Is it a four-door pickup truck, or is it a sport utility vehicle that happens to have an open cargo bed? The Avalanche is both. Chevrolet calls it the ultimate utility vehicle.
The Avalanche is built in Mexico and features a Convert-a-Cab System. Its possible to fold the rear seat, stow the back window and lower the midgate when hauling cargo. The rear window may be removed at any time for an open-air driving feel even if extra cargo versatility isnt needed.
A 5.3-liter V-8 engine powers the half-ton 1500 series, while the 2500 series is equipped with an 8.1-liter V-8. A North Face Edition has also been available. Motor Trend magazine named the Avalanche its 2002 Truck of the Year. For 2004, Hydroboost brakes are standard on the 1500 model and the companys StabiliTrak electronic stability system is available with the Premium On-Road Suspension Package.
Based on Chevrolets Silverado full-size pickup truck and Suburban SUV, the Avalanche has four full-size doors. Styling features include a massive front bumper and gray lower-body cladding. The rear bumper incorporates built-in steps for easier access to the 5-foot-3-inch cargo box.
When a configuration change is needed, the rear seat folds and the midgate lowers to expand the cargo area by 34 inches. Top-box storage units are mounted on the cargo-box sides.
Measuring 221.7 inches long overall, 73.3 inches tall and 79.8 inches wide on a 130-inch wheelbase, the Avalanche 1500 has an 8.6-inch ground clearance with standard 16-inch tires; 17-inchers are available as optional equipment.
The Avalanche can hold as few as two occupants or as many as six. The front section may have two bucket seats or a three-place 40/20/40-split bench. The back features a three-passenger 60/40-split, folding bench seat. An XM Satellite Radio and a Panasonic DVD entertainment system are optional.
Under the Hood
Available with rear-wheel drive or Autotrac four-wheel drive, the Avalanche 1500 holds a 295-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 engine that generates 330 pounds-feet of torque. The four-speed-automatic transmission has a tow/haul mode. Autotrac four-wheel drive automatically distributes power among the four wheels to maintain traction. The Avalanche 2500 packs a 320-hp, 8.1-liter V-8 that yields 445 pounds-feet of torque.
A rear-drive Avalanche 1500 equipped with trailer brakes can tow 8,200 pounds. The StabiliTrak system can be installed on half-ton two-wheel-drive models.
Antilock brakes with dynamic rear proportioning, dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and daytime running lights are standard.
Even though the Avalanche looks immense, it feels considerably less gargantuan when you are inside. Everything in the innovative, reconfigurable interior functions just as promised.
The Avalanche is unabashedly trucklike and rides a lot more smoothly than expected, at least on relatively smooth pavement. The firm suspension absorbs a fair amount of disturbance and eases rough spots. Steering and braking feel unusually light. The Avalanche is easy to maneuver in the city and feels solid and in control on the highway.
Passing performance is fairly exuberant. Other than momentary hesitation after downshifting, the automatic transmission produces no unpleasant surprises. The Avalanche is quiet inside, and it suffers only a little road noise. The seats are comfortable and have great thigh support.