The Avalanche's bed, reminiscent of the long-departed El Camino, is 5 feet 3 inches long. But drop its most significant feature-the "midgate"-and fold the second-row seats, and you've got an 8-foot bed that doesn't have to be made. The removeable rear window pops out and can be stowed in the rear seatback, much like a roof panel on the previous-generation Corvette could be removed and stowed in its trunk area.

The three-piece modular cargo cover can be completely or partially removed, the panels stowed on board. When erected, the cargo cover holds 250 pounds, providing stowage area for dirty toys, as well as access to the roof rack. Integral steps on the bumper and hand-holds aid entry to this area. Lockable storage bins are located ahead of and behind the rear wheelwells.

Price will be more than an extended-cab Silverado, but less than a Suburban. Chevy expects to sell 100,000 Avalanches each year, an aggressive estimate, considering the Suburban and GMC Yukon XL will combine for only about 175,000 units in 2000.

The idea for the Avalanche was born when Chevrolet's market research showed that pickup owners use their truck's beds less than 25 percent of the time. Translated: Most pickup owners use their trucks as if they were SUVs. Well, most SUV owners use their vehicles as minivans. Fortunately, no law requires that vehicle purchases must be logical.

You've got six months to decide: Is the Avalanche a pickup or a sport/ute?