The final announcement has been given — this will be the last year of the Chevy Avalanche, according to a recent press release issued by General Motors. The 2013 model year will be the end of the line for one of the first comfort-prioritized pickup truck derivatives.
When introduced for the 2002 model year, nothing looked or acted like the Avalanche with its unique styling and segment-first midgate that broke through what was traditionally a solid wall between the bed and cab. Perhaps more important, its overall design changed the way truck buyers understood what kind of tradeoffs they had to accept. No longer did they have to view their pickup as a ride and comfort compromise.
This new concept of a well-equipped light-duty four-door pickup that could tow, haul and carry the family attracted enough interest to produce as many as 93,482 sales in 2003, its third full year of production. Recognizing the appeal, other truckmakers began developing light-duty crew cab pickups as well. Now, nearly 65 percent of all light-duty pickup sales are trucks with four full-size doors, and the unique look, clever bed storage and removable hardtop just added to its tremendous flexibility.
Through it all, the Avalanche retained a core of passionate fans who still appreciate its style, comfort and versatility. Two big highlights for the Avalanche include being named the 2002 Motor Trend Truck of the Year when first introduced and also the 2007 Truck of the Year by the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (the same year it released the new second-generation Avalanche).
The vehicle was originally offered in both half-ton and 3/4-ton configurations, but when the second-generation model was designed, GM could no longer afford to allow the low-volume option. Today, it is available in LS, LT and LTZ models, with 2WD and 4WD, and has always used the Suburban platform as its underpinnings.
Storage compartments alongside the bed area provide a good amount of usable and lockable storage with drains that can weep moisture in case the box is filled with ice and used as a drink cooler.
As noted, the Avalanche is based on GM’s full-size Suburban/Yukon XL SUV platform, offering a maximum towing capacity of 8,100 pounds (3,674 kg). It is powered by the Vortec 5.3L V-8 with cylinder-deactivating Active Fuel Management technology and a Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic.
In honor of this bitter/sweet celebration, GM is offering the 2013 Black Diamond special edition. The package will offer body-colored bed surrounds, unique badging, extra features on LS and LT models, and a lower overall price across the lineup.
“More than 580,000 Avalanches have been sold since its introduction in late 2001, and Avalanche has won major awards and recognitions throughout its run,” said Mark Clawson, Avalanche marketing manager. “So it is only fitting that Avalanche retires on a high note.”
For 2013, a backup camera, rear park assist, power-adjustable pedals, fog lamps and remote start will be added as standard equipment on LS models, while LT models have added a standard backup camera. Base prices are reduced $2,500 (after equipment adjustments) with the 2WD Avalanche LS, which now starts at $35,980 (excluding $995 for shipping).
“Although Avalanche sales have tapered off in recent years, as crew cabs have grown to dominate Silverado sales, we know there are many Avalanche enthusiasts among Chevy customers,” said Clawson “The Black Diamond Avalanche is our way of saying ‘Thank you’ and making it just a little more attractive to own one more Avalanche.”
Of course, just like the Avalanche is supported by the Suburban, which is soon to be redesigned with the new Silverado platform, so too is the Cadillac EXT on its way out. Steadily declining sales has made the Cadillac pickup truck the obvious candidate for removal from the lineup. Don't expect to see the EXT last beyond the 2013 model year either.
Will there be something, somewhere in the GM truck linuep to take its place? We think it's much more likely GM will invest in more car-based fence-sitting models with smaller, more fuel-efficient engines that will still be able to carry a heavy load. With Mark Reuss at the helm (remember, he understands the Australian market quite well), we're guessing Chevy may try out some creative solutions — like the Avalanche was a creative solution 10 years ago — in the next several years.
The Avalanche was introduced at the 2000 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a concept and was described as a no-compromise Chevy truck with a unique combination of configurable passenger and cargo space. Does anyone recognize the gentleman standing behind the passenger door? The production Avalanche was positioned as an Ultimate Utility Vehicle (UUV) when it went on sale in 2001 as a 2002 models.
A special Avalanche was equipped to protect and transport the Olympic Flame during the Torch Relay prior to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City; the relay covered more than 13,500 miles and passed through 46 states on its way to the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 8, 2002.
In 2006, Chevrolet introduced an all-new Avalanche with a fully boxed frame and redesigned suspension to deliver more refined ride and handling; a new Z71 off-road package was introduced and front featured special off-road tires, unique grille and fascia, an integrated front bumper winch and oversize tow hooks.
Chevrolet teamed with outdoor outfitter North Face and offered a special edition Avalanche in 2002 that was used to transport a team of kayakers through the rugged terrain of the Himalayas to the Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet, where they successfully accomplished first descent of the most-feared whitewater on the planet.