2011 Chevrolet Avalanche Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

The Chevy Avalanche owes much of its great interior space to its cousins, the Tahoe and Silverado, and it shares their comfortable seats front and back, and high-quality look and feel.

Few folks won't fit in the Avalanche's wide, generously proportioned front seats. The five-passenger versions have rather flat but spacious bucket seats divided by a Hoover Dam of a center console; six-passenger versions are pure bench seat, just like they used to build them. In front or in back, the Avalanche provides soaring headroom, good shoulder and leg room, though the rear seats sit a bit too vertically to be truly comfortable over the longer haul.

The poster child for truck flexibility, the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche flip-flops from six-seater to full-size pickup at the tilt of its midgate.
Cellphones, laptops and pop bottles get the same spacious treatment. That large center console also is wide and deep, with room for a netbook inside. The glove box is large, and the door panel pockets are usefully molded to hold large drink bottles. That said, the Avalanche lacks the flat rear floor you'll find in the Ford F-150, and it doesn't have the hideaway storage bins available in the Ram 1500 lineup.

For a true workhorse, you're probably better served by a Silverado with the long bed. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the sheer usefulness of the Avalanche in most other user cases, though. For anyone with less than contractor-duty needs, the 'Lanche hits the bullseye for flexibility. When the Midgate door--the panel between the cabin and the bed--is in the locked and loaded position, the Avalanche is an SUV with a stubby pickup bed perfect for mulch runs at Lowe's. Lower the glass and release the midgate, and the Avalanche's bed grows into the cabin, lengthening it from 5' 3" to 8' 2", giving it something more akin to full-size pickup capacity. There's very little downside to the arrangement so long as you call it temporary, since the cabin's open to the elements from the moment you pop the midgate's latches. For more secure storage, the Avalanche's rear fenders have locking bins, but there's no real place for tools to live--another dividing line between full-size, full-time duty and the kind of weekend duty the Avalanche really excels at.

Like GM's other pickups, the Avalanche got serious about comfort and quality when it was redesigned four model years ago. The interior's still loaded with plastic, but it's of the high-quality kind, and it's put together with more care than you might see in the basic work-truck versions of the Silverado. Big gauges and buttons are glove-friendly, and the Avalanche only lets in lots of noise when the midgate is lowered.

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