A tough Transformer of a truck, the Chevy Avalanche looks like every other pickup truck, from some angles, but from the rear pillars it's unmistakable.
Today's Avalanche was new in 2007, and hasn't changed much since then. That's the year GM changed its outlook, stripping off much of the plastic body cladding that had left the first-generation truck looking vaguely cheap and insubstantial. Now, all the attention focused on the 'Lanche goes to the rear of the doors, where a pair of buttresses almost look like a law-enforcement roll bar. They're there to add structural rigidity to the Avalanche, in the spot where the usual twin reinforcements of bed wall and cab wall would give ordinary trucks enough strength to keep from twisting too much. A tweak to the grille here, a little bolder choice in color there, and the Avalanche gets a distinct personality though it's more than 90 percent identical to the Chevy Silverado. In the balance you'd have to call it a successful design--especially if you took a look at the awkward, stubby-looking Honda Ridgeline, which doesn't even get the useful Midgate to go with its very thick roofline.