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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Despite its considerable size and heft, the 2008 Chevy Avalanche is relatively quick
the Avalanche is not frugal
Kelley Blue Book
Avalanche rides surprisingly well for a large pickup truck
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche is all muscle with a surprising amount of finesse—and a considerable appetite for fuel.
Cars.com reports that for the Chevrolet Avalanche 2008 "an iron-block 5.3-liter V-8 that makes 320 horsepower and 340 pounds-feet of torque is standard," noting "an all-aluminum version that generates 310 hp and 335 pounds-feet of torque is available." ConsumerGuide avers that "acceleration with the 5.3-liter V8 is good around town," but remarks that the 2008 Chevy Avalanche has only "adequate highway passing power...[with] no noticeable difference in acceleration between 2WD and 4WD models, despite the latter being heavier and having 10 less horsepower." Cars.com says, “The 5.3-liter V-8 produces adequate acceleration around town, and it's whisper-quiet.”
A 6.0-liter, 366-horsepower V-8 is available; it also shuts off cylinders under low engine loads to reduce fuel consumption. An E85 flex-fuel engine is offered, as well. With any powerplant, Car and Driver calls the Avalanche “not quick.” Edmunds begs to differ, however: "despite its considerable size and heft, the 2008 Chevy Avalanche is relatively quick, even when equipped with the standard 5.3-liter V8." Edmunds acknowledges "acceleration and fuel economy begin to suffer when the truck is loaded down with passengers or cargo." Towing power is impressive, rated at well over four tons.
Two- and four-wheel-drive drivetrains are available with the Avalanche. A heavy-duty Z71 Off-Road package is optional and features larger recovery hook openings; larger, more prominent fog lamps; and specific grille texture and platinum chrome grille trim. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires are also part of the package.
The 2008 Chevy Avalanche has a four-speed automatic transmission that some reviewers felt was a little outdated. Car and Driver reports that the "transmission only has four speeds." Cars.com feels it’s “among the best in the business — it offers buttery-smooth shifts that are often imperceptible — but it wouldn't hurt to have a five- or six-speed gearbox.”
Fuel economy, predictably, isn’t great. Cars.com reports "all three engines feature cylinder deactivation, which automatically shuts down four cylinders during low-load driving situations like highway cruising." Nonetheless, "the Avalanche is not frugal, even with the Active Fuel Management System," according to Kelley Blue Book. The EPA reports 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for the 5.3-liter V-8 and 12/17 mpg for the 6.0-liter engine.
In the handling department, Car and Driver acknowledges that it's "big and hard to maneuver, [but] for a monster truck, the Avalanche drives pretty well, with good steering and brake-pedal feel." ConsumerGuide says "the Avalanche rides surprisingly well for a large pickup truck. It betrays its design with only mild bounding over large bumps." Edmunds observes that while "the Avalanche is certainly no sports car around corners, it deals with them in a competent, predictable manner while delivering a quiet and comfortably controlled ride on the highway." This 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche handling characteristic is most likely due to "a wider track and a lower center of gravity [that] contribute to enhanced on-road stability," as well as a "revised suspension [that] provides a comfortable ride and more precise handling," according to ForbesAutos, allowing that the truck "may be too large for some motorists (or garages) to handle." Kelley Blue Book quips "piloting an Avalanche through crowded urban streets is no picnic because of the vehicle's bulk, though maneuverability is better than some might expect."
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche drives just like the large truck you’d expect, and it rides and tows especially well.