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2007-2013 Chevy Avalanche Review







The Chevrolet Avalanche and its cousin, Cadillac Escalade EXT were introduced for the 2002 model year and continued in production until 2013.  Both models were discontinued after the 2013 production run due to a steady decline in sales in the last couple years of production.  The Avalanche platform was marketed as a Sport Utility Truck and was the first of its kind to hit the market.  Basically the Avalanche is a crew cab pick up truck with a few unique features.  The main unique feature of the Avalanche is the folding mid-gate behind the rear seat which effectively converts the truck into a long box pick up truck.  Other key features include a removable rear window, 3 piece rugged plastic tonneau cover and lockable side storage on each side of the box.  This design could quite possibly be the ultimate outdoorsman vehicle as it is ideal for hunting, fishing and camping.  This article will address the 2007 to 2013 models but the 2002-2006 models are very similar with the only real differences being body style & interior change, discontinued plastic body cladding and the introduction of Active Fuel Management and Flex Fuel capabilities in 2007.  The main features of the Avalanche platform (folding mid-gate, tonneau cover and bed side storage) are the same.


The 2007-2013 Avalanche platform body and interior closely resembles the 2007+ Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon SUVs, all of which were the first GM vehicles to have the body style change in 2007.  The pick up trucks did not see the body style change until mid year 2007.  This new body style also permanently discontinued the gray plastic body cladding found on most first generation Avalanches.  The cladding was originally intended to give a visual distinction between the Avalanche and other GM trucks and SUVs as well as give a more rugged appearance.  It did not take long for customers to dislike the cladding due to fading and discoloring from sunlight exposure.  Starting mid way thru the year in 2003, Avalanches were able to be ordered without the plastic body cladding until the 2007 body change when GM dropped the body cladding all together.  I'm on the fence with the cladding.  I like the fact that it does offer some protection to the lower side of the body from stone chips, sticks, branches, etc.  I do not like the fact that it is known to fade and discolor.  In the end it is personal preference for the person looking to buy an Avalanche.  Another change for 2007 and newer models was the 3/4 ton Avalanche 2500 that was available in the first generation was discontinued for the 2007 and newer model years along with the 8.1 liter, 496 cubic inch big block V8. 


Interior option packages are the same as Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban.  Some of the more common options are moonroof, heated leather seats, navigation, DVD system, Bose stereo system, 20" wheels among others.  2007 also introduced new optional features such as remote start, back up camera, updated navigation system, adjustable pedals, park assist and heated windshield washer fluid.  Remote start equipped vehicles allow remote starting via the key fob as long as you are within about 100 feet or so of the vehicle.  GM took the remote start a step further and integrated heat & A/C functions.  When you activate the remote start, the vehicle will turn on the heater or air conditioning based on the outside temperature and if equipped, the driver side heated seat will turn on also.  2007 was also the introduction of the LTZ trim level for the Avalanche.  The LTZ level was the top of the line trim level which included many high end features such as wood grain trim accents, leather seats, Bose sound system, etc.  The finish of the interior plastic trim and stereo buttons  seems to be better than previous years with chipping less of an issue.  The seats seem to be more durable as well with seam splitting and tears not as common.  The finish on the inner part of the steering wheel wears off though but is not much of a distraction.  Interior storage is plentiful like the GM SUVs of the same era.  The glove compartment is typical in size and center console equipped models have a good sized storage compartment.  The front doors have storage pockets on the bottom as well as integrated cup holders at the front of the storage pockets.  The rear has a fold down cup holder with storage in the middle of the seat.  Storage under the rear seat is decent and probably a bit more room than the GM crew cab pick up trucks due to the different design of the rear seat but you lose that storage when you fold the seats down to put the midgate down.  So if you have items stowed under the rear seat and plan to use the midgate, you better have a back up plan for storing those items.  You can also easily access and store items behind the rear seats because they fold down.  This is nice for snow brushes and similar items that are long or don't get used much.  There is plenty of room under the seat to keep jumper cables, small tool kit, blanket, flash light, tow strap, snow brush and a few other items.  So if you are taking a long trip or don't plan on using the midgate any time soon, take advantage of the storage under the rear seat.



The ride quality is the same or better as Silverado/Sierra pick up trucks and the suspension is nearly identical.  Towing/hauling capabilities are about the same as the 1/2 ton Silverado and Sierra trucks.  The Z71 off-road package was updated for the second generation Avalanche. This package included off-road shocks, automatic locking rear differential, aluminum skid plates, wheel flares and Z71 decals.  The trademark Avalanche mid-gate is very easy to operate and very useful.  So easy that a young child with no automotive knowledge can operate it with simple instructions.  The rear window removes easily and locks into place in a dedicated storage area of the mid-gate which allows you to drive with the rear window removed.  Chevy was smart enough to think ahead and they actually put a little clip in the roof to catch the rear window if you unlatched it and accidently let go of the window.  The window will just fall forward a couple inches and hit the clip which will hold it in place.  Simple, yet ingenious idea.  To use the mid-gate you simply remove the rear window, fold the lower portion of the rear seat forward, fold the upper portion of the rear seat down and then fold the mid-gate down.  Now the box of the truck is extended to the back of the front seats.  The entire box of the truck is covered with durable plastic.  The Avalanche specific tonneau cover is a 3 piece hard plastic unit that is heavy duty and virtually eliminates any possibility of water entering the pick up box.  The cover removes and installs in 3 pieces with each piece locking into place.  The locking outside storage wells on each side of the box is an ingenious idea and the first of its kind to hit the truck market.  These storage wells make use of a portion of normally wasted space in the box behind the wheel well.  These are not just meant for storage either.  These wells are somewhat insulated and have a drain hole at the bottom so they can be used as coolers.  Features like this is what makes the Avalanche a top contender for the ultimate outdoorsman vehicle.


Available engines were a Flex-fuel 320hp 5.3 liter V8 and a less common 366hp 6.0 liter V8.  Both engines featured Active Fuel Management which shuts down cylinders under light load to increase fuel economy.  The 6.0 liter option was discontinued in 2010.  Even though the 5.3 liter is rated at 320hp, the truck feels under powered which could be attributed to the gear ratio.  Fuel economy is not great either.  I fully expected to see highway mileage to be better than earlier pick ups and SUVs due to the Active Fuel Management, rear window sail panel and tonneau cover but that was not the case.  At best the Avalanche was equal to pick up trucks and SUVs, if not a bit less mpg.  Although I was slightly disappointed with the mileage, it definitely would not discourage me from buying another Avalanche.  As someone who enjoys the outdoors, the features of this vehicle make it easy to forget about the less than expected fuel economy.






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