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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
acceleration with the 5.3-liter V8 is good around town
the Avalanche is not frugal
Kelley Blue Book
Chevrolet pickups have slimmed down their powertrain offerings in the past few years, and for the 2011 Avalanche, the choice is singular. Order the midgate-equipped pickup and you'll be getting a 5.3-liter V-8, a six-speed automatic, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Period.
The V-8 is one of GM's best drivetrains, so the lack of drivetrain options isn't a major concern. In this installation, it turns in good, not great, performance figures of 310 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. It's a workhorse of an engine, able, torquey, and pleasant to listen to from the driver's seat, though it can be easy to tax if you load it up with passengers and a trailer. It's also outfitted with cylinder deactivation and flex-fuel capability, which give it a greener tinge than some of the engines from Toyota, Dodge and Nissan. Shifting duties are handled by a great six-speed automatic.
Like its GM truck cohorts, the Avalanche has a capable chassis, with an independent front suspension, well-sorted steering feel and good ride damping. Though the Ram 1500 is still one of the best for ride quality, and Ford's F-150 and its new electronic power steering is zingy, the Avalanche feels predictable and lively, by truck standards. It's bulky for sure, and makes for a tight squeeze in some spots, but it's fairly maneuverable.
Chevy offers a Z71 off-road package that beefs up the running gear for trailblazing; the package brings bigger wheels and tires and a more punishing ride quality.
The Avalanche tows up to 8,100 pounds and hauls up to 1,350 pounds of payload.
The 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche can't hide its bulk, but it does offer decent power and handling for such a large vehicle.