Trucks

The Chevy Avalanche Was a Victim of Its Own Success

The Chevy Avalanche is a great example of being too good at your job. Chevrolet began production of the Avalanche in 2001 and it was the only truck of its kind. Officially dubbed a Sport Utility Truck, the Avalanche was the mullet of pickup trucks: an SUV in the front with a pickup bed in the back.

It combined the best of both SUVs and trucks, giving you a full back seat with room for three, plus the convenience of a short bed. And with a few tricks up its sleeve, it quickly became a fan favorite. So what made Chevy get rid of it in 2013?

A Chevy Avalanche on display at the Chevrolet offices.
The Chevy Avalanche | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

What made the Chevy Avalanche so special

The Chevy Avalanche was one of the first trucks to come in a crew cab model. People could suddenly have the convenience and power of a pickup truck with a full-size rear seat, giving enough space to seat the whole family.

The last model made in 2013, the Black Diamond edition, came equipped with a 5.3L V8 engine that gets 320 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque. So you had the size and comfort of an SUV, with the power of a light-duty truck.

One thing that Avalanche owners loved was the mid-gate pass-through that combined the rear of the cabin with the bed to give you an eight-foot bed instead of the five-foot one you already had on the exterior.

The rear window could be removed and stored safely in a compartment behind the seats, which then folded down to extend the bed into the cabin. The ability to have a full-size bed when you need it is something that’s never really been brought back by Chevy or anyone else, but it’s the one thing that Avalanche fans have always missed.

But the Avalanche’s success brought about its own demise

The Avalanche was an unexpectedly big hit for Chevrolet. It recorded over 93,000 sales in 2003 and sparked the interest of other manufacturers, who began to produce other light-duty crew cab pickups. These quickly overtook the market and by 2011, crew cabs totaled more than 65% of light-duty pickup sales.

In 2004, Chevrolet added a crew cab option to the Silverado lineup thanks to the success of the Avalanche. However, this move put the two trucks in direct competition with one another.

Chevy eventually decided that the trucks were too similar to keep producing both, so the company did away with the Avalanche and re-focused the budget toward the Silverado.

The Avalanche still holds up

With how quickly the auto industry changes, it’s understandable that the Avalanche was doomed to its short life simply because a lot of vehicles end up the same way. Manufacturers take what’s successful about one type of truck and combine it with what’s successful in another and opt to stop producing one of them to save money and charge more for the new one.

While you can’t get a new Avalanche anymore, a used model still ranks highly for truck owners. Edmunds reviewers rated the 2012 model at 4.8/5 stars and their experts were particularly impressed with the level of comfort you get in the passenger areas.

The quirky mid-gate transition is still a beloved feature, giving you the option to treat the truck as an SUV or a pickup based on what your needs each day might be.

Older models are easy to find for sale under $10,000 and are as reliable and as safe as most newer trucks, but you’ll take a hit in the fuel efficiency with the 2007 model only getting about 13 mpg combined. This unique truck certainly has a fan following, so it’s safe to assume that a used one will have been well taken care of!