For 2006, the Chevrolet Avalanche undergoes only very minor changes. The catalytic converters have been relocated on the 1500 model; a revised extendable outside rearview mirror is available on the 2500; the OnStar and satellite radio antennas have been combined into a single unit; and all models receive a standard tire pressure monitoring system.

A combination of full-size SUV and pickup truck, the Avalanche features a six-passenger truck cab with a structurally integrated box. A “midgate” divides the two; when it and the rear seats are folded, the Avalanche’s box becomes large enough to accept the ubiquitous 4×8 sheet of plywood. The rear window can also be lowered for ventilation.

The Avalanche – which also appears, over at Cadillac, in more luxurious trim as the Escalade EXT – is available in 1500 (half-ton) or 2500 (three-quarter-ton) configuration, and in LS and LT trim levels. The 1500 can be ordered in two- or four-wheel-drive, the 2500 in 4WD only. The 1500 can also be ordered with an Off-Road package, including skid plate, off-road jounce bumpers, high-capacity air cleaner, rubberized vinyl floor mats and aggressive tires, although it’s hard to understand why it’s offered in a 2WD version, since the whole idea of an off-road vehicle is to go, well, off-road.

The 1500 uses a 5.3-litre V8 that it shares with the Silverado, while the 2500 uses a massive 8.1-litre, big-block V8. Each has its own version of a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.

Features on the LS include a three-piece composite cargo box cover and rubber box mat, fog lights, power heated mirrors, dual-zone manual air conditioning, cruise, rear defogger, leather-wrapped wheel, power windows, 40/20/40 split-bench reclining front seat with six-way power driver adjuster, 60/40 folding rear seat, CD player with six speakers, 16-inch aluminum wheels, power locks and keyless entry.

The LT adds power foldaway mirrors with puddle lights and integrated turn signals, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, HomeLink garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, wheel-mounted stereo and climate controls, high-back front bucket seats with leather inserts, ten-way power adjusters and two-position driver seat memory, and six-CD changer.

Much improved in the looks department when its thick plastic cladding was removed, the Avalanche still isn’t drop-dead gorgeous, but its heavy-duty stance and good proportions make for a truck that looks like it means business. It’s arguably bigger than it needs to be, given that most end up strictly as people-haulers in urban areas, and it’s quite thirsty, but it also offers a ride that’s smoother and more comfortable than most trucks, and the midgate cargo system makes for a versatile vehicle that even includes drain holes in the lockable cargo containers located in the quarter panels, so you can fill them with ice and use them as coolers.

Connect with