Truth Time: My First Truck
OK. I’ve got a confession to make. Those of you that watched my Facebook Live video already know, but for the rest of you, buckle your safety belts, because what I’m about to tell you might make you fall out of your chair. I just bought my first truck this past June. Yes, it’s true. I’ve been covering and writing about the light truck industry for the majority of my professional life, which now spans more than 15 years. In that entire time, I’ve written literally thousands of articles about, driven, and reviewed scores of trucks and SUVs. Aside from my wife’s ’13 Ford Escape, I’d never personally owned a truck or SUV in my household. As you can imagine, I’ve gotten plenty of ribbing over the years from coworkers about my dirty little secret: the big-shot news editor of the Truck Trend Network drives a midsize sedan (full disclosure: I still own it).
Well, the time has come to rectify the situation, and it can no longer be said that I don’t own a truck. Granted, it’s not a conventional pickup, but it’s body-on-frame, V-8–powered, and has a live rear axle. Last I checked, those are three key bona fides for being considered a truck. As you can see from the photo below, I got myself a Chevy Avalanche. An ’04 “naked” 1500 Z71, to be exact. So predictably, the ribbing from my coworkers hasn’t stopped. Yes, it’s an oddball in the greater realm of truckdom, and I’m OK with that. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd and bow at the altar of convention. A few office mates have made the offhand comment about the Avalanche no longer being “relevant” to Truck Trend’s core audience. Admittedly, the Avalanche and related Cadillac Escalade EXT represent a relatively tiny slice of the GMT800 pie. However, there’s enough parts commonality between the Avalanche and the Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, and Sierra that most of the stories we do on the Avalanche will have relevance to other GMT800 truck or SUV owners, of which we know there are millions out there.
The other reason I got it is the runaway prices of new trucks. Good luck getting a decently equipped 1/2-ton for less than $40,000 now. For that matter, try getting a nice Chevy Colorado or GMC Canyon for that much, diesel or gas. And the HDs? Fugedaboudit. You’re talking around $50k to start, on up to $80,000 for a full-boat Denali, Platinum, or Laramie Longhorn. Yes, the Avalanche has a few miles on it—163,000, to be exact—but I got it for less than $6,000 off Craigslist. A professional mechanic friend of mine did a thorough walkaround and wheels-off inspection, a full OBD-II diagnostic scan, and proclaimed it to be one of the cleanest GMT800 specimens he’d ever seen of that age and mileage.
In terms of where we go with it and what we do with it, I want the buildup and articles to be pertinent, relevant, and useful to the Truck Trend audience. To that end, the first stage will be some of the basics when buying a higher-mileage secondhand truck, such as the brakes, suspension, cooling, and electrical systems, and getting it up to reliable working order. Beyond that, I’ve got a fantasy wish list that may or may not come to fruition. Regardless, I want the underlying theme to be that you don’t have to break the bank to have a fun, useful, reliable, and unique truck and that often times, a well-maintained used truck can be just as smart or a financially smarter decision than committing to a $600-a-month payment on a new truck for seven years. I hope you’ll follow along on my newfound truck journey.