Yesterday, General Motors announced plans to discontinue the Avalanche after the 2013 model year, not with a whisper but a bang.
First introduced as a 2002 model in 2001, more than 580,000 have been sold in the intervening years. Credited as being the first crew cab sized vehicle that could haul, tow, and comfortably be a family’s primary passenger vehicle, it was described by the truckmaker as a UUV — ultimate utility vehicle. There has been a lot of applause over the years with Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year honors for its first year’s model and a Popular Mechanics Design and Engineering Award among the honors.
Unique to the Avalanche is the mid-gate which allows the cargo area to be extended easily from 5’3″ to 8’2″ in length. This engineering and design success was (and still is) considered to be a great accomplishment.
In 2006, the Avalanche received a major update with a fully-boxed frame and new suspension and well as an off-road package with special tires, grille and fascia as well as an integrated front bumper winch and tow hooks.
As with many of the nation’s smaller or more niche-oriented trucks, however, the Avalanche is unquestionably a victim of truck manufacturers’ desire to shift consumer attention to more typical 1/2-ton pickups with crew cabs as a way to reduce the number of models they produce — fewer models, fewer distinct parts, and less expensive production and marketing. This is much easier today than it would have been years ago since a whole host of truck features now mimic those in passenger cars, right up to luxury and technology levels.
I have to applaud GM for giving the Avalanche another year. The 2013 Black Diamond Edition will have some upgrades in keeping with newer Chevy trucks, but will still maintain its design ingenuity in its sunset year, and all base prices have been reduced by $2500. The 2-WD LS, for example, is priced at $35,900 plus a $995 dealer delivery charge.
The new Avalanche features a body-colored bed surround and one-year-only badge. All levels offer 8,100 lbs. of tow capacity with a Vortec 5.3L engine featuring cylinder-deactivating active fuel management for better mpg, as well as Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic transmission.
On both the LS and LT, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls, rear camera, stabilitrac, side curtain airbags all standard. Both are available with 2WD or 4WD. The integrated brake control eliminates the need for aftermarket brake control systems. The LS also has rear park assist, power adjustable pedals, foglamps and remote start as standard.
This is a well-equipped pickup that should scratch an itch for truck shoppers who have always craved an Avalanche or are looking to replace an older model with the state-of-the-industry. As the Avalanche is discontinued after the 2013 model year, look for it to also become a nostalgic favorite among used truck buyers in the used market.