The Avalanche handles well, too, and owes more of its chassis and suspension to the Tahoe/Suburban than it does the standard pickup, and with that comes an additional measure of sophistication. Our One-Year truck was more than able to keep up with fast company, which included an SL55 AMG and a Ferrari 360 Spider, when we visited Mario Andretti's Napa Valley winery last year.

Most of our staff found the interior an inviting place. Senior Editor Ron Sessions says, "The seats are enveloping and supportive and the cloth fabric is attractive, comfortable, and grippy." The flimsy-looking instrument panel left us desiring more, and the lack of useable clothes hooks in the back seat was odd, but those were the only gripes concerning the otherwise hospitable interior.

Unfortunately, the view from the Avalanche's driver seat reveals a less-than-ideal scope out the back window. The truck's high rear deck makes it difficult to see stationary items when reversing or to know what's behind you when in traffic.

The addition of an electronic parking-assist system would greatly enhance maneuverability in parking lots and around driveways.

Those of us who enjoy recreation on two-wheeled transportation (some with engines, some without) found the Avalanche an ideal companion. On several occasions, with the Midgate folded down and the rear window removed, we managed to fit two dirt bikes or up to three mountain bikes in the bed.

Strapped down and loaded with a full tank of gas, the Avalanche's impressive fuel range gave us the option to seek out far-off trails and remote off-highway vehicle areas. Add to that the ability to keep drinks and food cold by filling the two top-box storage compartments with ice, and what you have is the perfect truck for the adventure seeker.

All Avalanches come standard with integrated steps in the rear bumper. This simple, novel touch proved useful time and time again. Our truck's optional runningboards helped with ingress and egress, though they banged some shins and dirtied a few pant legs along the way.