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The biggest no-brainer in the auto industry is a new Chevy Avalanche.
The biggest no-brainer in the auto industry is a new Chevy Avalanche.

In the midst of one the worst economic collapse in U.S. history, GM executives culled all sorts of different products and brands from their lineup including the funky, mid-gate Chevy Avalanche. With the economy rebounding, trucks and SUV sales booming and the changing nature of pickup trucks, it is time for Chevy to bring back the Avalanche. Here are my top 5 reasons why.

1. The Business Case is Good for an Avalanche

First and foremost, when discussing future product development, you have to start with the business case. Automakers, like GM, aren’t in business to lose money and developing a dud product is just not something they do.

When developing a new product, you have to take into account first the platform it will be riding on. In the case of the Avalanche, this is easy. It used an existing platform of the popular Suburban/Yukon XL. It can also use the existing powertrains, styling and latest technology of the GM SUVs.

Next, you have to consider manufacturing space. Since 2009, when the Silao, Mexico and Janesville, WI plants closed, the Arlington Assembly plant has built all Chevrolet Tahoes, GMC Yukons and Chevrolet Suburbans in Arlington, Texas. This plant occupies 4.375 million sq. ft. on 250 acres and impressively has been open since 1954. Currently it is running three shifts and is building about 1,200 vehicles each day. This makes its public production capacity of about 270k a year.

Looking at sales for all GM full-size SUVs, they have combined to sell around 143k units through August. With just four months left, it seems like, on paper, the Arlington assembly plant will come in at a little below capacity (22,500 per month capacity, 17,875 current pace). This sales year plus the unknown extra capacity each plant is capable of producing, the numbers show there is capacity for GM to build a new 2018 Chevy Avalanche.

5 Reasons GM Should Build An All-New 2018 Chevy Avalanche
Competitors like Honda have clued into consumers who want a truck, but also want an SUV.

2. The Market Has Changed

When GM discontinued the Chevy Avalanche in the 2013 model year, the market was clearly clamoring for smaller vehicles and the 2009 economic collapse and subsequent bankruptcy spelled the Avalanche’s doom. Plus, diminishing sales of 16,986 units in its final year that finished off a downward trend of sales barely exceeding 20k for 5 straight years didn’t help. And rampant unemployment, high gas prices and market trends worked against the truck. Finally, the EPA issued their new Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations in May, 2009 calling for improved fuel economy targets to rise above 35.5 MPG.

All of these items painted a dark future for trucks and SUVs. Many analysts thought new EV and hybrid vehicles were the future. In fact, Chevy unveiled a new Hybrid version of the Tahoe in 2007 and was pushing more fuel efficiency. This was the market at that time.

Things have dramatically changed. Now, the Chevy Tahoe hybrid has been discontinued, EV sales haven’t really amounted to much and trucks, SUVs and mid-size trucks even has seen a rebirth. The sales numbers reflect this trend with GM’s latest August, 2016 deliveries report showing Chevrolet having 6 vehicles showing sales growth over the prior year including the Suburban, Colorado, Express van and Tahoe. GMC sales show the same with 4 vehicles showing sales growth – Canyon, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL.

With the top growth sectors being trucks and SUVs, the timing is right for GM to expand its offerings in this segment. Business is all about timing and the time is now.

5 Reasons GM Should Build An All-New 2018 Chevy Avalanche
The Chevy Avalanche was a perfect mix of truck usability with SUV comfort.

3. Versatility Is Hot Right Now

Why do trucks and SUVs continue to sell well while EV and small cars are posting small growth numbers? Simple. Versatility is hot right now.  The American consumer sees those small cars and EVs as great commuter vehicles to get back and forth to work.

When it comes to family vehicles, many want more cargo room. The EVs with their batteries and hybrids also with batteries, restrict the amount of cargo room you can have. This makes it difficult for consumers who want both an EV and cargo room.

These consumers make a choice then between fuel economy and cargo space. With you have a family of 3, 4 or 5+ it isn’t a tough choice. You want the room.

5 Reasons GM Should Build An All-New 2018 Chevy Avalanche
Years ago, you would have been lucky to get 14 MPG out of the Chevy Suburban on a road trip. Now, you can get over 20 MPG.

4. Fuel Economy Is Much Improved

Remember when you were doing good if you truck got 12 MPG? Now days, trucks and SUVs are easily getting over 20 miles to the gallon and gas prices have been holding at around $2 a gallon for some time. Plus, there has never been a better time for consumers who want flexibility in their fuel economy and powertrain choices with diesel and hybrid powertrain options.

For example, the Chevy Colorado has a diesel. The new EcoTec3 engines from GM offer better fuel economy than their predecessors thanks to direct injection, piston cooling jets, active fuel management, variable displacement oil pump, continuously variable timing and aluminum cylinder heads and blocks. Simply put, this new generation engine can produce much more power for less fuel. How much better?

The latest generation of GM’s small block engines came out in 2013 and the 5.3L V8 is used in the 2014 Chevrolet Suburban (6.2L for Yukon XL). This SUV produces 355 HP (up from 320 HP) and 383 lb-ft of torque (up from 335 lb-ft) while returning 16/23/18 city/highway/combined MPG in 2WD and 15/22/18 city/highway/combined in 4WD. The 2013 Chevrolet Suburban was EPA-estimated at 15/21/17 city/highway/combined for 2WD. Now take these engine improvements and combine it with a new 10-speed transmission GM and Ford have been working on together and you could feasibly see a mid 20’s highway fuel economy number out of a large SUV.

5 Reasons GM Should Build An All-New 2018 Chevy Avalanche
You know the market has changed when there is a likely going to be a $50k mid-size truck.

5. New Vehicle Pricing Axioms Have Changed

Back 10 or even 15 years ago, vehicle pricing was largely held to an axiom that people won’t pay for features if they don’t find it immediately useful and this was especially the case with trucks and SUVs. These were the “people-hauler” vehicles and luxury touches were not the norm. Instead, they were often offered in bare bones with roll-up windows to keep price down.

Flash forward to present and GM is planning to offer a GMC Canyon Denali. Yep, a $50k mid-size truck. My how things have changed. This would have been completely unthinkable a decade ago.

Why bring this up? Profit is a big deal to GM and company executives have publicly stated they aren’t trying to buy market share anymore, they are trying to make money. If this is the case, can you imagine what a 2018 Chevrolet Avalanche Denali would do to the marketplace? It could easily top $60k and would be loaded with profit for GM considering they could use existing technology, platforms and powertrain to build it. Plus, old customers would come out of the woodwork for it much like they are for the new Honda Ridgeline. It could easily hit the 20k unit mark and might even surpass the old sales high of 93k units.

Whether GM reacts quickly enough to the changing market to produce a 2018 model is pretty unlikely. However, they could do it much sooner than other manufactures. They have the knowledge, the engineering, the production facility and a consumer base hungry for its return. These all add up to a winner in my book.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I would love to see the Avalanche make a comeback! I recently picked up an ’04 myself. My personal conspiracy theory is that a third-gen model was on the drawing board before the bankruptcy, and the powers-that-be put in charge of the GM bailout nixed it because they were kind of anti-Truck/SUV at the time, and the projected sales weren’t high enough to justify the R&D expense. The Silverado High Desert concept shows me there are still some within GM that are fans of the Avalanche and would like to see it make a comeback. Officially, GM says there are “no plans,” but I wouldn’t be completely shocked if it came back for 2020, a year after the next-gen Silverado launches.

  2. I’ve owned an Avalanche since 2003. I had a 2003, 2007, 2012, & 2013 and bought them all new. I’m getting ready to buy a new vehicle because my ’13 has 150k+ miles on it and I’m stuck between a Tahoe & Silverado. That’s exactly what the Avalanche was. I’ve owned a truck since a was 16, that’s almost 40 years now and I’ve never had anything that could do what the Avalanche did as far as hauling. Not to mention the ride, on the road or in the snow nothing was better. I will truly miss it.

    • Paul,

      Sucks you are forced to buy something new. Have you considered holding onto your Avalanche as long as you can? I’ve seen a few trucks these days reach 300k, 400k, 500k and even a million miles.

      -Tim

  3. “These all add up to a winner in my book” Thats exactly why they probably wont, they cant do the math. I’ve owned a 2007, 2010 and 2013. Ive owned three and I know more than a few people personally that have owned them.. What a shame if they dont bring back the AV

  4. I own a 2007 Avalanche, and even though I’ve previously owned just pickup trucks, I consider this the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. I would love to see Chevy bring the Avalanche back, and would definitely purchase another.

  5. We owned a 2004 Avalanche, brought it brand new. It was stolen in 2014, wrecked, passenger window busted out, etc., so it was totaled due to over 222,000 miles and my baby ran perfectly! Hauling, omg, it did whatever and whenever we needed and NEVER left us stranded on the highway, running from Texas to Georgia numerous times for 2 years straight while son was in college. As long as you kept the timely maintenance, which only was done at the same Chevrolet dealer where we purchased it from. PLEASE…PLEASE bring back the Avalanche ASAP! We are in need of a SUV and wife and I are patiently waiting for the Avalanche!!

  6. I have a 2010 Av, great vehicle and the dealer wants to sell me a new Chev but not an AV. Maybe we can hope for a 2018 as I am looking for a new truck. Without an AV maybe need to look at Ford or Honda.

  7. I have an ’04 Avalanche I bought brand new with 5 miles on it…..now it has over 230,000 miles but I’m holding out on a new purchase in hopes they bring the Avalanches back!

  8. I’ve owned 3
    Most recent the 2013 Black Diamond
    I too am looking for a new truck but nothing holds a candle to the Avalanche. I’d be in for a new one otherwise…..I have to go Ford… that hurt!

  9. We bought a 2003 Northface Edition. I thought it was the ugliest truck my husband ever bought. But pretty is as pretty does. It was the best truck we ever owned and we put more miles on it than all six other trucks we owned. He never kept a truck so long. We made a huge mistake trading it for a 2014 Silverado, fully loaded, and after market add-ons. Not the trucks fault, it just didn’t have the features of the Northface did. Sold the Siverado, bought a Colorado Trail Boss. Nice truck, very eye catching, but would trade it for an Avalanche in a heartbeat. By the way, the Northface is still on the road and the new owners say it is the best truck they have ever owned, and no, we can’t have it back

  10. I owned a 2002 and now have the 2013 Black Diamond. Loved them both. If someone starts a petition let me know and I’d sign up.

  11. I bought a 2004 new and put 220,000 miles on it. This truck never ever let me down. I then bought a 2007 LTZ Avalanche with 70,000 miles on it and love it even more. I sold my 2004 to one of my master carpenters and he calls it his going out to diner truck. Still looks new and now has 300k on it with original engine and tranny. If GM is reading this “PLEASE” bring it back!

  12. I have a 2013 right now with 135K on it. I have owned 2 others a 2011 and a 2005. I won’t buy another truck until they bring back the Avalanche, It’s the best truck ever made by any company

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