Chevrolet Avalanche Performance
The Avalanche's performance is good for a truck, but car-buyers trading up for the first time might be disappointed. A stiffer frame and new suspension and steering systems, acquired during a 2007 redesign, help somewhat but reviewers still complain about an anemic engine and lackluster handling. Towing and hauling capabilities are high points, however.
- "On good roads the suspension absorbs most imperfections, delivering an almost cushiony ride but not at the expense of control or security, and the Avalanche takes curves with a high level of stability." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Aside from its power and competency as a truck, the Avalanche offers poor handling, a ponderous ride, and a genuine thirst for fuel." -- Autobytel
Acceleration and Power
The Avalanche comes one engine, a 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management. Most reviewers say the engine is fine for in-town driving, but its performance on the highway leaves feels slow. The Avalanche's engine features cylinder deactivation technology for increased fuel economy. It automatically shuts down four cylinders when they are not needed, like when the vehicle is cruising at speed or coasting. All engines are paired with a Hydra-Matic six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive that reviewers like.
- The 5.3-liter engine is "good around town," but "has only adequate highway passing power." -- Consumer Guide
- "Thrust and fuel economy dip noticeably when the truck is being used to carry a load of passengers or cargo."-- Edmunds
- "The sprint to 60 mph still required a merely adequate 8.3 seconds." -- Car and Driver
- Gas mileage is "No better than any other big truck, 12 or 13 mpg around town, despite GM's 'active fuel-management' feature." -- USA Today
- The transmission is "among the best in the business -- it offers buttery-smooth shifts that are often imperceptible." -- Cars.com
- The transmission "shifts in an easy and positive manner, with a brief delay for acceleration to pass or merge." -- Kelley Blue Book
Handling and Braking
The Avalanche's steering, ride and handling get mixed reviews with some complaining about a lack of road feel and floaty handling. However, the brakes are well-liked.
- "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." -- PickupTruck.com
- The steering "still lacks much in the way of feedback." -- Cars.com
- The steering "lacks road feel, and the floaty ride becomes even more pronounced as the body rolls in even slow-speed corners." -- Autobytel
- The brakes are "responsive, with short, firm pedal stroke," -- Consumer Guide
The Avalanche comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive with low-range gearing is available. The 4WD on-demand system features several modes operated with a dial on the dashboard. A special Z71 Off-Road package, optional on LT2 and LT3 models, includes Z71 suspension, 18-inch wheels, on-/off-road tires, automatic locking rear differential, high-pressure shocks and a Skid Plate Package that helps protect the undercarriage.
- The 4WD system "can detect slippage and send power up front, not unlike an all-wheel-drive system. Lest you think it's best to leave it there all the time (as I did for the better part of a week), be warned that there's a (slight) gas mileage penalty compared with the two-wheel-drive mode." -- Cars.com
Reviewers love the Avalanche's hauling capabilities. While it's not the best choice if you own a construction company, the Avalanche can handle most of the loads weekend warriors throw at it, thanks to its innovative midgate design. With the midgate in place, the Avalanche fits five or six passengers (depending on if you have the standard front bench or optional front bucket seats) and features a short cargo box measuring 5.3 feet. With the midgate folded down or removed and the rear seat folded, the truck has room for two or three passengers in the front seat, but extends the cargo box to 8.2 feet. Reviewers love its versatility. Hauling capacity for the 2WD Avalanche is 1,408 pounds and 1,487 pounds for the 4WD
- "A workhorse for routine hauling." -- Auto Mall USA.
- The midgate gives the Avalanche "a degree of versatility that's absent from traditional pickups." -- Kelley Blue Book
When properly equipped, the 2WD Avalanche's 5.3-liter engine can tow up to 7,200 pounds, or 7,000 pounds with the 4WD. Reviewers are suitably impressed with the Avalanche's towing numbers.