2012 Chevrolet Avalanche Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

For the most part, the Chevy Avalanche has a cabin just like the ones you'd find in a four-door Silverado, pretty similar as well to the one in the Chevy Tahoe SUV. It shares their generally high grade of trim and comfortable front seats. But when attention shifts to the back seat, and the truck bed, all similarities end.

There aren't many drivers that will be too large or too tall to find a comfortable seat inside the Avalanche. Available as a six- or five-seater, it's as capacious as most any full-size truck needs to be, with good head and leg room. Six-passenger versions have a broad dash with no center console, which opens up leg room completely while also offering a fold-down armrest that helps passengers brace themselves--there's not much bolstering to hold them in place. Five-seat versions have a wide center console with all kinds of storage molded in and hidden under lids and covers. There's room for a laptop inside the console bin, and everything from mobile phones to soda bottles get extra-large niches built into the cabin.

The Avalanche is the only truck on earth that can go from six-seat SUV to full-size pickup--though it loses a closed, two-row cabin in the process.

The back seat holds three adults across, when the Avalanche sits in enclosed form. Like other GM trucks, the back seat sits a little to close to vertical for true comfort, and unlike the Ram or F-150, the floor isn't flat.

If you're absolutely in need of carrying five or more passengers along with cargo, the Silverado will be a better choice. But if those plans can change--and need to on a moment's notice--the Avalanche has a nifty load gate cut into the wall behind the back seats. Called the Midgate, the panel locks into place to preserve an SUV-like cabin, but folds down to extend the otherwise short bed. Lower the glass and flip down the midgate, and the Avalanche's rear seats turn into more bed space--the bed lengthens from 5' 3" to 8' 2", giving it something more akin to full-size pickup capacity. It's a temporary, occasional solution, since there's no way to enclose the cabin at that point, to keep out rain or snow or even wind.

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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