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STYLING | 7 out of 10
Since it was introduced in 2002, the Chevrolet Avalanche has been the automotive equivalent of a Transformer, thanks to its flexible cabin and bed that intersect with each other in a clever way when you need more space.
The current Avalanche emerged in 2007, and it's changed very little in terms of styling in the model years since. It's a pickup truck in its side silhouette, but the thick pillars right behind the rear doors are a big clue that the Avalanche has something different baked into its DNA, just like the Honda Ridgeline--which doesn't have the midgate feature of the Chevy. The most distinctive pieces are those pillars, because in this generation, the Avalanche shed the vast expanses of plasticky trim that dominated and cheapened the first-generation truck.
The Avalanche has a nicely brief truck bed, bulging fenders, and a big twin-grille front end that shares genes with the front ends on the latest Malibu and Traverse. And while it looks like a Tahoe from the front, it's nearly as long as a Suburban.
Inside the 'Lanche, the well-conceived six- and five-passenger versions get distinct interiors. The dash is fairly curvy for such a large, utilitarian vehicle; it's quite carlike. In the five-passenger version, there's a wide center console trimmed with woodgrain plastic. Six-person versions have a higher, plainer dash. The door panels echo the fenders, and the gauges are big and clearly laid out, with minimal fuss.
Beneath the blocky, function-driven sheetmetal of the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche lurks an upscale interior.