At first glance, it seemed as if Pontiac snuck into the Chevy Truck design studios and sprinkled Aztek dust all over the concept drawings of the Avalanche. Our worst fear of an Aztek-based design theme influencing other GM products seemed to be coming true. Then we drove Chevy's newest truck, and suddenly the "out there" styling was much easier to swallow. In fact, the innovative practicality and industry-first Midgate, along with the vehicle's impressive ride and towing capability won it Motor Trend's 2002 Truck of the Year award and an invite into our long-term fleet. Optioned with leather seats, sunroof, OnStar, and electronic climate control, our Victory Red Avalanche rang in at $35,171.

Motor Trend Senior Road Test Editor Chris Walton was easily able to squeeze 1000 pounds of decorative rock into the bed with the Midgate down. The skeptical employees of the home-improvement store were thoroughly impressed, as were we. While not everyone is charmed with its look, there's no denying its utility.