Note: The review contained within this article covers the
Avalanche concept truck, not a production model, and as such the
reader should not be too concerned with issues related to fit
and finish so much as the overall impression we came away with
of the truck.
week PickupTruck.Com had the opportunity to drive the Avalanche
concept truck in the hill country located between the serene backdrop
of Malibu and the frenetic freeways of Los Angeles.
was first shown in Detroit during the North American International
Auto Show in January. And love
it or hate it, the bold styling of the Avalanche sets it apart
from the rest of the truck crowd when it comes to looks and functionality.
Set to enter
into production for the 2002 model year, what you see is very
close to what you will get when the first trucks are delivered
early in 2001. The aggressive 'bow tie power bar' and beveled
profile cuts right into the landscape - or the attention of whatever
members of the public are nearby - as the Avalanche rumbles through.
And rumble it does on its large aluminum 18" wheels.
consumers are just getting used to the additional utility offered
by four door pickup trucks, GM takes it to the next level with
the Avalanche. Its Convert-a-Cab access system, featuring what
Chevrolet calls the Midgate, adds a new dimension to the vehicle
by allowing direct access to the bed from the truck's cabin.
the latest generation Suburban with an open bed, the Avalanche
shares some 90% of its parts with its SUV sibling. GM calls the
Avalanche an Ultimate Utility Vehicle.
as we proceed. It's funny to think that in a truck that probably
cost in the neighborhood of $1M dollars to build you would get
an invincible vehicle able to handle any terrain thrown at it,
but in reality the concept version of the Avalanche is quite delicate.
Meant more for show than for go. So we used a lot of caution while
driving the truck because we sure as heck didn't want to be known
as the ones who caused any damage to Chevy Truck's crown jewel.
Still, we did take enough away from the drive to realize that
this concept isn't too far off from reality.
thing we did was seize the opportunity to try out the Midgate
system. The Midgate is easily operated by a single person and
consists of two parts - a removable rear window and fold down
practice run we were able to perform the first half of the Convert-a-Cab
operation in less than a minute. The rear seats were folded forward
and removing the window was a snap. Two handles set in the ceiling
were unlatched and the glass quickly unseated. Stowing the glass
is a little awkward however. We didn't want to break the thin,
light piece of glass and it took a small leap of faith to place
the rear window in its molded cradle, inset in the fold down door
on the side facing the floor. Chevrolet may have a brisk business
selling replacement glass for this rear window with drivers who
are not cautious. Turning a latch on the fold down door and pulling
it forward we were all set to access the bed.
part was a little trickier. Once again the fold down door was
easy and light enough to manage - it was quickly lifted and placed
upright. Seating the window and engaging the handles used to hold
it in place took an extra 20 seconds or so compared to removing
the glass. The positioning of the handles on the Avalanche made
it a little difficult to judge when they were in the right place
and the glass didn't want to seat itself just right without some
Midgate is down and the rear window stowed the passengers and
interrior of the truck will be somewhat exposed to the elements
of mother nature. The production model will have an advanced water
drainage system to keep water from the bed from entering the cab.
The concept Avalanche had a durable, easily washable interrior
floor that looked like the rugged tread from the bottom of a hiking
boot. It would be nice to see this make it into production for
times when the elements cannot be kept out.
agreed that the Converta-a-Cab is a great new feature to have
on a vehicle like the Avalanche and any small issues we encountered
are sure to be fixed well before the truck enters production.
Note: In the near future PickupTruck.Com
will have video footage to download demonstrating our experience
with the Midgate and Convert-a-Cab.
to the Midgate system the Avalanche had an easily removable three
piece water-tight bed cover to protect its contents from mother
nature and also any would be passers by looking for a five finger
discount. The production model will provide the option to store
this cover in the bed of the truck, though this functionality
was not present on the concept version. This durable water-tight
cover provides the world's largest trunk that will easily convert
into a bed large enough to carry all the building supplies you
need, covered or uncovered.
to the bed of the truck, it had lots of room and its composite
PRO-TEC lining seemed more than durable enough for most loads.
The top box storage in the rear quarter panels were quite nice
and very deep. We could see how they might be used to store everything
from camping gear and tools to being used as an ice cooler for
drinks and food during trips to the lake.
the Avalanche to take a drive, its aggressive exterior was offset
by its relatively conservative interior, aside from the custom
leather seats designed and stitched together by the North Face
of GM's current full-sized truck interior with elements from the
GMC Sierra Professional Concept spliced in, the white and gray
colored instruments were logically arranged and had a uniquely
stylized look and feel for the Avalanche.
A first in
the GM truck line, the Avalanche had an in-dash multifunction
LCD that was inoperable during our drive. The LCD is supposed
to offer Radio, cell phone, OnStar interface and more in the production
key on the Vortec 5300 offered access to the 285 horsepower /
325 lb-ft of torque engine. We eased onto the Mulholland highway
and headed for the hills.
stuck out on the road with the Avalanche. First, the Avalanche
felt more like a Suburban than a pickup truck. We arrived at our
meeting spot for the Avalanche drive in a 3/4-ton Silverado extended
cab 4x4, so we jumped into the Avalanche with the stiff ride of
the Silverado implanted in our minds. Don't get us wrong. We liked
the Silverado, but unloaded it rode the highway harshly. The Avalanche
in contrast felt pretty nicely balanced front and rear - not surprisingly
with its four doors. Second, we noticed the loud noise from the
custom show tires even at moderate speeds around 30mph, but don't
expect to see these on the production truck. Guaranteed, the production
Avalanche will wear a more modest set of rubber and wheels.