EXPERT REVIEW

PickupTrucks.com's view


The Avalanche from Chevrolet was never conceived to simply fill an existing slot in the automotive marketplace. It was born from the concept that there just might be a better way to achieve more than one goal with a singular vehicle. Many American households currently possess as part of their rolling stock a family sedan, an SUV and a pickup truck — all filling a specific role in the transportational scheme of things, one being better suited for a given task than another member of the family stable. Wouldn’t it be great, thought the folks at Chevrolet, if one vehicle could deliver on all fronts? Indeed it would — a vehicle capable of comfortably transporting five adults in comfort, with their gear. A vehicle suited for basic transportation, heavy work duty, or for recreational use. A vehicle at home on city streets, super highways or adventuring off road. The race was on to deliver the Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) — or a better mousetrap if you will. In fact, the Avalanche project took a mere 24 months to move from concept to fruition.

The Avalanche’s makeup consisted primarily of Suburban DNA, borrowing nearly 85 percent of its parts from the king of SUV’s supply bins. One might want to think of the Avalanche as a Suburban with a pickup bed replacing the enclosed third row seating area, but in reality it was, and still is much more than that. It is truly the Ultimate Utility Vehicle with literally more then 24 thousand variable configuration possibilities — more on that later.

Where Suburban is considered the “King of SUVs”, the segment-busting Avalanche was destined to be crowned the “King of Adaptability”. It is not a niche vehicle, but a new vehicle creating a new segment in the marketplace.

The Avalanche has definitely achieved a wide acceptance since its introduction, and it is even better now than when it first debuted, adorned with somewhat unattractive cladding. For 2007 models, the Bowtie team has redesigned the exterior with wraparound fascias, and improved aerodynamics, along with refining the interior with less noise and improved seating comfort. The chassis is stronger, providing a smoother ride quality and better handling characteristics, with a new family of Gen IV V-8 engines providing power.

Standard power for the Avalanche will come from a 5.3 liter Vortec 5300 V8 engine producing 320 horsepower @ 5200 rpm and 340 pound feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. Power is delivered to the driving wheels via an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with automatic overdrive and a torque converter clutch. 2WD models will feature traction control, while 4WD models will employ the electronic Autotrac 4WD on demand system featuring 2wd Hi, 4WD Hi, 4 WD Lo and fully automatic electronic pushbutton settings, whose upper ranges may be operated “on-the-fly.

The heart and soul of the Chevy Avalanche though, is its innovative reconfigurable, Convert-a-cab mid-gate system. The rear glass is easily removed and stowed in the rear bulkhead (mid-gate) which folds flat atop the foldable split rear seats to extend the cargo box. With the tailgate down and the mid-gatelowered, Avalanche will accommodate a 10 foot long load. If a person were to complete a single configuration per day, there are enough variants to last for many years.

The bed features a lockable, removable Pro-Tec composite tailgate that is 15 percent longer, lockable side rail storage boxes and a lockable rigid bed cover consisting of three panels weighing 20 lbs. each, that may be removed individually — the TPO shell, foam-filled panels are capable of supporting up to a 250 pound load. The bed also provides built in grab handles at each rear corner with steps integrated into the rear bumper for easy bed level access along with two tier loading, 8 tie-downs and cargo box illumination.

The Avalanche takes on the new look of Chevrolet with a new hood, grille and lighting system while retaining the unique styling aft of the “C” pillar. A TPO polymer cladding surrounds the entire vehicle and is incorporated in the construction of the distinctive sail panel attached to the rear of the cab, and the bed rail storage boxes as well as the lock and tailgate handle housing.

The latter may need some rethinking for improved security, as the lock cylinder is anchored in the polymer material. A single key works for all locks, including the ignition. The overall look of Avalanche is big, as in really big, bold and aggressive.

My test Chevrolet K1500 Series 4WD Avalanche in LT trim sported a Graystone metallic exterior, with a Titanium leather interior. The base price was set at $35,295 while a boatload of extras boosted the final total to $45,814.

SUMMARY:

The Chevrolet Avalanche LT 4WD is distinctive and impressive in both its appearance and in its performance. It provides a surprisingly comfortable ride on or off-road (in either the front or rear seats), loaded or unloaded, and tracks exceptionally well. Acceleration comes without hesitation and it brakes well to boot. The Active Fuel Management system and E85 Ethanol capability provides impressive fuel economy.

Handling characteristics exceed expectations, and after climbing up into, and behind the wheel, one soon forgets the Avalanche’s overall mass. The driving experience is really quite pleasant, though parallel parking requires a more focused concentration due to the bed height with the rigid cover panels in place.

The key elements and attributes of the Avalanche continue to be versatility and functionality. Individualists will appreciate the offerings for this highly desirable truck from GM’s Service and Parts Operation (SPO) for adding a custom touch in personalizing their Avalanche — available accessories include a host of useful equipment and features for lifestyle enhancement. The Avalanche is still a winner.

TEST VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS:

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LT 4WD

Base Price: $35,295

Price as Tested: $45,814

Engine Type and Size: 5.3-liter Vortec 5300 V8

Horsepower (bhp): 320 @ 5200 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 340 @ 4200 rpm

Transmission: Electronically controlled Hydra-Matic 4L60, 4-speed automatic with automatic overdrive and a torque converter clutch

Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive/ Autotrac 4WD on demand four-wheel drive system

Suspension: Front – Independent with torsion bars. Rear – 5-Link, coil spring

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with front aluminum dual piston calipers and four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS)

Tires: Bridgestone Dueler Alenza P275/55R20 steel belt radials mounted on five-spoke aluminum wheels

Wheelbase: 130.0 inches

Length Overall: 221.3 inches

Width: 79.1 inches

Curb Weight: 5,645 lbs

Fuel Capacity: 31.5 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: Not listed

0 – 60 mph: Not tested

Approach Angle 16.64 degrees

Departure Angle: 20.31degrees

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