2012 Chevrolet Avalanche Review

Pros & Cons

  • Versatile midgate-based body style
  • more composed ride than regular pickups
  • comfortable seating.
  • Higher price and lower towing capacity than regular pickups
  • large size and rear-quarter blind spots hinder maneuverability.
List Price Estimate
$12,735 - $17,383

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Thanks to its practical midgate configuration, the 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche is an ideal crew-cab pickup for carrying a combination of passengers and cargo.

Vehicle overview

The 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche is essentially a cross between two popular body styles: part four-door crew-cab pickup and part full-size SUV. To create it, Chevy designers and engineers grafted a 5-foot-3 pickup bed onto the underpinnings of the brand's venerable Suburban SUV, creating a unique truck that combines the best qualities of both.

The innovation that really makes these individual parts transcend their humble origins is the two-piece "midgate" behind the rear seats. Folding the rear seatbacks forward and opening the midgate transforms the Avalanche from a five-passenger SUV into a pickup with an 8-foot load floor that stretches from just behind the front seats back to the lockable tailgate. A three-piece hard tonneau cover turns the space into secure storage for low-profile items like surfboards and toolboxes, and can be removed to make room for large loads like dirt bikes or major appliances.

While these uncommon attributes make the Avalanche an intriguing alternative to old-school pickups and SUVs, this beast has its drawbacks. Topping the list are its plus-sized dimensions and limited visibility out the back. The fact that the Avalanche is more expensive, yet has a lower towing capacity than comparable crew-cab pickups is another issue buyers need to keep in mind.

The 2012 Avalanche certainly isn't for everybody. The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado, 2012 Ram 1500, 2012 Ford F-150 and 2012 Toyota Tundra all provide much of the passenger benefits of the Avalanche, but with a lower price and greater capability. Nonetheless, this SUV/pickup combination still offers a mix of attributes that certainly makes it appealing, especially for those who prioritize passenger comfort over utility.

2012 Chevrolet Avalanche models

The 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche is a full-size crew-cab pickup with a removable rear window and fold-down midgate. There are three trim levels available: the base LS, midrange LT and premium LTZ.

The LS features 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a roof rack, a composite cargo bed, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, side assist steps and a removable three-piece bed cover. Inside you'll find dual-zone manual air-conditioning, cruise control, six-way power front seats, 60/40-split rear seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, 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 Convenience package adds rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition and power-adjustable pedals.

The LT adds to the base LS equipment foglights, rear parking sensors, a locking rear differential, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, remote ignition and a seven-speaker Bose sound system. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional. The Luxury package adds power-folding mirrors, eight-way power front seats with power lumbar adjustment and driver memory, leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The top-of-the-line LTZ includes the Luxury package, but adds 20-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension with automatic load leveling, a driver-side auto-dimming mirror, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, real-time traffic, a rearview camera 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 on the LT, navigation and real-time traffic. 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.

2012 Highlights

The Avalanche's standard stability-control system now includes trailer sway control and hill start assist for 2012. Heated seats are also now standard on the LT, while the LTZ gets a heated steering wheel.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche is offered with a choice of either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. 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.

Under the hood, all three Avalanche models get a 5.3-liter V8 that generates 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 -- about 2,000 pounds less than a Silverado. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined for both 2WD and 4WD models.

Safety

Standard safety features on the Chevrolet Avalanche include antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, plus GM's OnStar emergency communications system. For 2012, the standard stability control system now includes trailer sway control and hill start assist.

Driving

From behind the wheel, the first thing you notice about the 2012 Chevrolet 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 drives a bit smoother and quieter than a traditional pickup design.

Interior

Getting into the 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche requires a bit of a climb, but once you're there you'll be rewarded with a good-looking interior trimmed with quality materials. 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 we'd strongly recommend the rearview camera that's standard on the LTZ and available as an option on other models.

The cabin also 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.

While all these passenger-oriented comforts set it apart from full-size pickups, the Avalanche distinguishes itself from full-size SUVs in its cargo-hauling capacity. Folding the rear seats 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 removing and stowing both the rear window and bed cover, however.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

My 2012 Avalanche Purchase
John,06/13/2016
LT 4dr Crew Cab SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A)
This is my forth Avalanche. the first one i ordered after seeing her at an Auto Show here in Atlanta. traded her for a 2003 Orange one and traded her for a black Z66 that i keep for 11 plus years. I put over 305000 mile on her and loved every moment but i was due for an upgrade. So i looked at a number of different types of vehicles. I even test drove a Tesla which i loved but could not afford and was not suited for my type of driving. I found my 2012 at the Dealer (Day's Chevrolet) where I purchased all of my other Avalanches. She belonged to the Finance manager with 45000 miles on her. I knew it was well maintained and looked as if she was brand new. This 2012 is the best of all the Avalanches I've owned. Ride, transmission, fit and finish all better. Hope this helps, I'm very disappointed the Chevy stopped production, is was not done because people did not love the Truck it was Government .
Love this thing!
majorv,04/21/2013
LT 4dr Crew Cab SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A)
I've never spent more than $18k for a new car so this was a real splurge for me, but I am totally in love with this 2012 Avalanche! We raise and show rabbits and I got it to take our rabbits and equipment to the shows. It has not disappointed me. It's easy to drop the back seat and midgate and I have LOTS of room to put rabbit cages, grooming table, etc..., and the best part is that I can keep the rabbits cool or warm, as needed, because the bed cover keeps the elements out. The ride is very nice, not at all like a truck. The only thing I'm on the fence about is the AFM (active fuel management) system. If I have to press on the gas there tends to be a slight lag before it accelerates. Update 2016 - still love my Avy! Gas mileage has gone down a little and I wish the A/C blew a little stronger but overall I'd buy it again if I could. I keep getting offers to sell, but there is nothing else out there with the same features to replace it with so I'll keep it as long as I possibly can. Update 2019- I still have it, now at 115k miles. Still love it but facing the reality that it may be time to get a new truck. It’s been very dependable with no major work needed. Was hoping Chevy would bring the Avy back so I could get another one. Final Update 2020- sold the Avy 3 months ago at 117k miles. Hated too, but needed a lower mileage car now that I’m retired. Got a good price for it (it’s in demand!) and the dealer resold it within within 2 months. My next review will be on a New Ford Ranger.
Frito
Frito,12/04/2017
LTZ 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A)
I had a 2008 Avalanche LTZ 4x4 and wanted to get one more before they quit making them which is a shame.. Loved it and then went to the 2012 Avalanche LTZ 4x4 which is great looking truck. Always get compliments on it. I had a leveling kit put on the front. Negative is that the dash cracks on all of them!! Complete defect on Chevys part.. Also needed to have the 6.2L option the 5.3 just isn't enough power to carry it. Overall I would buy another one with the extended warranty to cover the dash..
My 3rd Avalance
T Floyd,05/15/2019
LT 4dr Crew Cab SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A)
This was the most versatile pickup ever built. I have owned 3 of them from the 1st 2003 (wrecked-totaled), 2nd bought used 2008, 3rd 2012 brand new. I absolutely love the Avalanche. Once the miles get up on these trucks (over 150,000) you will experience engine and/or transmission issues. Gas mileage runs around 13-15 mpg. Great road truck. Can get over 500 miles on one (premium) fill up. I just sold my 2012 Avalanche with 178,000 due to engine issues. Best truck I have ever owned.

Features & Specs

MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Flex-fuel (ffv)
320 hp @ 5400 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Flex-fuel (ffv)
320 hp @ 5400 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Flex-fuel (ffv)
320 hp @ 5400 rpm
MPG
15 city / 21 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Flex-fuel (ffv)
320 hp @ 5400 rpm
See all Used 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover22.8%

More about the 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche

Used 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche Overview

The Used 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche is offered in the following submodels: Avalanche Crew Cab. Available styles include LT 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), LTZ 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), LS 4dr Crew Cab 4WD SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), LS 4dr Crew Cab SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), LT 4dr Crew Cab SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), and LTZ 4dr Crew Cab SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A).

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Chevrolet Avalanche?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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