Large pickup truck; Built in Mexico
  • crew cab
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,000 – $15,000*


2002 Chevrolet Avalanche


2002 Chevrolet Avalanche


2002 Chevrolet Avalanche interior


2003 Chevrolet Avalanche


2003 Chevrolet Avalanche interior

Pros:
  • Storage space
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Trailer-towing capability
Cons:
  • Fuel economy

For the most part, an Avalanche weds big-SUV passenger room and comfort with big-pickup utility, in an imaginative and surprisingly solid package. Beware of seriously bad weather on really messy roads, though, if the midgate is fully open.

Overview

Chevrolet’s Avalanche could be considered essentially a four-door Crew Cab pickup truck. With four conventional side doors, it might also be viewed as a competitor to conventional full-size pickups, including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Crew Cab, Dodge Ram Quad Cab, and Ford F-150 Super Crew. But the Avalanche is a vehicle with a big difference, ranking as a crossover SUV/pickup with a short bed at the back.

Based upon the full-size Chevrolet Suburban SUV, it uses GM’s innovative “midgate” to separate the passenger and cargo areas. The rear seat folds down and the midgate lowers, to eliminate the usual barrier between the cabin and the bed. Making this move converts the cargo box from its usual 5.3-foot length to a more useful 8.1 feet.

The rear window removes and stores onboard. Bed sidewalls have storage compartments and the tailgate is lockable.

Seating six, the Avalanche had standard bench seating but front buckets were available. Options included leather upholstery, heated front bucket seats, and a power sunroof.

A 5.3-liter V8 engine powers the Avalanche 1500, which has a half-ton payload. The heavy-duty 2500 series gets an 8.1-liter V8, along with a bigger gas tank (37.5 gallons rather than the 1500’s 31-gallon size). Both models work with a four-speed automatic transmission.

An Avalanche might have rear-wheel drive with optional traction control, or GM’s AutoTrac four-wheel-drive system that included low-range gearing and could be left engaged on dry pavement. The 2WD 1500 offered rear self-leveling and a Z66 onroad suspension package, while 4×4 models could get a Z71 offroad suspension.

Front side airbags and antilocking all-disc brakes were standard. GM’s OnStar emergency/communications system was an option. An Avalanche 1500 could be equipped with “North Face” trim, created in cooperation with the outdoor clothing/equipment maker.

Towing capacity is 8,300 pounds on the 1500 model, and 12,000 with the 2500. Cadillac offered a luxury Escalade EXT model with the same “midgate” construction but different styling and standard all-wheel drive.

Yearly Updates

2003 Avalanche
Though standard in the Avalanche’s first season, front side airbags slipped to option status for 2003, part of a Personal Security group that also included GM’s OnStar system. The dashboard was redesigned, and a rear-seat DVD-based video entertainment joined the options list. Other new options included power-adjustable pedals and an XM Satellite Radio setup.
2004 Avalanche
Antiskid control is newly available on 2WD models of the crossover pickup for ’04.
2005 Avalanche
GM’s OnStar assistance became standard during the ’05 model year. New ’05 options include an integrated audio/navigation system with touch screen and a chrome package with LS trim.
2006 Avalanche
No changes for the 2006 Avalanche.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

A 5.3-liter V8 went into the Avalanche 1500, making 285 horsepower. The Avalanche 2500 got an 8.1-liter V8 that produced 340 horsepower. A four-speed automatic transmission served both engines.

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.3/327
Engine HP 285
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 325
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

14/18

12.9

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 8.1/496
Engine HP 340
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 455
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

NA

Road Test

Uniqueness is the Avalanche’s main attraction, though its driving qualities are more appealing than some might expect. Acceleration is much like the Suburban’s. That’s no surprise, since an Avalanche has similar weight and the same smooth, strong V8 with a silky, responsive automatic transmission and useful Tow/Haul mode.

Fuel economy earns no prizes. A test 4WD 1500 averaged just 12.9 mpg, though both engines use regular fuel.

Ride quality is comfortable even with the firm Z71 package. A long wheelbase helps the Avalanche ignore most small bumps, and it’s less jarring than most true pickup trucks over big ruts and crests. Still, big bumps can induce some “float” or pitching.

Steering and handling are like the Suburban’s, meaning it’s a pleasant highway cruiser and agile for its size and weight, despite too-numb steering. Braking is strong and stable, but spongy pedal action on test models did not inspire confidence.

Although the engine roars at full throttle, an Avalanche is quite refined overall. Removing the rear window, or dropping the midgate, increases noise levels, but not unduly so.

Instruments/controls are identical to the Suburban’s and mostly very good. So is the driving position. Inherited flaws include tight access to power controls on the side of front seat bases, and GM’s typical low-budget plastic in too many places.

High tail trim hides any nearby object dead astern. Over-the-shoulder visibility is a bit obscured, but not bad. There’s plenty of adult-size space up front, but also a fairly high step-in. The bench seat is nothing special, but optional buckets are comfortable.

Even with the midgate fully down, there’s a tolerably mild inside breeze at highway speeds. Rear step-in is pretty lofty, and leg room isn’t quite Suburban-ample, but space is adequate for three grownups, extravagant for two.

An Avalanche hauls what most big pickups can, though the back seat and midgate must be folded for bulky or long loads like 4×8 plywood sheets. Midgate/window removal is straightforward and quick. The hose-it-down cargo box has a tough composite-plastic liner, thick nonslip rubber mat, twin lamps that also light the lockable side storage boxes, eight tiedowns, water drains, and a gravel trap.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 2WD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 9
90%
Room/Comfort Rear - 8
80%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 58

Specifications

crew cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
130.0 221.7 79.8 73.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
31.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.7 38.6 41.3 38.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Blower motor
Description: Blower may not operate or may run on with key off requiring revised blower motor control module. (2003-05)
Engine knock
Description: The engine (4.8L, 5.3L, or 6.0L) may knock for up to 30 seconds after a cold start. GM says this may be due to carbon buildup and is reportedly not harmful to the engine. (2002)
Engine noise
Description: Due to corrosion of the knock sensor on the rear bank, the 5.7-litre engine may suffer from spark knock (ping) that gets worse on hard acceleration, illuminating the “check engine” light. (2002)
Engine noise
Description: Some of the rocker-arm bearings may fail. The first indication may be needle bearings found in the oil when it is drained. All 16 rocker arms should be replaced. (2002)
Transmission slippage
Description: The transmission may slip or there may be no 3rd or 4th gear (possibly accompanied by illumination of the “check engine” light) due to plugging of one of the shift solenoid valves. (2002)
Water leak
Description: A water leak at the rear corner of the cargo box requires resealing of the catch cup. (2002)

Recall History

2000-04
Description: The tailgate support cables may corrode, resulting in the sudden loss of the tailgate. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2002
Description: In environmentally corrosive areas of specified “salt belt” states, unwanted antilock braking activation may occur, causing increased stopping distance during low-speed brake application.
2003
Description: In certain extreme impacts frame cross member could tear fuel tank resulting in fuel leakage. Dealers will install a fuel-tank shield on affected vehicles.
2003
Description: Certain vehicles may have been produced with an out-of-specification brake relief valve, making steering difficult when braking. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2003-05
Description: Seatbelt routing for second-row center occupant may make it difficult to position the lap portion of the belt low around the occupant’s hips.
2004-05
Description: w/Bosch Hydro-Boost brake assembly: Hydraulic brake booster pressure accumulator may crack and separate during normal operating conditions, possibly issuing fragments and allowing fluid leakage.
2005
Description: Under certain vehicle-starting conditions, shift-lever position indicator in instrument panel may not illuminate.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.