IDYLWILD, Calif .— Call it the Swiss Army Knife of vehicles if you must, but Chevy’s new-for-’02 Avalanche is even more talented in its many conversions and uses. It’s a truck that works as a car, and can carry just about any combination of people and things that a normal family will think of, plus solve a lot of abnormal requests.
In case you hadn’t heard, the Avalanche is part sport-ute, part pickup truck, and part kangaroo. Through cleverly minimal adaptations, you can make your Avalanche haul six passengers, sheets of plywood, extreme mountain bikes, even two passengers in balmy open-air pleasure.
At the heart of the Avalanche is the exclusive Convert-a-Cab System, featuring the midgate design, which makes it the only vehicle currently available that can reconfigure from six-passenger seating to a vehicle with a protected eight-foot cargo box. Too, there are eight tiedowns in the bed, and handholds for climbing aboard, which means you can secure anything with the possible exception of a Tasmanian devil.
Along with the grab handles at the rear corners, there are slip-resistant steps built into the bumpers. The tailgate is easily removable, and all load areas are finished with dent, scuff and wear resistant heavy duty plastic that is likely to put the bed coating business into Chapter 11. The cargo box features a standard, heavy, one-piece rubber mat to help protect the floor. Since the mat is not affixed to the floor, it may be easily removed for cleaning. And the bed can be segmented by 2X wood boards to form different levels or dividers for a variety of loads. Also, the hard cover can support all but the heaviest people, with a 250-lb load rating.
The defining feature is that midgate. It flips and folds the divider between the back seats (including the rear window) to allow up to ten-foot items to be carried without a warning flag. It only takes one person to reconfigure the vehicle, and all its removable components can be stored on board. The midgate permits a pass-through between the cab and the cargo box. It is constructed of GM's PRO-TEC composite material, making it lightweight, yet durable and strong. When the midgate is in place, the vehicle offers a five-foot, three-inch long protected cargo box and can be expanded to carry any 4X8 item, completely inside, protected and dry.