With large vehicle sales continuing to stall due to unstable fuel prices, Chevrolet has felt a substantial hit in its full-size trucks. But, the all-new, and more efficient Tahoe and Suburban SUV’s did soften the blow. That total remake also extended to a third model, the ultra-flexible Avalanche. With trimmer styling, and e85 ethanol capability, this SUV/Pickup crossover should help to reverse the trend.
Part people mover, part workhorse, and part weekend warrior, the all-new 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche has rumbled onto the landscape trimmer and smarter than ever. Like the original 2002 Avalanche, the second generation effort is a 6-passsenger Suburban-based crew-cab pickup. It shares the same 130-inch wheelbase with a slightly shorter overall length of 221.3 inches. It also shares the Suburban’s bold but now nearly seamless wraparound fascia with expressive jewel-like headlamp clusters and a recognizable bow-tie twin-slot grille. A more aggressive Z71 package has just been added.
While a fast-rake windshield shows newfound aerodynamics, it is the elimination of body cladding that makes this Avalanche appear trimmer. And, allows the standard 17-inch wheels to standout. Available polished 20-inch alloys grant a truly commanding stance.
But what defines the Avalanche the most has remained intact, with improvements. Beyond the new central locking tailgate, which is also now spring loaded for easier use, is an ultra-versatile 50-inch wide bed punctuated with molded tread-like grip tracks.
The bed side walls once again are lockable storage compartments, with drain holes, so they double as ice coolers. The three-panel hard cover also returns to transform the bed into a secured trunk. And of course, at the head of it all is the Avalanche’s most innovative feature, an easier to use Midgate. Hinged at the floor, it opens into the rear seat area, extending the 5 feet, 3 inch bed to a full 8 feet, 1 inch. To accommodate long-tall cargo like a motorcycle, the rear glass can be removed and stored in the Midgate.
Climb inside for a newly refined cabin focused on comfort and luxury. Also borrowed from the Suburban, the handsome wood-trimmed dash is home to well-configured gauges and nearly flush controls. Standards include power driver’s seat, tilt wheel, with stereo controls, CD audio, dual-zone climate control, OnStar, and tire pressure monitoring.
Upgrades include remote start, a sunroof, touch screen navigation, backup camera, DVD entertainment system, and side curtain airbags with rollover sensor. When not folded for the mid-gate, the thicker 60/40 split-rear seats offer wide room and comfort for three.
Moving under the hood, our LT 4X4 drew power from GM’s aluminum-block Vortec 5.3 liter V-8. Output is 310 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. This 5.3 is also E85 Ethanol capable. A 6-liter 366-horsepower V8 with Variable Valve Timing is also available. Striving for efficiency both eights use Active Fuel Management cylinder cutoff for better economy.
Government fuel economy ratings are a respectable 15 city/20 highway. Our test loop came in at a still big truck 15 miles per gallon on regular gas.
On the track, our truck managed 0-60 in 9.8 seconds. It clocked the quarter mile in 17.3 seconds at 84 mph. Powerful yes, yet clearly heavy off the line. Shifts are firm and direct for the 4-speed automatic, but come somewhat earlier then you expect.
Arguably, one of the biggest Avalanche improvements is its ride. Underpinned by the new GMT900 full-size truck chassis with its wider, fully boxed perimeter frame, this well-planted truck offers a stiffer front-end and a more stable driving experience.
A capable independent front suspension and five-link solid-axle rear suspension promote smoother handling. Stability control is standard, while the LTZ includes adjustable shocks and load leveling. The new rack and pinion steering is lighter and quicker but still with minimal feedback. Stopping is by way of 4-wheel ABS disc brakes. But straight and steady halts from 60 to 0 were long at 151 feet.
Pricing for the Avalanche swings wide across three different trims. The base LS starts at $32,865, LT at $33,570, while the top-level LTZ lists at $40,305. But there are plenty of options to pile on as our LT Tester stickered at a lofty $46,235.
GM’s redesign of the 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche is both smart and discretionary. Maintaining the superb flexibility of both an SUV and pickup, this innovative crossover has also joined the war against high fuel prices. That kind of mindfulness combined with greatly upgraded aesthetics and comfort, makes the rugged Avalanche concept even more appealing.
Engine: Aluminum-block Vortec 5.3 Liter V-8
Torque: 335 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 9.8 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 17.3 Seconds @ 84 MPH
60-0 MPH: 151 Feet
EPA: 15 MPG City/ 20 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 15 MPG