Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chevrolet Avalanche


The Chevy Avalanche has been redesigned and re-engineered for 2007 and the new version is vastly superior to its predecessor. The new Avalanche rewards its driver with taut handling. It's well designed throughout with impressive attention to detail. The previous-generation Avalanche was good. This new one is better.

The Avalanche is and always has been one of a kind. It successfully combines the hauling capacity of a long-bed pickup with the comfort of a five-passenger sport utility vehicle. It switches between these roles using its ingenious Midgate, a removable rear bulkhead between the passenger compartment and the pickup bed. Along with a hard, tonneau-like bed cover, the Midgate allows the Avalanche to be configured as a Tahoe-sized sport utility with a short bed. Fold down the rear seats and open the Midgate and it's like a pickup with an enclosed eight-foot bed, capable of securing valuable gear from thieves or shielding drywall from weather. Remove the rear glass and the tonneau panels and it's a sporty, open-air truck capable of hauling an ATV.

For 2007, none of this practicality changes, including, for the most part, its workhorse capabilities. The Avalanche offers an 8,000-pound towing capacity, making it an excellent choice for towing an enclosed car trailer or a fairly big boat. It's as long as a Chevy Suburban and can haul a lot of stuff, with payloads over 1,300 pounds and a bed designed for abuse.

Handling and ride quality are greatly improved, thanks to updated underpinnings. The previous-generation Avalanche handled well for a truck its size, but this new one handles much better.

A major redesign gives the cab a more car-like look and feel, with a classier dash and more comfortable seats. Combined with better-integrated driver-assist and entertainment features, the creature comfort upgrades are as welcome as the modernized mechanicals. Also, the Midgate, removable rear window, tonneau covers and other features seem to snap together even better than before and everything appears to be of high quality.

Finally, there's the facelift. This cleaner, quieter, more mature look says as much as any of the other updates, upgrades and new technology about the vision Chevy has for its future. It's a vision with high promise. We like what we're seeing here.

Model Lineup

The 2007 Chevy Avalanche comes in one configuration, a half-ton, full-size pickup with four doors, room for up to six passengers and outfitted with a unique, fold-down rear bulkhead accessing an enclosed bed.

Three engines are offered, two 5.3-liter V8s, one making 320 horsepower in the two-wheel drive version, another 310 horsepower in the four-wheel drive model, and a 355-hp, 6.0-liter V8 scheduled to appear later in the model run. The transmission is a four-speed automatic, mated to an electronic transfer case in four-wheel-drive models. The heavy-duty Avalanche 2500 has been discontinued and is no longer available.

The LS 2WD ($31,790) is the entry-level Avalanche, along with the LS 4WD ($34,790). Seats are cloth covered benches, front and rear; the front splits 40/20/40 with a six-way power driver's seat and manual recline on both driver and passenger seat, the rear 60/40. Standard features include dual-zone air conditioning, the usual array of powered utilities including the tailgate lock, multi-media stereo radio, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, front and rear seat carpeted floor mats, two auxiliary power outlets, ready-to-tow trailer setup and P265/70R17 all-season tires on aluminum wheels. Notable options include a stereo upgrade adding an in-dash, six-CD changer ($300); XM satellite radio with pre-paid, three-month trial subscription ($199); power adjustable pedals ($120) with rear park assist ($245); luggage rack ($195) and cross rails ($45); auto-lock rear differential ($295); and white-letter highlighted tires ($125). Also, but only on the LS, is a delete-option (-$600) soft cargo cover in place of the standard three-piece, hard cover.

The LT 2WD ($32,490) and 4WD ($35,490) feature an upgraded interior with cloth bucket seats, six-way power adjustments for the driver's seat, manual recline on both seats, a center console, and rear-seat audio controls with dual headphone jacks. Halogen fog lamps are standard. A front bench seat is a no-cost option. Options in addition to those for the LS include: automatic, dual-zone climate control ($195); DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system with remote and wireless headphones ($1295); touch-screen, DVD-based navigation system with voice recognition ($2250); Bose premium speaker system ($495); power, tilt-and-slide sunroof ($995); universal remote transmitter ($105); and P275/55R20 blackwall tires on polished aluminum wheels ($1795).

Option packages for the LT include 2LT ($2,040) with automatic climate control system, the universal remote, the six-CD stereo, leather upholstery, power adjustable pedals, rear parking assist and remote vehicle starter. In addition, a rear-view camera system ($250) is available with the 2LT package. The 3LT package ($3,650) includes 2LT plus 12-way power, heated front bucket seats with two-setting driver memory; outside mirrors with dip-to-park, integrated turn signals, driver-side auto-dim and ground courtesy lighting; the Bose premium speakers; and XM satellite radio. Rain-sensing windshield wipers ($95) and a heated wiper washer fluid system ($85) can be ordered with the 3LT package.

The LTZ 2WD ($39,225) and 4WD ($42,225) come standard with most of the equipment that's optional on the other two models. Also standard is a premium suspension package with variable shock damping and air-assisted rear load leveling. Power retractable running boards ($1,095) are optional. The luggage rack crossrails are optional, along with the rear-view camera system, the sunroof, the rear-seat entertainment system and the navigation system.

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Safety features that come standard on all models include the required front-seat airbags and LATCH rear-seat child safety seat anchors. The OnStar crash-notification system is standard. Full-coverage, side-curtain airbags that protect against head injuries in side impacts and rollovers are optional ($350) on the LS and the LT, including the 2LT treatment, and standard on the 3LT and LTZ. Active safety features that come standard include antilock brakes, electronic stability control, all-speed traction control and tire-pressure monitors

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