Friday, June 11, 2010


We had this need for a truck that could pull, and being the type of people we were at that time, we went for comfort. Might I recommend that you do not make the same mistake that we did. Although the Chevy Avalanche is, without a doubt one of the most comfortable trucks I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in, the Z66 model has about as much usefulness in inclement weather as a broken umbrella.

I’ll preface this review by saying that when we bought the Z66, we were living in sunny Tucson, AZ so inclement weather was not something we were altogether worried about. I will state however that the giant, black truck with heated seats in that particular environment was a little absurd, but in Tucson it’s either hot and dry enough to fry and egg on the hood or raining torrentially enough that you shouldn’t be out driving anyway. In the hot, dry, one does not need to worry about how well their car operates in mud or snow, and in the torrential rain, well either you make it though the flooded washes or you don’t. And if you’ve ever been in the dessert during a monsoon, you should really know to stay out of the flooded washes. Any way, the upshot is that the Z66 was fine for our driving-only purposes in that environment, what it wasn’t all that fine for was our towing need. Of course if I knew then what I know now, we never would have made this particular purchase, but I didn’t, and we did, so instead of a truck that did what we needed it to, we got a good story.

The Z66 Avalanche is the 2 wheel drive, tricked out version of the truck. It is basically a really hot looking vehicle with little usefulness outside of a city environment. Our Z66 had leather interior, power doors, windows, locks and seat adjustment for the driver, adjustable pedals, and just about every possible luxury element that you could think a truck to have. The problem was that it wasn’t powerful enough even with the V8 engine to pull what we needed to pull (shame on us for believing the sales guy) without causing us both to learn forward in a misguided attempt to help get up the hills. Additionally, although this may be different now the fuel economy on this vehicle was horrible. On a good day we got 15 MPG on the highway and when we were towing it was something like 6 MPG. No lie. Our ownership of this particular vehicle overlapped with the $4/gal gas prices and therefore it cost over $100 every time we filled the tank. Add that onto the over $20,000 we paid for the used vehicle (the 2010 models are over $40,000 new), and what you have is a very expensive endeavor.

On the positive side, the very expensive ride was also a very comfortable ride. The trips taken across the country in it were done so in great luxury. The back seat is roomy enough for an average sized woman to lie down and sleep. This particular feature came in handy on more than one occasion. Even my in-laws are convinced the Z66 Avalanche is the most comfortable vehicle in the universe. Unfortunately however it is not a model meant for anything other than pavement. In AZ, not a problem. In NH, a big problem.

This truck does not operate in the snow. It also does not operate in the mud. I would have thought that the weight of the truck alone would have made it capable of driving up a muddy driveway. I wasn’t talking about going off-roading, just getting into our condo parking lot. Alas, it was not meant to be. Many a day went by that, taking her life into her hands, my lovely wife, accelerated wildly in the hopes of hitting the left turn at speeds elevated enough to make it up the hill. She usually made it. If it were me driving I would have ended up in a ditch. Since in NH the road conditions from November to May range from snow to ice to mud and back again with a great deal of regularity, a vehicle that does not operate in these conditions, will leave you walking…a lot.

We decided after one winter in the Northeast that we should sell it and get something useful, but apparently everyone in NH and MA already knew what we had just found out. The Z66 Avalanche is not the most appropriate vehicle for these here parts. We ended up selling it in SC where the weather is accommodating to a truck with those features 364 days out of the year (unless you go mudding in which case you need to reconsider). I am happy to report that we sold the Z66 Avalanche to a lovely woman who was as excited to buy it as we were at first. Here’s hoping she stays in SC, because should she ever have occasion to move north, I have no doubt we’ll be able to hear the disappointment from here.

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