2010 Chevrolet Avalanche Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 11, 2009

The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche flexes its midsection to show off a versatile Midgate, but you'll notice its luxe features and nicely trimmed cabin, too.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Chevrolet Avalanche to write this hands-on road test. The 2010 Avalanche review is based on driving impressions culled from the past three model years. Editors have compared the Avalanche to other trucks and SUVs to help you narrow your shopping choices, and have edited a companion Full Review that condenses other Web reviews for the most concise review available online.

It's GM's Transformer truck-since 2002. The Chevrolet Avalanche has taken the full-size pickup for an interesting ride by offering a flexible cabin and bed that trade places when needed. There's a midgate in the middle, and when it's up, the Avalanche seats five and carries a short bed full of stuff; when it's down, the 'Lanche seats up to three across the front and opens the bed into the cabin for more than eight feet of linear bed space. With a base price of about $36,000 and rising to more than $47,000, the Avalanche has few competitors save for GM's own Cadillac Escalade EXT, the four-door Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab, and the Honda Ridgeline.

The latest Avalanche joined the GM lineup in 2007 and changed very little in terms of styling. Compared to the first-generation Avalanche, the new truck is significantly less plasticky, without the big add-on trim that gave the original a gaudy look. Trim and with a bit of the off-roading look built into the sail panels behind the cabin windows, the Avalanche has a nicely brief truck bed, pronounced fenders, and a big twin-grille front end that cues up like the noses on the new Chevrolet Malibu and Traverse. The cockpit's very well designed and fitted, and the six- and five-passenger versions have distinct interiors. Ordering twin bucket seats in front leaves the 'Lanche with a wide center console that can be trimmed in wood grain; in six-seat form, the console goes away, leaving a higher, plainer dash in its place. The door panels echo the fenders, and the gauges are big and clearly laid out, with minimal fuss.

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A single powertrain couples to rear- or four-wheel drive on the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche. With the optional 6.0-liter V-8 dropped, the only engine offered is a 5.3-liter V-8 with flex-fuel capability, 310 horsepower, 330 pound-feet of torque, and cylinder deactivation to help fuel economy. It's a workhorse of an engine, able and torquey and pleasant to hear from inside the truck, and it's coupled to a great six-speed automatic that works very well to generate acceleration as good as some passenger cars. Fuel economy isn't wonderful, but 14/20 mpg is respectable for a truck of this size and capacity. The latest generation of GM trucks has well-sorted steering, ride, and handling, thanks to independent suspensions up front and coil springs in the rear. The 2010 Dodge Ram may ride a bit better, but the Avalanche is quite smooth on most road surfaces, with a measure of steering feel that's untrucklike in a good way-and it tows up to 8,100 pounds and hauls 1,350 pounds of payload.

With an interior like that in the latest Chevy Silverado and Tahoe, the Avalanche has comfortable seats front and back, with a high-quality look and feel. Comfort and controls are first-rate and simple to use. Seats are generously proportioned in front especially, and there's plenty of space in back for adults. Some drivers will opt for the optional rear camera system, though, as rearward vision can be obscured. With the exception of a couple of cheap bits, you'll find little to gripe about. The big center console on five-passenger versions is wide and deep, and all versions have good storage in the glove box and the door panels, but it doesn't have the flat floor of the Ford F-150 or the flexible storage bins of the latest 2010 Dodge Ram. The truck's hallmark—the midgate—is either a blessing or not useful enough. The bed expands from 5'3" to 8'2", giving it more full-size capacity, and there's not much of a downside to the midgate for body structure. If you truly need long-bed hauling all the time, a four-door Silverado's a better bet, and if you only use a truck occasionally, the smaller Ford Explorer might be more practical as a daily driver. In between, the Avalanche is a singularly reasonable solution.

The 2010 Chevy Avalanche earns five-star crash ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), but hasn't been tested by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). It's fitted with a comprehensive set of safety features, including front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; and stability and traction control. Safety options include a rearview camera; rear parking sensors; a blind-spot warning system; power-folding tow mirrors; and an integrated brake controller for towing systems.

The Avalanche offers more technology features than most buyers might expect, which is also the case with GM's other full-size trucks. Standard equipment includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/XM/CD player with MP3 capability; a USB port for iPod/MP3 players; and the midgate. Options include a navigation system; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; Bluetooth; and a Bose Centerpoint audio system. Also offered: leather seats; ventilated front seats; and packages like the Z71 Off-Road option, which loads on fog lamps, special trim, and big recovery hooks, in case you're caught in deep slop.

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2010 Chevrolet Avalanche

Styling

Inside the unique exterior styling of the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche lurks an upscale interior.

The latest Avalanche joined the GM lineup in 2007, and it's changed very little in terms of styling. ForbesAutos notes its familiarity with full-size SUV and pickup trucks from the Chevy stable, stating is a cross of both. Trim and with a bit of the off-roading look built into the sail panels behind the cabin windows, the Avalanche has a nicely brief truck bed, pronounced fenders, and a big twin-grille front end that shares genes with the noses on the new Chevrolet Malibu and Traverse. Cars.com contends the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche looks much like its Tahoe sibling up front, but with an overall length making it nearly as long as the much larger Suburban.

The Avalanche's cockpit is very well designed and fitted, with six- and five-passenger versions having distinct interiors. Its curvaceous interior echos that of its Tahoe and Suburban siblings, says Cars.com, giving the Avalance a carlike environment uncharacteristic of GM considering its previous designs. Ordering twin bucket seats in front leaves the 'Lanche with a wide center console that can be trimmed in wood grain; in six-seat form, the console goes away, leaving a higher, plainer dash in its place. The door panels echo the fenders, and the gauges are big and clearly laid out, with minimal fuss. ForbesAutos simply reports the 2010 Chevy Avalanche's high-quality materials are evident in the two-tone interior, though Car and Driver leads with a backhanded compliment, stating its simply decent inside the Avalanche.

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2010 Chevrolet Avalanche

Performance

The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche can't hide its bulk, but it does offer decent power and handling for such a large vehicle.

A single powertrain couples to rear- or four-wheel drive on the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche. With the optional 6.0-liter V-8 dropped, the only engine offered is a 5.3-liter V-8 with flex-fuel capability, 310 horsepower, 330 pound-feet of torque, and cylinder deactivation to help fuel economy. It's a workhorse of an engine, able, torquey, and pleasant to hear from inside the truck, and it's coupled to a great six-speed automatic that works very well to generate acceleration matching that of some passenger cars. ConsumerGuide is happy with the Avalanche's 5.3-liter V-8 around town, through it lacks passing power on the freeway. Car and Driver bluntly states it's "not quick," but Edmunds asserts, "despite its considerable size and heft, the 2010 Chevy Avalanche is relatively quick," though they do confess to fuel economy taking a back seat when the Avalanche is laden with passengers and cargo.

Fuel efficiency isn't the strong suit of the 2010 Avalanche. The EPA rates the truck at 14/20 mpg, which is respectable for a truck of this size and capacity, but not overwhelming. Cars.com points out its cylinder deactivation "automatically shuts down four cylinders during low-load driving situations like highway cruising." Even so, the Avalanche "is not frugal," according to Kelley Blue Book.

The latest generation of GM trucks has well-sorted steering, ride, and handling, thanks to independent suspensions up front and coil springs in the rear. The Avalanche deals with corners in a competitent and predictable manner, Edmunds says, "while delivering a quiet and comfortably controlled ride on the highway." The 2010 Dodge Ram may ride a bit better, but the Avalanche is quite smooth on most road surfaces and has a measure of steering feel that's untrucklike in a good way-and it tows up to 8,100 pounds and hauls 1,350 pounds of payload. Kelley Blue Book says the bulk makes city driving a challenge: "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 Avalanche may be "big and hard to maneuver," Car and Driver observes, but it "drives pretty well, with good steering and brake-pedal feel."

The Avalanche can be configured in two- or four-wheel drive, and an optional Z71 Off-Road package adds big tow hooks; unique fog lamps; package-specific grille treatments, and 18-inch wheels and off-road tires.

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2010 Chevrolet Avalanche

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche sports real six-passenger seating, the flexible Midgate, and good interior quality.

With an interior like that in the latest Chevy Silverado and Tahoe, the Avalanche has comfortable seats front and back, with a high-quality look and feel.

Seats are generously proportioned in front, and the second-row provides space aplenty for adults. Configured as standard with a front bench, the Avalanche can convey up to six adults, reports Edmunds, but optioning front bucket seats will reduce that potential passenger number down to five. Regardless, Car and Driver feels there's "not much people space" inside, a minority opinion among reviews studied by TheCarConnection.com's editors.

Small-item storage is good. The big center console on five-passenger versions is wide and deep, and all versions have good storage in the glove box and door panels, but it doesn't possess the flat floor of the Ford F-150 or the flexible storage bins of the latest 2010 Dodge Ram.

If you truly need long-bed hauling all the time, a four-door Chevrolet Silverado's a better bet, and if you only use a truck occasionally, the smaller Honda Ridgeline might be more practical as a daily driver. In between, the 2010 Chevy Avalanche is a singularly reasonable solution. The bed expands from 5'3" to 8'2", giving it more full-size capacity, and there's not much of a downside to the midgate for body structure. Kelley Blue Book notes the Avalanche's SUV bones and its short pickup bed may turn off true truck fans, but its configurable midgate allows for a level of versatility not available in traditional full-size pickups. Still, Cars.com points out that once the midgate is down, there's nothing to product occupants from the elements, and the cargo area measures just 45.5 cubic feet—about equal to a four-door Dodge Dakota Club Cab—when the midgate is fixed in place.

With comfort and controls that are first-rate and simple to use, ConsumerGuide makes sure to note the 2010 Chevy Avalanche still makes use of a lot of hard plastic, even if many surfaces are textured to lend an upscale appearance. Likewise, Edmunds says the interior is constructed of high-quality materials and the cabin features a fit and finish that's top-notch.

Trucks don't tend to offer serene cabins, but ConsumerGuide reports the Avalanche's suppresses bump and engine noise well. It's only at freeway-speeds that ConsumerGuide became aware of a noticeable wind rush and tire rumble. Even so, they assert the Avalanche rides well relative to other large pickups and it only transmits some mild bounding over the largest of bumps.

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2010 Chevrolet Avalanche

Safety

The 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche is a strong crash-test study, but visibility warrants attention.

The 2010 Chevy Avalanche earns five-star crash ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and a three-star rollover rating, but it hasn't been tested by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

It's fitted with a comprehensive set of safety features, including front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; and stability and traction control. According to Edmunds, the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche senses an impending rollover and mitigates it by individual brakes to action. If such a rollover does happen, GM's OnStar system is there to call emergency services.

Safety options include a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system, power-folding tow mirrors, and an integrated brake controller for towing systems.

Visibility in the 2010 Chevy Avalanche's is not a strong suit, and ConsumerGuide states its tall body panels severely restrict vision to the rear. That means the rearview camera is all but necessary in the Avalanche, even if the camera obfuscates the distance between itself and obstacles because of its distorted picture.

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2010 Chevrolet Avalanche

Features

In addition to its cargo-versatility features, the 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche comes well equipped with the features luxury SUV buyers like.

The Avalanche offers more technology features than most buyers might expect, which is also the case with GM's other full-size trucks.

According to Edmunds, "there are two main trim levels; LS and LT, plus a premium line-topping LTZ package." Edmunds also suggests that the Chevrolet Avalanche 2010 "LT is generally more desirable because it's upgradeable with additional extras for those who want more than an entry-level vehicle" than a base 2010 Chevrolet Avalanche.

Cars.com notes "all Avalanches come well-equipped with power windows, power door locks and keyless entry, as well as a power driver's seat and steering-wheel audio controls." Other standard equipment includes an AM/FM/XM/CD player with MP3 capability, a USB port for iPod/MP3 players, and the Midgate. In addition to the innovative Midgate, the bed itself has some features worth mentioning. "The bed offers a non-slip mat that even held bags of ice in place. Each rear fender incorporates a lockable compartment, accessible from the top," Cars.com reports. "A three-piece cargo cover is standard, though it's difficult to remove and even harder to stow."

Options include a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Bluetooth, and a Bose Centerpoint audio system. Also offered: leather seats; ventilated front seats; power-adjustable pedals; a remote start system; and packages like the Z71 Off-Road option, which loads on fog lamps, special trim, and big recovery hooks, in case you're caught in deep slop.

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