Remember when trucks were regarded as workhorses or construction-site haulers? Today, that simply isn't the case. Last year, the Big Three collectively sold more pickups than cars or sport/utilities. Why? Because trucks are today's go-anywhere/ do-anything-anytime conveyances. They're asked to provide daily transportation to work, haul clients, shuttle the kids, take the whole gang away for weekends in the woods, and haul home-improvement supplies for those honey-do projects. Today's truck buyer demands maximum versatility and function along with the safety, convenience, and entertainment capabilities found only in premium luxury cars a few years back.
From the onset, we knew the Avalanche was a solid Truck of the Year contender. We continually gravitated back to this new Chevy for its potent powertrains, commodious interior, feature content, aggressive styling, workaday capability, and innovative convertible cab.
Available in either 1/2-ton (1500) or 3/4-ton (2500) variations, the Avalanche is based on a three-piece frame that incorporates strong hydroformed components (a process in which chassis members are bent from the inside out via pressurized water, allowing the steel to retain its grain structure). This method allows for precise dimensional control (read: better body panel fit) and greatly reduced chassis flex and twist. We appreciated this technology while traversing numerous bolder-strewn off-road trails.
Power is a hugely important factor in any truck contest. Chevrolet offers two strong Vortec V-8s.
The 1/2-ton receives the 5.3L/285-hp OHV V-8 mated to a smooth-shifting, electronically controlled 4L60-E four-speed automatic. With a torque peak of 325 lb-ft at 4000 rpm (and 90 percent of that available from 1600), the Vortec 5300 gets it done--especially in terms of 0-60-mph acceleration, posting an 8.7-sec time. With ample torque available at such a low rpm range, it also makes the 1/2-ton a capable hauler.
As the saying goes, there's no substitute for cubic inches, and the 2500 Avalanche doesn't disappoint. Motivated by an 8.1L/340-hp OHV V-8--yes, the Big Block Chevy lives--passing an incredible 455 lb-ft of torque (at 3200 rpm) through its 4L85-E four-speed automatic, the Vortec 8100 sounds mean and pulls hard, posting an 8.8-sec time to 60 and a 16.6-sec/ 83.7-mph pass through the quarter-mile. While it's 0.1 sec slower to 60 and 0.1 sec and 0.3 mph slower than its 1500 sibling, the 2500 is also 964 lb heavier (5678 lb versus 6642 lb).