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Drew Dowdell

Test Drive: 2007 Chevy Avalanche Z71

9 posts in this topic

I currently own a 2003 Avalanche. Prior to my purchase of this truck, I was very anti-SUV. I only purchased the truck out of necessity for the management and maintenance of my apartment business. I picked the Avalanche because it was by far the most versatile truck on the market.

Since then, I've grown to love the truck so much I can't imagine not having one. I do have my gripes, but lets talk about the new one.

The Good

The interior upgrade is phenomenal, but anyone with eyes and working fingers can tell that. I never gave much thought to the interior of my '03 because I've always considered it a "work" truck...even though it's a loaded Z71. The switchgear in this truck feels solid and rugged without feeling hard. The dash layout is mostly good, though the Nav/Radio could stand to be a bit higher. Climate control is ice cold... a minor complaint I've had with the '03 is that it sometimes struggles to heat/cool the cabin. Seats are firmer... which most of you might consider a good thing... but the seats in the Avalanche were perfect and really didn't need to be improved. In taking long trips, Chas and I would generally prefer the Avalanche over the CTS for comfort... it was only the gas mileage that gave us pause. Active Fuel management works seamlessly. When you set the DIC to readout instant economy, you get an indicator for V8 or V4 mode. Moderate uphill grades put the truck back into V8 mode. I have the feeling here in Pittsburgh, I wouldn't get too much use out of V4. I have an E85 station near my house.... this Avalanche would be a regular visitor there. The truck is still very nimble and doesn't feel as large as it really is in tight maneuvers. The 5.3 in this new truck sounded much more hushed and smooth than my own.

The Bad

The ride has stiffened considerably compared to my Z71. Think '02 STS v. '04 CTS. Again it's a comfort thing. I don't need a stiff suspension in this vehicle. That's what the CTS is for.

The damn 4-speed auto!!! The one thing I was hoping would be overcome by the slightly more powerful engine. The transmission still has that annoying hesitate/hunt around 45-50mph. Feels damn fast off the line, then you get into bog down land, then above 55 it's all happy sailing again. I've never been much of an anti-4speed kinda guy, but in this application the deficiency really shows.

Overall

The original Avalanche didn't need much in terms of hardware. The interior wasn't class leading, but also not bad. The versatility has yet to be matched. This new Avalanche keeps all the great things about the previous truck and improved on many areas, but that transmission is a glaring omission. That said, I've been wanting to trade up to a new Avalanche, but it's not something I'll move to till my one major complaint about my existing truck has been resolved.

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Had a very similar reaction to my test drive in a new '07 Yukon SLT 4wd that was fully decked out, coming from both an '02 Avalanche and now an '04 Suburban.

The new truck just felt SO much more solid and substantial, both in material quality and just the way it felt on the road. Steering was MUCH better, and the brakes were no longer miserable as so many of the GMT-800's were known for, and I was just as comfortable in the seat as in the sublime '99-06 seats, but still did miss having the individual armrests and not just the console lid.

Power wise it felt more refined, and not as twitchy or jumpy, and shifted better as well, but overall felt about the same all around--i.e., strong at most speeds, but yes, a kind of dead spot right around the usual cruising range largely due to that wide gapped 4-spd. Ride wise also felt exactly as firm as the older trucks, but not as skittish or bouncy at times, and overall more settled over a large range of undulating and broken pavement that would have the old style buzzing a bit.

My exact words to describe it to my father on the phone later that day was "take mom's '04 Suburban, make the fit & finish 10x better, make everything feel and sound more substantial, add extra insulation and finally change the brakes and steering to be linear and solid like a great car, and that's what it was like."

Still, not perfect, but an incredible improvement over the last gen trucks that, although terrible in regards to general fit & finish and interior materials, were some of the best in terms of refinement, comfort, and general classy looks. Get the 6-spd in there NOW, even bump the power up a bit more--the 5.3L's number is nice, but it still can be a bit weak in the larger models when loaded--or just expand the 6.0L availability, and keep the colors and options fresh, and it'll continue to do well.

Edited by caddycruiser
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What is your one major complaint about your existing truck ? Did I miss it?

The damn 4-speed auto!!! The one thing I was hoping would be overcome by the slightly more powerful engine. The transmission still has that annoying hesitate/hunt around 45-50mph. Feels damn fast off the line, then you get into bog down land, then above 55 it's all happy sailing again. I've never been much of an anti-4speed kinda guy, but in this application the deficiency really shows.

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Good review but I would rather have a Tahoe or Silverados still. A friend of mine ordered a Orange LTZ with 20's and Nav/Moonroof he just loves it!

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Ohhhh! I thought you were talking about the new truck! :banghead:

I am.... my problem with the new truck is that my one major complaint about my old truck <the transmission issue described above> is still there in the new one.

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I am.... my problem with the new truck is that my one major complaint about my old truck <the transmission issue described above> is still there in the new one.

08 or 09 should have the new 6speed option i think probably 09

but in my opinion the old 5.3 was faster then the new one... just cause the exhaust opens up a little bit and your lurched forward... i think 1st gear is more timid then the 06's

but thats just my assesment... and everyone at the dealership...

they were going for fuel ecconomy, so you dont get the same raw acceloration that you did with the previous models... maybe it just seems like it... who knows

like my best friends sister... goes to upgrade lt1 to ls1... are you sure this is a v8...? it sure doesnt sound like one...

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