$14,659 - $20,819

2011 Chevrolet Avalanche Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche was new.


Performance: 7.2

Even though the Avalanche is labeled a Sport Utility Truck, its performance seems to be more trucklike than sport-ute. It has great towing and hauling capacities, and is even a capable off-roader, but reviewers say its ride isn’t smooth enough for most SUV shoppers. Overall, its 5.3-liter V8 engine is adequate but unimpressive. Journalists also have a hard time maneuvering the Avalanche in heavy traffic, parking lots, and crowded city streets because of its large size and poor visibility.

  • "Available with rear- or four-wheel-drive, the Avalanche rides and handles like a truck and gets poor fuel mileage.” -- Motor Trend 
  • "Smooth ride quality, decent steering and brake feel, but its responses are ponderous. Best kept on the interstate.” -- Car and Driver 

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers say that overall, the Avalanche’s 5.3-liter Vortec V8 engine is adequate. This engine is the Avalanche’s only available powerplant, and puts 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque to the ground via a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates that both the two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Avalanche gets 15/21 mpg city/highway, which is better for most SUVs and trucks of this size, especially those with four-wheel drive.

  • "Acceleration is more than adequate at all speeds, aided by the smooth-shifting transmission. There's no noticeable difference between rear- and 4WD models, despite the latter being heavier.” -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Without a full load, the 5.3-liter V8 under the hood of the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche gives the big truck better-than-average acceleration.” -- Edmunds 
  • "If gas mileage is a major concern, you might be better off with a different sort of vehicle, because the Avalanche is not frugal, even with the Active Fuel Management System." -- Kelley Blue Book 

Handling and Braking

As is expected for a big truck, the Avalanche loses points with the automotive press because it’s difficult to maneuver. Reviewers note its surprisingly smooth ride and strong brakes.

  • “On good roads the suspension absorbs most imperfections, delivering an almost cushiony ride but not at the expense of control or security, and the Avalanche takes curves with a high level of stability." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Needless to say, reviewers credit the LTZ for having the most comfortable ride of the three trim levels, though most agree that even the lower trims demonstrate a surprising competence in dealing with all but the roughest roads.” -- Car Gurus
  • "The steering has good feel, though effort is somewhat high during low-speed maneuvers. The brakes are responsive, with a short, firm pedal stroke. Avalanche, a long truck with a sizable turning radius, is a challenge to park in tight spaces.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "As with all big trucks, the Avalanche's main downside is its plus-sized dimensions, which can make it a handful in heavy traffic and tight spaces.” -- Edmunds 

Towing and Hauling

Reviewers praise the Avalanche's towing and hauling capabilities. While it's not the best choice if you’re a contractor looking for a heavy duty workhorse, the Avalanche can easily handle most tasks that weekend warriors send its way. It has a capable four-wheel drive system, its 5.3-liter V8 can tow up to 8,100 pounds, and can haul a payload of up to 1,598 pounds. With the midgate in place, the Avalanche features a short cargo box measuring 5.3 feet. Fold the midgate and the rear seat, and the cargo box extends to 8.2 feet.

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