KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
First introduced for 2002, the Avalanche combined a full-size SUV body with a pickup truck's cargo bed. The second generation launched in 2007 continues for 2009 with a host major improvements and the addition of a more fuel-efficient six-speed automatic transmission. The Chevrolet Avalanche is built on GM's full-size SUV platform, which is also used for the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL, and it offers gasoline as well as Flex-Fuel (E85) capability. Refined small-block 5.3-liter V8 engines are standard, and a 6.0-liter V8 that uses variable valve timing is optionally available. Three trim levels are offered: LS, LT, and LTZ (with the LT level further divided into LT1, LT2 and LT3) and with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you regularly pull a boat or trailer and also need the cargo capabilities of a pickup truck, along with abundant passenger space and comfort, remember that a properly-equipped Avalanche can tow up to 8,000 pounds. With its versatile Midgate configuration, the 2009 Avalanche can be set up to carry long loads (including four-by-eight-foot plywood sheets) or, with rear seatbacks raised, to hold a full complement of passengers.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If gas mileage is a major concern, you might be better off with a different sort of vehicle, because the Avalanche is not frugal, even with the Active Fuel Management System. Piloting an Avalanche through crowded urban streets is no picnic because of the vehicle's bulk, though maneuverability is better than some might expect.
What's New for 2009
Major changes include a new six-speed automatic transmission and revised rear gear ratio for maximum fuel efficiency. OnStar 8.0 now offers Stolen Vehicle Slow Down, Bluetooth and turn-by-turn downloads on vehicles equipped with DVD navigation. LTZ trims receive even more standard equipment including heated and cooled 12-way power seats and a Surround Sound Bose speaker system.
Compared to the first-generation Avalanche, the 2009 model has an impressive level of refinement. On good roads the suspension absorbs most imperfections, delivering an almost cushiony ride but not at the expense of control or security, and the Avalanche takes curves with a high level of stability. Acceleration is more rapid than it may feel, because power flow is so smooth. The automatic transmission shifts in an easy and positive manner, with a brief delay for acceleration to pass or merge. Steering is on the light side, but not effortless, and the vehicle has an impressively tight turning circle.
Active Fuel Management System
Chevrolet is by no means alone in offering cylinder deactivation, but it's a welcome addition to these heavyweight vehicles, which are known for consuming substantial quantities of gasoline.
True pickup-truck fans might shun the Avalanche's relatively short cargo bed and SUV foundation, but the Midgate gives it a degree of versatility that's absent from traditional pickups.
With its Midgate closed, the 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche can seat up to six passengers. Folding down the rear seat yields the greatest cargo-hauling capacity. Compared to the first-generation Avalanche, the 2009 model provides better passenger space via a lower instrument panel and deeper windshield. Front-row seats have gained an inch of rearward travel. On LT and LTZ trims, a monster console separates front-seat occupants, who have a remarkably generous amount of space. The rear seat folds flat, rear-seat occupants enjoy more shoulder space and three fit easily, though the center position is a bit hard. Seatbacks are somewhat firm, but deliver above-average comfort. Gauges are easy to read at a glance.
As with the original, the 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche's Midgate opens to extend cargo-bed length from 5.3 feet to 8.2 feet. With improved aerodynamics and a strengthened chassis, the monochromatic exterior features wraparound fascias that eliminate bumper-to-body gaps. Storage compartments alongside the cargo box include drains and provide lockable space and a three-piece rigid cargo cover with interlocking panels is available. A sleek windshield angle extends into a smooth roofline, the front air dam is low and wide and prominent fenders with integrated wheel flares complement the bulging power-dome hood. A wide front and rear track enhance stability.
Notable Standard Equipment
In base LS trim, the Avalanche includes remote keyless entry, heated power mirrors, a cloth-upholstered 40/20/40 split-bench front seat with power on both the driver's and passenger's sides, side steps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear privacy glass, the StabiliTrak stability-enhancement system, head curtain side-impact airbags and 17-inch tires on five-spoke aluminum wheels. GM's Autoride suspension, with real-time damping for reduced body motion, is standard on the LTZ, as is a limited-slip differential and 20-inch wheels and tires. The LTZ and various levels of the LT group also include remote engine starting, rear obstacle detection, leather upholstery and power-adjustable pedals. All versions of the Avalanche include GM's OnStar 8.0.
Notable Optional Equipment
The Z71 Off-Road Package includes 18-inch wheels, the Z71 suspension, tubular assist steps, locking rear differential and a skid-plate package. Available articulated running boards automatically move downward and outward as the doors are opened. Individual options, depending upon trim level, include Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist, a rearview camera system, 6.0-liter V8, navigation system, DVD backseat entertainment system with an eight-inch screen, XM Satellite Radio with real time traffic assist for navigation equipped models and 20-inch wheels.
Under the Hood
The standard engine is a Vortec 5.3-liter V8, matched to a four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission. Four-wheel-drive models use a version which can operate on E85 or gasoline. A 366-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8 with variable valve timing is optional. Under certain conditions, Active Fuel Management Technology lets the engine run on four cylinders to save fuel.
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, gas)
5.3-liter V8 Flex-Fuel (aluminum block)
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, gas), 10/15 (2WD, E85), 14/19 (4WD, gas), 11/14 (4WD, E85)
366 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
376 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19
In LS trim with rear-wheel drive the 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $35,000. A midlevel Avalanche LT stickers for about $36,000, while a fully-loaded LTZ with four-wheel drive can approach $55,000. The Fair Purchase Price, which represents what consumers are actually paying, is likely to be significantly lower. Be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to check what the Avalanche is currently selling for in your area. In terms of resale value, we predict that over time the 2009 Avalanche will hold similar values to the 1500 Silverado Extended Cab, Honda Ridgeline and Ford F150 SuperCab, and outperform the Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab and Nissan Titan.