- Powertrain performance
- Easy-to-use controls
- Is the Midgate worth it?
- Four-speed automatic transmission
features & specs
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche is the truck for those who can't decide whether they need a pickup or an SUV.
TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the Chevy Avalanche. These experiences enable our team to offer you a definitive opinion on this full-size SUV. This review also compares the 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.
Hey, want to see a trick? If you think your friends will say yes, then you might want a 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche. From its debut as a 2002 model, the Avalanche's trump card has been its trick midgate.
The folding midgate forms the rear wall of the Avalanche's passenger compartment. With its midgate in the closed position and its rear seat up, the Chevy Avalanche has room for six passengers depending on whether you have bucket seats or a bench in front. When the midgate is folded, voila, its bed grows from its short length of 5'3" to 8'2"—but you do lose the capability to seat passengers in the rear.
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche is a bit of a one-trick pony, but tens of thousands of buyers like this versatility, so GM keeps on building its bowtied SUV/truck hybrid.
Looking at the current Chevrolet Avalanche, it's important to know that every light-duty pickup from General Motors was comprehensively redesigned for 2007—including the Chevy Avalanche. In case you didn't know, the Avalanche finds its genesis in Chevrolet's Suburban, sharing many components and even the dimensions of its wheelbase.
Because of all the work done for 2007, the changes made on the 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche are relatively minor. The 2008 edition adds standard curtain airbags to all model lines. A split-bench seat can now be ordered on the LS edition; LTZ models get new wood-grain trim and brighter instrument pointers.
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche can be had in either a two- or four-wheel drive in three trim levels: LS, LT, and LTZ. The standard engine—a 5.3-liter V-8 with 320 horsepower and cylinder deactivation—is joined by a 366-horsepowe 6.0-liter V-8 for those wanting a bit more pulling power. The optional, larger V-8, like its smaller sibling, also employs cylinder deactivation under low engine loads to improve fuel economy. Additionally, an E85 flex-fuel engine is offered.
An available Z71 Off-Road package adds enlarged recovery hook openings; more prominent fog lamps; unique grille treatments, and 18-inch wheels and tires.
Major available technology features include DVD-based navigation, rear park assist, and a rearview camera system to keep you on the straight and narrow whether going forward to backward, while a DVD entertainment system with a rearward 8-inch screen will keep second-row passengers amused on longer trips.
So how does it all work? Very well. For the most part, dirty cargo can stay in the bed while passengers remain comfortable in the roomy interior, which it shares with its platform mates—Chevrolet's Tahoe full-size SUV and Silverado full-size pickup. TheCarConnection.com's experts like these vehicles because of their first rate, simple controls and interior comfort. You owe them a look if you haven't already; you won't find much to complain about aside from the odd cheap piece of plastic.
On the road, the 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche drives a lot like a Chevy Suburban. This is a good thing, as its ride is smooth and handling acceptable for a 5,400-pound vehicle.
For those familiar with the first-generation Avalanche (2002-2006), problems with color fading from the high-impact body and bed cladding have been resolved—no more worries about fading with the new model.
2008 Chevrolet Avalanche
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche's unique body has an upscale interior hiding inside.
From its debut as a 2002 model, the Chevrolet Avalanche's trump card has been its unique Midgate that flips down to extend its pickup bed nearly 3 feet to 8'2". The Cadillac Escalade EXT offers similar functionality.
ForbesAutos and Cars.com both accurate describe the 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche as a mix of its Chevrolet siblings. Edmunds praises 2008 Chevy Avalanche's midgate in providing a versatile body style, while Kelley Blue Book notes the Avalanche's dark exterior and wraparound fascias visiually eliminate the dreaded bumper-to-body gaps. Edmunds compliments the newest generation Avalanches's more refined exterior and also notes the previous generation's body cladding is long gone. Still, Cars.com says some key elements remain, namely the angled triangles that descend from the C-pillars to the truck bed.
Inside, Cars.com links 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche's interior design to that of the Tahoe and Suburban, all sharing a curvaceous dashboard that rids itself of chintzy controls.
2008 Chevrolet Avalanche
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche drives a little better than you'd expect, and it rides and tows especially well.
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche is all muscle with a surprising amount of finesse and a considerable appetite for fuel.
While the Avalanche's in-town acceleration is good in ConsumerGuide's book, it also lambasts its lack of adequate highway passing power. Meanwhile, Cars.com states acceleration from the 5.3-liter V-8 is adequate and whisper-quiet.
Car and Driver calls out the Avalanche for not being sprightly regardless of powerplant, yet Edmunds begs to differ and calls the truck relatively quick—even with its standard 5.3-liter V8. The truck's impressive towing power is rated at over four tons.
The 2008 Chevy Avalanche has a four-speed automatic transmission that some reviewers felt was a little outdated, but Cars.com thinks it's exceptional due to its often imperceptible, buttery-smooth shifts.
Fuel economy, predictably, isn't great. Cars.com reports cylinder deactivation, which automatically shuts down four cylinders during low-load driving situations, is equipped on all engines available on the Avalanche. Nonetheless, the Avalanche isn't easy on fuel, 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 the Avalanche isn't light on its feet, but drives relatively well with great brake pedal feel and steering response compared to other trucks. Even ConsumerGuide is surprised at how well the Avalanche rides with only mild bouncing over large bumps, while Edmunds—first obviously contextualizing the Avalanche as not a sports car—said GM's truck deals with bumps competently, predictably, quietly, and comfortably.
2008 Chevrolet Avalanche
Comfort & Quality
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche has full-size passenger space and, when it's needed, full-size truck capacity.
Despite its limited bed, the 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche offers versatility in spades thanks to its midgate.
While the Avalanche can seat up to six passengers (five when optioned with front bucket seats), Car and Driver was found wanting more space in the cabin. At least you'll be comfortable up front in the optional bucket seats as ConsumerGuide finds them to be supportive and provide generous room for ample passengers.
When it comes to cargo, the Avalanche wows Car and Driver with its flexibility, stating the trucks midgate vastly increases its utility. However, Cars.com points out the short bed, about the size of the one found in the Dodge Dakota Club Cab, measures in at just 45.5 cubic feet of cargo volume. Additionally, when the larger bed is deployed, passengers are exposed to the elements when the midgate is open. Truck purists might eschew the Avalanche for its midgate, but Kelley Blue Book is quick to mention the Avalanche's midgate adds a degree of versatility absent from other full-size pickups.
The Avalanche interior's high-quality materials and construction caught the attention of Edmunds, while ConsumerGuide made sure to comment on the interior being composed mostly of hard plastic, even though most surfaces are textured for a high-end finish. Meanwhile, though Edmunds found the Avalanche's ergonomics to be straightforward, ConsumerGuide notes the truck's climate controls are slightly low.
On the highway, ConsumerGuide did notice wind noise and tire rumble, but the Avalanche does squelch engine noise and the groans from suspension components and tires over bumps.
2008 Chevrolet Avalanche
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche has some visibility issues. but crash test performance is exceptional.
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche earns great safety scores and carries a long list of safety features as standard equipment.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Avalanche five out of five stars for front- and side-impact protection. It did not perform as well in rollover tests, receiving just three stars, . The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not performed tests on the 2008 Avalanche.
Cars.com reports "curtain airbags are now standard," as well as "all-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with rollover mitigation." The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche's "rollover mitigation feature senses impending rollovers and can apply individual brakes in an attempt to stop them." In addition, the truck is equipped with "GM's OnStar emergency communications system," according to Edmunds.
Where the 2008 Chevy Avalanche falls short is in visibility, as Edmunds reports the truck's size and large rear-quarter blind spots can be a hindrance in tight parking maneuvers. ConsumerGuide also notes the Avalanche's tail can restrict vision directly rear, which increases the day-to-day value of the rearview camera—even if the camera distorts the distance between itself and obstacles.
2008 Chevrolet Avalanche
The 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche comes with a full list of standard features, and can be outfitted with plenty of luxury equipment.
What you get with your 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche depends on how much extra you're willing to spend.
Cars.com reports Avalanches as standard come well equipped with several power options—windows, locks, and driver's seat—while keyless entry and steering-wheel audio controls bring convenience.
As buyers opt for higher-level trim packages, Cars.com reports two new colors for 2008: Blue Granite Metallic and Deep Ruby Metallic. Additionally, the Avalanche LS gains 17-inch alloy wheels as standard while LT models get 20-inch wheels and an electronic continuously damping suspension as available options; move up to the LTZ trim and those options become standard.
The bed has built-in features designed to make carrying cargo a snap. Cars.com reports the bed's non-slip mat held multiple bags of ice in place and each rear fender's lockable compartment can be accessed from the top. A downside is introduced by the Avalanche's standard three-piece cargo cover, which is difficult to remove and stow.
Edmunds suggests the 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche in LT can be upgraded with lots of extras, making it more desirable than a base 2008 Chevrolet Avalanche. Those extras include heated front seats and DVD-Audio, according to ForbesAutos.