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2007 Chevrolet Avalanche Z71 Review - Long-Term Test

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on May 1, 2008 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Ken BrubakerSteve VonSeggern

After triumphantly beating out its GM brethren to win the title of 2007 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year award (March '07), we were excited to get our hands on Chevy's modular pickup truck and see what living with the SUV/pickup hybrid (no, not that kind of hybrid) for a year was like. Would the trade-offs be too great or just right? Would we find uses for the shortbed? Would there be enough room and storage in the cabin to balance out the SUV side of the equation? And would we see the 20-mpg highway mileage promised by the window sticker?

When our Avalanche was delivered, it was loaded with options that took it to an as-tested price of $47,310, from the base price of $36,040. The most important being the $1,795 Z71 Off-Road package, which includes a handful of goodies such as off-road suspension, body-colored wheel flares, a unique front fascia, high-capacity air cleaner, locking rear diff, and 18-inch wheels and tires, although we could do without the tubular side steps that are also included. Other options that have been added to our Avalanche are the $3,450 LT3 equipment group, which adds such luxuries as leather bucket seats, dual-zone climate control, power adjustable pedals, and rear parking assist. Other options include Navigation ($2,250), a rear-seat entertainment system ($1,295), a sunroof ($250), a rear camera ($195), luggage-rack side rails ($95), and rain-sensing wipers ($45).

The engine is the flex-fuel 5.3L OHV Vortec V-8 featuring General Motors' corporate Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system making 320 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. The engine is teamed with the venerable four-speed automatic, and diffs stuffed with 3.73:1 gearing. While we would love to see the General's new six-speed, we have been impressed with fuel economy averaging close to 16 mpg, with a highest of over 18 mpg. We are hoping as the engine breaks in we can improve on those numbers, but are really enjoying the over 400-mile range per tank.

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We were able to get those numbers on the Avalanche's first road trip to the central California coast, as well as the Sequoia National Park and Yosemite. With only a couple thousand miles on the clock, our family of four enjoyed the quiet and smooth ride, plenty of room for the kids in the backseat, as well as full use of the rear entertainment system.

So far, the bed has proven useful for light hauling, from keeping luggage dry under the lockable tonneau to hauling supplies for our 2008 PTOTY competition. Kudos also go to the deep storage bins in the bedsides. We haven't had a chance to use the Midgate yet, but have plans to in the near future.

Other high points during the Avalanche's short stay are fit and finish, ride quality, and brakes that are inspiring. The Avalanche has even won over staffers who claim this is the first GM product they have ever loved. These are early indications that our Avalanche will be very popular in the long-term fleet.

So far our only complaints were from the misguided soul who must have figured the Avalanche for a gas-guzzler and keyed the door, as well as loud tires when cornering.

Congrats to the General on a winner and we can wait to see how well the Avalanche lives up to our high expectations during a year of service with the Four Wheeler staff.

Report: 1 of 4
Previous reports: None
Base price: $36,040
Price as tested: $47,310
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic part-time two-speed with auto setting

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 6,682
Average mpg (this report): N/A
Test best tank (mpg): 18.36
Test worst tank (mpg): 13.18

Maintenance
This period: None
Problem areas: None

What's Hot, What's Not:
HOT: Good quality, great engine note, surprisingly good fuel economy
NOT: Tires can be noisy during spirited driving, wish it had a six-speed

Logbook Quotes
* "Thanks to whoever keyed the door-bring back some touch-up paint tomorrow."
* "You just can't beat the sounds of a Chevy small-block V-8."
* "Wow, these brakes are great-inspire confidence."
* "Looks much better than the previous generation."
* "This interior is a wonderful place to spend time!"

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