- Straightforward controls
- Strong V-8 performance
- Cargo/passenger flexibility
- Disappointing fuel economy with the 6.0-liter
- Questionable Midgate
By offering the best of both worlds, the 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche makes choosing between a truck and an SUV a heck of a lot easier.
Since its introduction in 2002, the Chevrolet Avalanche has won over tens of thousands of consumers with its ability to adapt. As an SUV with the Midgate closed and the rear seat up, the Avalanche can comfortably transport six people, and as a truck with the Midgate folded, the Avalanche’s truck bed grows in length from 5'3" to 8'2". The Avalanche is, without a doubt, the most flexible SUV on the market.
Based on the Chevrolet Suburban and sharing many common parts as well as the same wheelbase dimensions—and very closely related to the Cadillac Escalade EXT—the unique SUV/truck hybrid is defined by its unique Midgate and the one trick it performs. Like the rest of GM’s light-duty pickups, the Avalanche was comprehensively retooled for the 2007 model year, and it’s seen only minor changes since then.
A new transmission is the biggest news for the 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche this year; replacing the old four-speed transmission is a new six-speed Hydra-Matic 6L80 automatic transmission. The new transmission improves fuel economy because the two additional gears allow the engine to operate at lower rpm when traveling at freeway speeds. The lower engine speed also contributes to reduced engine noise.
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche is available in LS, LT, and LTZ models and with either rear- or-four-wheel drive. The standard engine is a 320-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 with Active Fuel Management, which deactivates half of the engine’s cylinders when cruising or coasting. A 6.0-liter, 366-horsepower V-8 is available; it also has the system to reduce fuel consumption. But the 6.0-liter engine still brings a significant fuel-economy penalty; the 5.3-liter has ratings of up to 14 mpg city, 20 highway, but with the 6.0-liter that drops to 12 mpg city, 17 highway.
The 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche shares its interior with the Chevy Silverado pickup and Tahoe SUV, and the experts at TheCarConnection.com like these trucks. Their comfort and controls are first-rate and simple to use. If you haven't been in this newest generation of GM light-duty truck, you owe it a look. With the exception of a couple of cheap bits here and there, you'll find little to gripe about. Seats are generously proportioned in front especially, and there’s plenty of space in back for adults. Some drivers will opt for the optional rear camera system, though, as rearward vision can be obscured.
The Avalanche offers more technology features than most buyers might expect, which is also the case with GM’s other full-size trucks. Rear park assist, DVD navigation, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with an eight-inch screen are all on the options list, and the 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche includes Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity with steering-wheel controls.
The Avalanche comes with most of the safety features that buyers look for, including head-curtain side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and StabiliTrak electronic stability. For more reassurance, the Avalanche earns top five-star ratings in federal frontal and side impact crash tests. There’s also an optional integrated brake controller system, which provides immediate and measured brake force signaling to electric-controlled trailer brake systems.
Hard-core Avalanche users in the back country will want to go for the heavy-duty Z71 Off-Road package, which features larger recovery hook openings; larger, more prominent fog lamps; and specific grille texture and platinum chrome grille trim. Also, those with bigger budgets will want to take a look at the top-of-the-line LTZ, which packs on the enhancements to a level that’s comparable with GMC’s Denali models, bringing a Centerpoint Surround Sound Bose speaker system, heated and cooled 12-way power memory seats with perforated leather-trimmed seating surfaces, and a dressed-up appearance.