Test: 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche
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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.
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.
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