanche provides terrific utility in an innovative and bold package. Sport-ute and truck buyers have long wrestled with the question of what they need more -- cargo-hauling capacity or people-hauling capacity. Crew cab pickups are one alternative, but their shortened beds compromise utility. With the Avalanche, you can have both in one simple package.