2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Bob McHugh

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Vancouver, British Columbia – While hybrid and crossover vehicles have become commonplace these days, the second-generation Chevrolet Avalanche is still quite unique – a transformable two-in-one vehicle. A comfortable utility vehicle with seating for five or six passengers, it converts to an open-back pickup truck with a big cargo bed that can swallow a 4×8 sheet of plywood.

Built on GM’s new full-sized SUV (Suburban) platform, the new Avalanche returns as a smoother, quieter and a more refined vehicle for the ’07 model year. Although general safety features have also been enhanced, I discovered some disappointing child restraint fitment issues (more later).

Available in LS, LT and LTZ models, the Avalanche can be ordered with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive systems. The engine is matched with the drive system.

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ. Click image to enlarge

The standard engine is a 5.3-litre V8 with Active Fuel Management technology that seamlessly switches from eight-cylinder to four-cylinder operation to save fuel. An aluminum block version of the 5.3-litre V8 is standard with the 4WD version, and a new 6.0-litre V8 engine, also with Active Fuel Management, is expected later in the model year.

My red Avalanche was an LTZ ($53,575) that came with an entertainment package ($1,255) and a power sunroof ($1,325), which upped the total price to $56,155. The entertainment package included an upgraded audio system with an auxiliary input jack and a rear DVD player with two wireless headphones.


New styling, roomy interior with “Midgate”

It’s not a dramatic change in looks, but the new Avalanche does have a windshield with a steeper slant, the front grille and headlights are different, and the fenders have more stylish integrated flares over bigger wheels (20-inch on the LTZ).

Flush-mounted windows, tighter body panel gaps and easier to grab door handles are more subtle improvements. Noteworthy is a tailgate that’s now spring-loaded to make it easier to close.
Inside, the removable “Midgate” panel between cab and cargo box is the clever feature that allows the Avalanche to switch personalities. Fold down the rear seats, open the Midgate, and it becomes a pickup with an enclosed cargo box. Remove the rear glass and box cover and it’s a completely open pickup truck.

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ. Click image to enlarge

My Avalanche came with beige leather upholstery and nice wood trim. The seats are wide, supportive and very comfortable. The driver’s seat had a moveable and adjustable lumbar support and separate seat heaters for the backrest and seat cushion.

As with all big trucks you have to step high to get inside, but once on-board it’s a very roomy place. The glovebox offers surprisingly limited storage, but a huge centre console box makes amends.

In terms of passenger safety, the body has a stronger structure and there’s a new optional side-curtain air bag system with roll mitigation technology. If a roll-over is imminent these side curtain bags deploy and remain inflated for a while, unlike conventional airbags.

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ. Click image to enlarge

Installing a forward-facing child seat in the rear seat is not easy. The rear seat cushion had to be lifted and the seat back folded forward in order to access the tether anchors. With the anchor hook attached, the seat is then moved back in place with the child seat on it. In addition to this juggling act, you then had to reach behind the seat and pull the tether strap up, in order to tighten it – easier said than done.

The lower (UAS) anchorages were another problem as they were almost impossible to use. It was extremely difficult to attach connectors to the anchorages provided, due to the stiff leather upholstery surrounding the locations. The cloth upholstered versions may be better.


Driving impressions

The biggest improvement over the previous generation Avalanche is, without a doubt, the new stiffer chassis, which provides a better ride, handling feel and noise reduction. The transformation is impressive, but you have to drive or ride in this Avalanche to fully appreciate these improvements.

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ. Click image to enlarge

Although it didn’t have a telescopic steering column, I had no problem finding a comfortable driver’s position. Both the power adjustable pedals and power driver seat cushion height certainly helped.

Rear vision, especially when parking, is not great (for a truck), due to the design of the rear window and a high cargo box with a cover. My test Avalanche came with a park assist (well worth having) with audible warning tones, and big side mirrors with built-in turn signal lights.

I was lucky enough to have a 4X4 Avalanche during a winter snow dump, here on the coast, and was very impressed. The driver can choose two-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive or locked four-wheel-drive in both high and low gear ratios, at the push of a button. It really can do it all, and without any fuss.

On the highway, the engine is exceptionally smooth and quiet at cruising speeds. At 100 km/h on the highway, the tachometer was floating at about 2000 rpm, which tells me it’s fairly long-geared (for economy). Natural Resources Canada fuel economy figures are 15.4 L/100 km city, and 10.4 L/100 km highway. It makes some really good sounds when you stomp on the gas pedal but it’s actually not that fast (9.3 sec to 100 km/h at AJAC Canadian Car of the Year test) even though it has 310 horsepower – yes, it’s a heavy vehicle.

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ
2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ. Click image to enlarge

I missed not having a dead pedal to rest my left foot and another minor irritation was the hard-to-find release handle for the pedal-type park brake. While the rear window generally stays dry (due to its sheltered position), if it does need a wipe, it’s hard to reach.

The Avalanche offers 3,629 kg (8,000-lb) towing capacity and the max payload is 606 kg (1,337 lb). The four-speed automatic transmission has a tow-mode setting that’s activated by a button on the shift lever.


Verdict

Still unique, the 2007 Chevy Avalanche may not look too different, but it has improved in almost every other way – as long as you’re not planning to fit a child seat in it.


Pricing: 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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Competitors

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  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Nissan Titan
  • Toyota Tundra


Crash test results


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