in 2011 Full Size Pickup Trucks

Avg. Price Paid: $24,253 - $33,815
Original MSRP: $36,300 - $49,500
MPG: 15 City / 21 Hwy
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2011 Chevrolet Avalanche Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Even though the Avalanche is labeled a Sport Utility Truck, its performance seems to be more trucklike than sport-ute. It has great towing and hauling capacities, and is even a capable off-roader, but reviewers say its ride isn’t smooth enough for most SUV shoppers. Overall, its 5.3-liter V8 engine is adequate but unimpressive. Journalists also have a hard time maneuvering the Avalanche in heavy traffic, parking lots, and crowded city streets because of its large size and poor visibility.

The EPA estimates that both the two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Avalanche gets 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, which is better for most SUVs and trucks of this size, especially those with four-wheel drive. This is likely due to Chevrolet’s Active Fuel Management system, which deactivates up to four cylinders if they’re not being used. Plus, the Avalanche can use E85 ethanol fuel and achieve fuel economy ratings of 11/16 mpg city/highway. While this may sound low, it’s typical for gas mileage to decrease when a vehicle uses ethanol instead of gasoline.

Opting for 4WD instead of the standard 2WD adds about $3,000 to the Avalanche’s base price, but reviewers say the Avalanche’s new two-speed transfer case and automatic locking rear differential offer plenty of grunt to keep drivers from getting stuck. The 4WD LT model offers the $1,535 Z71 Off-Road Suspension Package, which reviewers say makes the Avalanche even more capable in the mud and snow.

  • "Available with rear- or four-wheel-drive, the Avalanche rides and handles like a truck and gets poor fuel mileage.” -- Motor Trend 
  • "Smooth ride quality, decent steering and brake feel, but its responses are ponderous. Best kept on the interstate.” -- Car and Driver 

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers say that overall, the Avalanche’s 5.3-liter Vortec V8 engine is adequate. This engine is the Avalanche’s only available powerplant, and puts 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission.

  • "Acceleration is more than adequate at all speeds, aided by the smooth-shifting transmission. There's no noticeable difference between rear- and 4WD models, despite the latter being heavier.” -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Without a full load, the 5.3-liter V8 under the hood of the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche gives the big truck better-than-average acceleration.” -- Edmunds 
  • "If gas mileage is a major concern, you might be better off with a different sort of vehicle, because the Avalanche is not frugal, even with the Active Fuel Management System." -- Kelley Blue Book 

Handling and Braking

As is expected for a big truck, the Avalanche loses points with the automotive press because it’s difficult to maneuver. However, it redeems itself with a relatively tight turning radius. Reviewers note its surprisingly smooth ride and strong brakes.

  • “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 
  • "Needless to say, reviewers credit the LTZ for having the most comfortable ride of the three trim levels, though most agree that even the lower trims demonstrate a surprising competence in dealing with all but the roughest roads.” -- Car Gurus
  • "The steering has good feel, though effort is somewhat high during low-speed maneuvers. The brakes are responsive, with a short, firm pedal stroke. Avalanche, a long truck with a sizable turning radius, is a challenge to park in tight spaces.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "As with all big trucks, the Avalanche's main downside is its plus-sized dimensions, which can make it a handful in heavy traffic and tight spaces.” -- Edmunds 

Towing and Hauling

Reviewers praise the Avalanche's towing and hauling capabilities.  While it's not the best choice if you’re a contractor looking for a heavy duty workhorse, the Avalanche can easily handle most tasks that weekend warriors send its way. It has a capable four-wheel drive system, its 5.3-liter V8 can tow up to 8,100 pounds, and can haul a payload of up to 1,598 pounds. With the midgate in place, the Avalanche features a short cargo box measuring 5.3 feet. Fold the midgate and the rear seat, and the cargo box extends to 8.2 feet.

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