The Best Comes The Second Time Around
We recently borrowed an '07 Chevrolet Avalanche to be the workhorse for a week of suspension testing on other Chevys. We had originally asked for a new Chevy truck to haul all the equipment, tires, camera gear, and spare parts, but when GM told us they only had an '07 Avalanche available, we quickly pursed our lips and said thank you very much; beggars can't be choosers.
The last Avalanche was not overly impressive in stock form, and the looks never really did grow on us, so we weren't expecting more than a four-wheel-drive taxi for our crew. At least it would be a first-time drive and we'd probably still be able to take two-thirds of our gear, and it would have four seats for passenger-carrying duty during our testing program.
We were caught off guard by an all-new body design that flowed excellently with the Avalanche's angled pillars and SUT configuration. The 20-inch wheels were not big attractions for us, but we could quickly overlook those when checking out the startlingly striking sheetmetal emblazoned in a Sunburst Orange Ii Metallic paint coat. We just called it burnt orange.
The body looked pretty good, but we knew it was going to handle like a walrus on rollerskates; it was on a Suburban chassis and that's just too much weight to really have any fun in corners, much less off road.
Danged if we weren't wrong there too. Once we hopped in the super-plush next level of Chevy luxury interior and were absorbed into the front seats, we gave a flick of the key to start what we found to be a torquey and strong engine that was perhaps a bit too burdened by the Avalanche's considerable weight. The steering system and steering wheel itself have a very nice feel about them as we took off from the truck yard, but we'd see what this thing felt like in a hard turn. We threw the wheel to the side to see how much lean this tanker had. The surprise that came from the staff members who drove this Avalanche at how well it handled can only be taken as an amazing achievement on Chevy's part. The tire package had a wide foot and this new Avalanche was squatting on the ground, but the lack of lean and the ease of steering through winding roads have to be majorly attributed to an excellently tuned suspension package. Chevy definitely got the shock valving right with this ride.
So would we give this thing a thumbs up? You bet. There were a couple of minor things we didn't like, and we'd have to yank off those 20s and see about some more aggressive tires, but this new Avy really was a blast to have around for a week. Plus, the automatic back-up camera that projects on the central control monitor let us back around the entire parking lot without looking up even once (yes, we shouldn't have been doing that).
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Engine:325ci, 5.3L Vortec engine with coil-near-plug ignition, 325 hp/340 lb-ft of torque, 160-amp alternator
Transmission: 4L60E four-speed automatic, First: 3.06:1; Second: 1.63:1; Third: 1.00:1; Fourth: 0.70:1
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Four-wheel discs
Suspension (f/r): Independent/solid-axle four-link
Overall Length: 221.3
Min. Front Ground Clearance: 10.5
Min. Rear Ground Clearance: 9.1
Curb Weight: 5,713
Towing (with 4.10 gears: 8,000
Fuel Tank (gal: 31
StabiliTrak A system designed to improve the stability of the vehicle in emergency maneuvers.
D.I.C. (Driver Information Center) Continuously monitors vehicle functions and informs driver of things such as fuel range, tire inflation, door ajar, and so on.
On-Star One year Safe & Sound plan, which makes hundreds of diagnostic checks on the four main operating systems and sends monthly e-mail reports to you.
Passenger Sensing System Automatically senses the weight in the front passenger seat, and turns the passenger airbag on or off.