A year ago, we looked at some vehicles that had ambitious goals and yet fell short in one way or another. We argued that those four vehicles deserved another chance. Now, let’s focus on pickups that also meet those criteria. Here are eight pickups that offered up cargo hauling with some blend of comfort, fuel economy, or off-road prowess, but which nevertheless fell by the wayside as the tried-and-true crew-cab pickup swallowed the market. Is there room in today’s market for any of these to stage a comeback?
Chevrolet Avalanche (2001–13)
When the Avalanche debuted, it offered a novel solution for those who needed both passenger- and cargo-carrying capacity. Chevrolet’s solution was the Mid-Gate, which enabled the partition between the cab and bed to fold down and the backlite to stow, allowing for the rear seats to give way to an 8-foot cargo bed. Admittedly it had its drawbacks; dropping the Mid-Gate opened the passenger cabin to the elements unless the multi-piece tonneau was left in place. On the other hand, with the tonneau off, it was the closest we’ve come to duplicating the K5 Blazer’s removable top.
The Avalanche also offered another benefit. Because it was built on the Suburban’s chassis, every Avalanche came with a coil-spring rear suspension. The Avalanche beat the Ram 1500 to the punch by about eight years and was the first full-size 4×4 pickup on the market to offer such a suspension setup. It was also the first 2WD pickup with coil springs from GM since they left production in Chevy and GMC pickups in 1972.
A new Avalanche, again built on the Suburban chassis, would benefit from an independent rear suspension and the low bed floor that would come with it. We’d wager that most drivers would sacrifice the payload capacity that can come with leaf springs for the improved ride quality of a multi-link suspension, just like they did before.
Avalanche critics have lambasted the unique truck-utility-vehicle as being essentially a Suburban with extra rattles. True, the lack of a rear roof section and the open midgate would both remove rigidity from the body and add a source of noise, but we think that GM’s pickups and utility vehicles have firmed up a lot since the second-generation Avalanche debuted in 2007.