NEW FOR 2008:

– Standard curtain airbags on all models
– Exterior colours: Blue Granite Metallic and Deep Ruby Metallic

Redesigned in 2007, the Chevrolet Avalanche is virtually unchanged for 2008, save for the addition of standard curtain airbags.

Based on GM’s full-size SUV platform, the Avalanche comes with a choice of three engines. Standard in the LS and LT 2WD models is a 5.3-litre V8 with Active Fuel Management, which shuts off half the cylinders under light load for improved fuel economy. Standard on the LS and LT 4WD models, and on the LTZ, is the same engine but with flexible fuel capability for E85; it can also be optioned on the 2WD LS and LT models. The LT and LTZ can be optioned with a 6.0-litre V8 with Active Fuel Management as well. All engines use a four-speed automatic transmission.

All Avalanche models are rated as one-ton trucks, and can be ordered in two- or four-wheel drive, except for the LTZ, which comes only in 4WD.

Features on the LS include 17-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone manual air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, automatic headlights, tire pressure monitoring system, assist steps, three-piece cargo cover, lockable tailgate, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, floor mats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass and exterior temperature display, leather-wrapped tilt wheel with audio controls, six-way power driver’s seat, second-row 60/40 split folding bench seat, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack, and OnStar.

The LT adds one year of OnStar Directions & Connections plan, fog lamps, centre floor console, six-way power passenger seat, and second-row audio controls with headphone jacks.

The LTZ adds 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, ten-way heated leather seats, rear parking assist, remote starter, power-folding mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming, integrating turn signals and reverse tip-down, rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable pedals, garage door opener and six-CD/MP3 Bose stereo with auxiliary jack and XM Satellite Radio.

LT models can also be optioned as the LT2, with remote starter, rear parking assist, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, six-CD stereo and garage door opener; and as the LT3, which adds the LTZ’s full-feature front seats and mirrors, Bose sound system and XM Satellite Radio.

The Avalanche, which is also the base for the Cadillac Escalade EXT, comes with its signature "Midgate", which opens to extend the cargo bed from 1600 mm (63 in.) to 2500 mm (98 in). The cargo box also contains lockable storage compartments with drains, so they can be used as coolers.

Offering a comfortable and well-finished interior, along with good ride quality, the Avalanche is more people-hauler than work truck, and is a popular if pricey choice in the GM line-up. The removable three-piece cargo cover and lockable liftgate provide safe storage, and larger items can be accommodated by opening the Midgate, although it’s a time-consuming and fiddly affair. It’s enough work that you probably won’t want to go through it for short jaunts, but thanks to the locking liftgate and cargo cover, it can be safely left open if you don’t need to use the rear seat for passengers. Like the Ford Explorer Sport Trac and Honda Ridgeline, it’s more SUV than truck, but it does both jobs quite well.

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