Revisiting the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year

Do you even remember the controversial truck that was the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche? In the history of pickup trucks, a modern convertible truck was just what the public needed. Most people don’t consider 2002 a noteworthy year for Chevrolet, but it provided the Avalanche, and what more did anyone really need?

What did the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche have to offer buyers?

At the start of 2022, MotorTrend announced that the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche was its Truck Of The Year Winner. For the most part, that was a controversial opinion. MotorTrend calls the Avalanche “a new-think convertible truck for people and stuff.” Pickup trucks were still pretty popular back then, with the Big Three automotive brands selling more trucks than cars or sport utility vehicles in 2001.

“Trucks are today’s go-anywhere/ do-anything-anytime conveyances. They’re asked to provide daily transportation to work, haul clients, shuttle the kids, take the whole gang away for weekends in the woods, and haul home-improvement supplies for those honey-do projects.”

MotorTrend

Pickup trucks must provide versatility and functionality while still having all the safety and convenience of a typical passenger vehicle. That’s what the 2002 Avalanche did well and why MotorTrend gave it the Truck of the Year award.

Some specs for the award-winning 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche

So what makes it worthy of being MotorTrend’s Truck Of The Year for 2002? The 2002 Chevy Avalanche came with an astonishing amount of safety features. A safety-cage construction on a full frame protected passengers outside while seat-mounted safety belts did the work inside. The Avalanche came with dual front airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags as standard features.

Chevy added OnStar to the Avalanch to help alert someone if the vehicle deployed its airbags. It used cellular and GPS technology to do this, all with a starting price of around $30,245 for the base 2WD 1500. Buyers could customize the truck, and the price remained reasonable for the most part. A North Face edition came in at $41,111, but the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche would only run you $39,924.

Chevy built the Avalanche with three hydroformed components and offered it in 11/42-ton (1500) or 31/44-ton (2500) styles. The 1500 received a 5.3L V8 engine with 285 hp mated to a 4L60-E four-speed automatic. For the Avalanche 2500, the 8.1L V8 gets 340 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque.

It seems Chevy’s convertible truck was just ahead of its time

The 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche was MotorTrend's Truck Of The Year
A 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Buyers of the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche could opt for two or four-wheel drive. The four-wheel drive system had five modes, 2HI, AUTO 4WD, 4HI, and 4LOW, to choose from. It was capable off-road in the sand and whatever else you might have come across 20 years ago. The Chevy Avalanche 1500 could tow 8,300 pounds, and the 2500 could tow 12,000 pounds. Those are still pretty respectable towing capacities for any truck.

In the backseat, Chevy made the Avalanche stand out from other trucks with its new (at the time) “Convert-a-Cab” system. A midgate (sort of a tailgate but behind the driver) essentially allowed you to get rid of the second row for more space. This wasn’t the easiest daily process, but it made the Avalanche stand out amongst the competition.

While you might not stumble upon many 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche trucks on your daily commute, this truck had everything buyers might have wanted 20 years ago. In fact, many of the design elements of the Avalanche are popular in modern trucks. Chevy’s convertible truck stuck around until 2013, but the Avalanche could be coming back in 2023