What's New, What's Changed
The Avalanche got easier on the eyes in 2003 when Chevy introduced a version employing conventional wheel arches, sans body cladding (apparently, we weren't the only ones to gripe). Last model year also brought StabiliTrak stability assist on 2WD trucks, adjustable pedals, XM Satellite Radio, and a battery rundown system that'll shut the headlights off in case you forget.
For 2004, horsepower increased by 10 to 295 in the 5.3-liter trucks, but dropped by 20 to 320 in the 8.1-liter engines. 2004 Avalanches are offered with standard Hydroboost brakes that continue to work even if the engine ceases to.
From the Logbook
Doesn't sweat much for a plus-size contraption. Really, despite the Avalanche's generous proportions, it drives smaller than it is. The pushrod Chevy small-block V-8 and four-speed automatic are a happy combination: great low- and mid-range torque, smooth throttle tip-in and crisp shifts.
The steering is a bit light and lacks much on-center feel at speeds over 50 mph, but this also results in low effort at slow speeds and makes parking-lot navigation a breeze.
The Avalanche is the best of both worlds: It rides like a cushy Suburban and hauls like a Silverado 1500. I had the opportunity to drive the Silverado, Tahoe, and the Avalanche all in the same week, and I would by far choose the Avalanche over the other two for my own needs.
The outboard storage bins are handy for collecting trash while tailgating at the ballpark, though the tailgate itself is heavy and a handful to lower gently with one hand if the other is occupied.