Chevrolet says it's aiming the Avalanche at males who "use their truck as a tool." We think the 2002 Avalanche is more toy than tool - and an expensive toy at that, considering the $36,168 sticker on our four-wheel-drive test vehicle. We also think the Avalanche - essentially a short-bed pickup version of the big Suburban utility vehicle - is still a product in search of a market. We just wonder how much of a market there really is for an overgrown Tonkatruck. She: So I'm standing in the local Chevy dealership and one of the salesmen starts telling me about all the couples who come in acting like us. I don't understand at first. He says, "You know, they fight. Sometimes the man wants a Silverado pickup truck and the woman wants a GMC Envoy sport-utility vehicle. They end up compromising - and buy an Avalanche." Guess the Avalanche, which is pitched as an SUV that can turn into a pickup, is a marriage counselor's dream, if you believe that guy. He: I don't. Most of the married couples I know, the woman is the one with the brains, at least as far as picking the family vehicle. I can't imagine any woman choosing an Avalanche for her personal transportation, compromise or no. This is totally a guy car if I ever saw one. She: Wow. All my stealth sensitivity training has paid off. You're right on. My problem is that the Avalanche is not macho enough. I'm especially disappointed in the heavy-handed plastic cladding all over the outside of the vehicle. Plastic/aggressive. Do the two go together? Sounds like an oxymoron. He: Sounds like Fisher-Price. She: Fisher-Price at a phenomenal price. He: I have to admit that I was prepared to dislike the Avalanche, but after a short test drive, I was pleasantly surprised. There is plenty of room in the cabin, and the ride is quite smooth - much more like that of the Suburban rather than the Silverado. This is one pickup truck that doesn't bounce around like a pickup truck. Perhaps that's because the darn thing weighs close to three tons. That could also explain the lousy gas mileage - 13 in the city, 17 on the highway, although the 5.3-liter V-8 seems peppy enough, with 325 pounds-feet of torque on tap. She: The big news with the Avalanche is that midgate, which allows you to convert this into a pickup with a full bed. It was simple to operate. You fold the rear seats forward, turn three levers on the gate, then flip it forward to create a longer load floor. The rear glass also comes out. There are other novel ideas, too, including built-in storage bins/coolers in the rear fenders. The Avalanche has a three-piece hard-plastic tonneau cover that seems unduly complicated. He: On the other hand, the four-wheel-drive system couldn't be easier. A series of pushbuttons lets you shift on the fly from 2-High to 4-High or 4-Low. You can even put it into automatic 4x4 mode and forget about it. I didn't get a chance to take the Avalanche offroad during our rece nt drive, but I suspect that most buyers aren't going to want to get their trucks dirty - that they'll do most of their driving on city streets. In that case, I think the power steering on the Avalanche seems way too light and over-assisted. It makes parking easier, but the steering feels sloppy at medium speeds. She: I had the Avalanche out in the desert in southern California, and it performs like a military vehicle. It gets you through and over just about anything. But if I were really standing in a showroom arguing about whether to buy one, I would be worried about resale value because the Avalanche is just too weird and too much of a fringe vehicle for my comfort level. And I can anticipate your comeback. "But, honey, look at all the standard safety features, like antilock brakes, daytime running lights and four air bags." He: Actually, I was going to whine about the price, which seems breathtaking for a plastic-clad pickup. On the other hand, I suppose the Avalanch eems reasonably priced next to an $80,000 Hummer. She: We also had $2,200 worth of options on our test vehicle, including an off-road package with 17-inch wheels and tires, skid plates, upgraded shocks and springs and a locking rear differential. Maybe they need to add some optional gas masks to make this a truly contemporary urban vehicle. 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche Anita's rating: Acceptable Paul's rating: Above average Likes: Aggressive styling (Paul). Clever midgate and storage bins. Surprisingly comfortable ride. Roomy enough for six adults. More sensible than a Hummer for a certain crowd. Easy-to-use pushbutton 4WD system. Dislikes: Too much plastic cladding takes away from macho look (Anita). Complicated hard-plastic tonneau cover. Expensive for a toy. Power steering feels over-assisted and sloppy. Mediocre gas mileage. Visibility limited by narrow rear window, thick pillars and flying buttresses. Cloth interior looks too cheap for a $36,000 vehicle. Type: Front-engine, four-wheel drive, six-passenger sport-utility truck. Price: Base, $33,245; as tested, $36,168 (inc. $720 destination charge). Engine: 5.3-liter V-8; 285-hp; 325 lb-ft torque. EPA fuel economy: 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway. 12-month insurance cost, estimated by AAA Michigan: $1,509 (Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.) Where built: Mexico.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||April 15, 2002|
|Alan Vonderhaar||Cincinnati.com||February 16, 2002|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||November 22, 2001|
|Matt Nauman||TheMercuryNews.com||November 2, 2001|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||October 28, 2001|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||October 3, 2001|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||September 2, 2001|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||August 11, 2001|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||July 22, 2001|
|Anita Lienert||The Detroit News||June 13, 2001|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 3, 2001|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 1, 2001|
|Anita Lienert||The Detroit News||April 25, 2001|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||April 21, 2001|
|Matt Nauman||TheMercuryNews.com||April 13, 2001|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||February 7, 2001|
|Jason Stein||February 4, 2002|
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