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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche Overview

Restoring the Good Name of the Word "Versatile"

The English language sometimes suffers in the hands of the wrong people. They're a cruel bunch that—in an attempt to make the product fit the promise— sometimes has to stretch the meaning of words their literal limits. Perhaps the best example is the over use of the word "versatile." You hear it bandied back and forth to describe everything from Sport Utility Vehicles to diet products. So imagine how refreshing it is to road test a product that actually fits the definition of the poor, overused V-word. Chevrolet's Avalanche is part truck, part SUV and versatile beyond words. Put another way, you'll be hard pressed to find another vehicle that can maximize its overall body length as well as the Avalanche does.

If you're not familiar with the Avalanche, here's a quick run down. The Avalanche rests on the C/K full-size pick up platform. It has a four-door cab just like a Crew Cab pickup and five-foot open bed. The difference between a Crew Cab and the Avalanche is a folding center bulkhead called a Midgate that separates the passenger compartment from the cargo hold. The Midgate is divided in two at the base of the rear window, allowing you to fold down the lower half to act as a pass through or to remove the rear window completely and open up the rear passenger area to the cargo bed. All this is accomplished via a three-step process that requires you to flip and fold the rear seats forward, remove and store the rear window and then fold the Midgate down. You'll find your cargo bed goes from five to eight feet, though you will lose the rear seats.

When not in use, the Midgate forms a sturdy, airtight seal that converts the Avalanche's cab into a quiet, comfortable room for up to six adults. The interior cab mirrors that of the Silverado and Suburban, which is to say it's plush and roomy and filled to the brim with power accessories. The overstuffed front seats are like two big lounge chairs that you can opt to have covered in supple leather and outfitted with cup holders, power lumbar support and heated cushions. Between the front bucket seats you'll find an enormous center console with a deep storage bin and top-loading storage tray. If you need more space, the standard 40/20/40 bench seat can accommodate three passengers; when only two persons are occupying the front seat, the wide center section folds down to form a combination storage unit/armrest.

The Avalanche's rear cargo bed is also unique in that it features two large plastic covered cargo bins attached to the top of the bedrails; the bed itself is covered by a multi-piece removable cover that can be broken down and stored inside the cargo bed wall. With the cover in place, the Avalanche's locking rear gate creates a secure compartment where tools and valuables can safely be stored.

The base Avalanche is the 1500 (half ton) and is powered by a beefy 5.3-liter V8 that churns out a very potent 285 horsepower. Not only is this engine amazingly strong, it is as smooth and quiet as any luxury V8. On our highway test, we saw fuel economy figures close to 19-miles per gallon, not bad when you consider the Avalanche's immense bulk. The overdrive transmission has a lot to do with the engine not gulping fuel, a fact you can see for yourself as you observe the tachometer barely breaking 2000 rpm at cruising speed. If you opt for the 2500 model, you'll get an even bigger engine: the massive 8.1-liter V8. With 340 horsepower and an unreal 455 lb-ft. of torque, you can tow behind the Avalanche just about anything that can legally be put on two wheels.

Once you know which engine and options you want, you'll be faced with one more challenge: which trim level to choose. Visiting a Chevy showroom is like being a kid in a toy store the week before your birthday; everything looks so good, you just want to take them all home! But just like then, you only get to pick one. You could go with the base model and use the extra cash to add on some nice options like the premium on-road suspension, or you could choose the rugged Z71 off-road package; there's also a special edition North Face model that features interior cloth seats by North Face, complete with zip off daypacks behind the front buckets. Lastly, there is the de-clad model strips away the plastic side panels to create a very clean, sophisticated looking Avalanche that we think is the most attractive of the lot. Oh, and after all this, you still have to decide if you want 2WD or 4WD. Decisions, decisions.

No matter which model you pick, you won't be disappointed with your Avalanche's performance. In truth, the only problem you may encounter is the number of requests to use your new baby for weekend duties; but as most truck owners have learned, its just something you'll just have to learn to live with.

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