2002 Chevrolet Avalanche

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$31,215

starting MSRP

2002 Chevrolet Avalanche

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche trim comparison will help you decide.

2002 Chevrolet Avalanche review: Our expert's take

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The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

Are you ready for a UUV? I am. Bring on the Chevrolet Avalanche. Never mind that the designation UUV, which stands for Ultimate Utility Vehicle, is grandiose. Never mind that the commercial featuring the poor schlemiel asking for change for a dollar is obnoxious. And never mind that the vehicle’s given name, Avalanche, is rather inauspicious for something that’s capable of fairly serious mountaineering.

The thought that went into this machine, and the brilliant execution thereof, shows the design talent that’s imprisoned within the halls of General Motors.

Anyone who owns a home and can’t afford full-time staff appreciates the value of a pickup truck. It would be great if you had the money and space to keep one about as an accessory vehicle, but that’s not often the case. As a daily ride, pickups have numerous disadvantages, most stemming from their trucky nature.

In recent years, the pickup purveyors have moved in the direction of multifunctionality, most notably with the four-door “Quad Cab” and “Crew Cab” designs, which, at least in full-size rigs, allow for carrying four to six (trim) adults in a cocoon while lugging gear out back.

Those are cool, but while they still serve well as prime movers for towing purposes, are quite limited in their sheer hauling ability.

The Avalanche doesn’t attempt to be everything at once, but rather, two vehicles in one. Great ideas, alas, are often sunk by poor execution. And that’s where the brilliance comes in here.

Behind the Avalanche’s three-person rear seats is a glass window. It is removable. Having removed it (zip-zip), you can stow it in the lower panel, which Chevrolet calls a midgate. Flip the rear seats forward (simply), and you can flip the rear seatbacks and midgate down (easily). In a minute, you have transformed a five- or six-passenger short-bed pickup into a two- or three-passenger (depending on front seat configuration, bench or buckets) pickup capable of accommodating the dreaded 8-foot-long sheets of building materials.

It gets better. The load bed – polymer-lined for weather and load imperviousness – can be left uncovered or transformed into a secure storage area with the included three rigid bed cover panels. These slide into rails on the side of the bed and lock into place with latches on their underside. When all three are in place, it’s the equivalent of having one of those aftermarket secure-but-awkward one-piece rigid covers.

The individual cover sections weight about 20 pounds each. Both the tops and bottoms are labeled with a number molded into the plastic – 1, 2 and 3 – along with a diagram showing where they go. Thanks, Chevy, for thinking of us who, however brilliant and handsome, are utterly inept mechanically. When locked in place, the panels are capable of supporting up to 250 pounds – they’re not exactly coated cardboard.

Those sections will probably most often be stacked in a garage, but they can also be placed in th e included sack and secured to the side of the bed via the hooks and four attachment points provided. The sack even has built-in shock absorbers to keep the panels from flailing against the side.

You can buy a soft tonneau cover with ribs to keep the bed neat, but I can’t quite see why.

The rear liftgate, although massive enough to startle The Administration when she let it flop down, is of polymer construction to make it waterproof, too.

There are two (driver’s-key-lockable) storage compartments built into the sides of the bed, accessible from the top, and surprisingly deep. Chevy suggests they’d make a good place for jumper cables or a toolkit. Noticing that they are polymer-lined and have drain holes, my evil mind conjured a picture of filling them with ice and canned beverages – bound to get an “Awesome, dude,” down at the old campground. So far, so good, but how’s this hoss to ride?

Dandy, thanks. Avalanche is constructed on the Suburban platform, in two series. The “half-ton” 1500 series I tested is the light-duty member of the family, though hardly a Tonka. It weighs a mere 5,600 pounds and can tow up to 8,300 pounds. The “three-quarter-ton” 2500 series weighs 1,000 pounds more and can drag up to 12,000 pounds with proper accessories. It has leaf springs in back, while the little guy gets softer-riding coils. Both series can be had as rear-drive or four-wheel-drive.

Even without a damping load out back, the Avalanche was as smooth-riding as many a sedan, and seemed to pound minor pavement problems into submission. Both series share a 130-inch wheelbase, and that does a lot to eliminate any pitching motion. Despite its bulk, the Avalanche did not feel ponderous (though I did clip a couple of curbs in the early going, and the turning circle is as huge as you might expect).

The 1500 Series rigs are powered by a 5.3-liter overhead-valve aluminum-over-cast-iron V-8. It makes 285 hp and 325 foot-pounds of torque. It felt quite robust, carrying naught but me and air.

The 2500s get one of the oil industry’s favorite engines, an 8-cylinder, 8.1-liter monster motor worth 340 hp and 455 foot-pounds. Serious stuff. I guess the sporty orientation of this machine motivated against a diesel.

EPA ratings for the truck I tested are 13 mpg city, 17 highway. That’s with 4WD and the gas-sucking optional 4.11 axle. My score was 14.5, neither hauling much nor 4-wheelin’ much. At least these engines are content with 87-octane.

Steering is fast and light (perhaps too much so, actually, for one outfitted as an off-road adventurer) and the machine felt stable whether pushing aside freeway air or pounding through a construction zone.

The tester had four-wheel drive, pushbutton operated. In “auto” mode, it functions as an on-demand AWD system, sending power forward as needed on slippery surfaces. It can also be put in full-time RWD or center-differential-locked 4WD for heavy going. There’s also a low-range setting for extra torque multiplication or enhanced engine braking.

High range actuation was scarcely noticeable; heavy clunking was observed when going into or out of low range, as is typical of such.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration crash-tested an Avalanche and gave it only three stars for driver protection and four for co-pilot protection (on its five-star scale) in a 35-mph frontal barrier impact. Side impact tests were not done (Avalanche comes with side air bags for the front compartment). The insurance folks have not yet sacrificed an Avalanche or even a Suburban on the altar of safety.

The Avalanche is assembled at GM’s facility in Silao, Mexico, 558 miles south of Laredo, Texas. Build quality was quite respectable.

The Avalanche comes with all the usual power assists as well as air conditioning and s ome lagniappes in the form of AM-FM-CD stereo, alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with antilock and automatic headlamps. In 1500 Series two-wheel-drive configuration, base price is $30,465. As a 4WD, it goes for three grand more. (I was quite surprised to see that Edmunds says Avalanches typically go for $2,500-$3,000 UNDER sticker – must be that stinking commercial.) The tester had 6-way power driver’s and co-pilot’s seats with leather trim for $1,115; luggage carrier, $195; running boards, $395; convenience package (self-dimming inside rearview mirror, auto climate control, HomeLink transmitter and OnStar communications system), $653, and, for $835, the Z71 off-road package. This includes off-road-style tires (Goodyear Wrangler AT-S), heavy-duty shocks and springs, locking rear differential, skid plates, high-capacity air filter, fancy floor mats and upsized 17-inch alloy wheels. Total, with freight, was $37,503. Payments at that price would be $760, assuming 20 percent down, 10 ercent interest and 48 coupons.

“Gannett News Service

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.3
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.4
  • Exterior styling 4.3
  • Reliability 4.5

Most recent consumer reviews

2.7

Rear rot and rear frame rot

The chevy avalanche is a great vehicle let alone finding a 2500 series mainly to those who are most likely to use it to haul, be advised the rear end is seriously compromised due to rot and even replacement of rear bumper bracket you will be hard pressed to find a solid frame point- severe rear rot

5.0

This car took care of my wife as a hairstylist.

Great Truck, really hate to see it go. Served us well. Have too many vehicles to hold on too at this moment. Called her classic beauty.

5.0

Vehicle is very reliable when going On the beach

I have driven this vehicle 2002 avalanche to Texas Corpus Christi and back had no problems very comfortable long-distance engine perform great drove at least 65 miles an hour

See all 39 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Chevrolet
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
72 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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See all 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche articles