Engaging Avalanche comes with 'if onlys'

Engaging Avalanche comes with 'if onlys' http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20070420/drive20.art.htm
Chevrolet Avalanche, a version of the reengineered full-size pickups and
SUVs that General Motors began selling late last year, has a remarkably engaging driving persona and could be a terrific truck.
If the back seat had more room. And the front seats were more comfortable. And the fuel economy were better.
And if the price for a deluxe version - the one with the stuff you want - weren't creeping so close to $50,000.
Despite those drawbacks, Avalanche has its allure:
.It no longer looks ugly. The redesign that it shares with all of GM's full-size trucks for 2007 helps greatly. Plus, Chevy discontinued the grotesque side cladding.
.It's clever, as always. The modified cargo box has deep, covered side compartments that will hold a lot of beverage containers, some groceries or truck supplies, such as spare oil. They have drains, so you can fill them with ice and use them as coolers. The three-piece hard tonneau cover seals the cargo box, making it useful as an enormous trunk.
The signature feature - movable passenger-compartment rear bulkhead - allows Avalanche to be used for five or six passengers with short box (5 feet, 4 inches) or two or three passengers with long box (8 feet, 2 inches).
.It's a new GM truck. That means it has a premium interior; smooth ride; agile handling, especially for its size; and optional and standard features desirable enough that they can tempt you to overlook drawbacks. For instance: GM's 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. OnStar emergency calling system. Remote-control engine start. Easy-to-program driver information center. Smooth, powerful V-8 engine. Easy-to-use four-wheel drive.
That smooth ride largely is because Avalanche is based on the new GM SUVs, which use comfort-oriented coil springs on the rear suspension, rather than the pickups' leaf springs.
Drawbacks:
.Four-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac and some GMC trucks have six-speed boxes, which typically boost fuel economy 5% or more vs. four-speeds. "Over the next couple of years, you'll see us switch all our four-speeds to six-speeds as we get more availability," says Carl Hillenbrand, product manager for the Chevy Silverado pickup, formerly of Avalanche.
.Rear visibility. The tall tailgate and cargo box block vision, so the $250 rearview camera is almost mandatory. But you can get the camera only if you get thousands of dollars in other options.
.Front seats. Too much lumbar bump. You can't retract it fully as you can in some rival trucks.
.Fuel economy. No better than any other big truck, 12 or 13 mpg around town, despite GM's "active fuel-management" feature. Cylinder cutoff, it's called generically. It shuts off half the cylinders when they're not needed for smoothness or power.
.Head restraints. None for the middle rear rider, a potential safety hazard. On the other hand, the safety belt for that slot is mounted to the back of the seat, positioning it low for a youngster in a booster seat.
.Back-seat room. Too little, despite the generous 39 inches of legroom GM publishes.
It's a fair bet that if you buy an Avalanche, you plan it as a family vehicle, with lots of back-seat room so the kids have squirm-and-sprawl space. You don't get it in any of the new GM trucks.
In comparison, specification sheets show the back seat of a 2007 Toyota Tundra CrewMax pickup has 5 inches more back-seat legroom than Avalanche.
Hillenbrand argues that there's plenty of room in Avalanche's back seat. He says some drivers might compromise it, though, by sliding the front especially far back: "The front seat has 2 more inches of travel, for tall drivers. We changed it at the request of our tall customers, of whom (GM CEO) Rick Wagoner is one." Wagoner is 6 feet, 4 inches.
Still, Hillenbrand acknowledges, "We have been talking about the room in the rear of the Tundra (CrewMax) and are thinking about what that might mean for our future designs."
That rear-seat issue is a heartbreaker, because Avalanche and the rest of the new GM trucks are otherwise remarkably nice to drive and use.
--
I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.
- Margaret Thatcher
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On Fri, 20 Apr 2007 17:28:13 -0400, a rock fell from the sky, hitting Jim Higgins on the head, and inspiring the following:

That's an interesting article. As the owner of an '06 AV, I find it fascinating.

Yeah, that's gonna win a lot of people over. lol
I don't particularly like the cladded models but they're not, "ugly" by any means. Talk about making an opinion into an absolute.

Funny - I never hear anyone complain about rear visibility out of a minivan. Having driven a Kia Sedona for five years, I can tell you that the AV has better visibility than that car.
Camera would be a nice feature, tho. Still, I haven't sqashed too many rice racers in the parking lot....
...I don't think.

WTF are they measuring? I drive mostly city without the AFM and I get around 18 per tank.
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