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Introduced for the 2002 model year, the Chevrolet Avalanche was innovative as it offered owners the ability to remove the rear window and fold down the panel below it (called the "mid-gate") for access to the rear interior cabin. However, the hate-it or love-it design has not been able to find a loyal customer base and waning sales numbers have persuaded General Motors to make 2013 the last model year for Avalanche (and its sister model, the Cadillac Escalade EXT) production.
In honor of what Chevy calls “12 years of Verified Versatility”, the automaker will offer all trims (LS, LT, and LTZ) in a special Black Diamond edition that boasts body-color exterior components and unique badging. The interior, in LTZ trim, is as luxurious as there exists in truck cabs and if the rear is not being used for comfortably fitting three adults, it can be rearranged to offer the utility of an eight-foot truck bed.
Furthermore, the handling is closer to a Suburban than a Silverado, which means less spinning tires when the bed is empty. A 5.3L Vortec V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission provides 320 HP and 335 lb-ft. of torque while delivering 15/21 mpg city/highway, which is near the top of the crew-cab market, especially for the four-wheel drive model. Always important to note with any truck, the Chevrolet claims 8,100 lbs of towing capability.
More specifically an SUT (Sport Utility Truck), the Avalanche’s direct competition has dwindled over the years as other automakers have pulled out of the segment. The Honda Ridgeline is also called an SUT but has capacities that aren’t near the Avalanche’s. The Ford F-150, America’s best-selling truck, does not offer the versatility of a mid-gate but is available in a crew-cab configuration with a plush interior. There are also F-150 models that offer eight-foot beds but you’ll have to sacrifice the roomy rear seat. Another truck to consider if passenger comfort is of priority is the Ram 1500. Though again, not offering the flexibility of the Chevrolet, the Ram in its Laramie trim is exceptionally luxurious. Plus the 1500 is known for offering a ride at the top of the half-ton truck segment.
Though on its last leg, the Avalanche remains the go-to truck for buyers loading a combination of passengers and cargo.
Though the base trim in the Avalanche lineup, the LS still packs a bevy of features. Starting with premium cloth seats, the interior standards include rear vision camera, power adjustable pedals and rearview auto-dimming mirror. Entertainment features equipped are a CD/MP3 player and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a three-month trial. There is also a USB port and Bluetooth wireless technology. OnStar is available for six months as a part of Chevrolet’s Directions & Connections Plan. The exterior receives body-color components, foglamps and 17” aluminum wheels. Side-view mirrors are heated and power adjustable on the LS as well.
If you prefer sliding into a leather-seating surface, then move up to the LT to get that option standard. In addition to or replacing features on the LS, LT owners are treated to heated, six-way power front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. A seven-speaker Bose sound system helps with audio and automatic locking rear differentials help with performance. Separate from the locking differentials, an off-road suspension package labeled Z71 is available only on the LT trim with specially tuned springs and gas charged shocks. Also equipped are front and rear wheel flares and 18” aluminum wheels. An appearance package designed to add an aggressive look includes a unique front fascia and chrome grille insert.
All the bells and whistles go into Chevrolet’s top trim, the LTZ. Appointed leather seats are now perforated and have 12-way power plus an added cooling function to go along with the heat. Media upgrades consist of SiriusXM NavTraffic with a three-month trial, eight-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound system, and Navigation radio with rear vision camera. Other comforts added to the LTZ include a heated steering wheel and universal home remote. Side-view mirrors are now power-folding plus they offer ground illumination at night. 20” polished-aluminum wheels set the exterior apart, as does the bright chrome grille inserts, door handles, bodyside molding and mirror caps.