By on May 12, 2016

Chevrolet Silverado High Desert

The buttress is back, baby!

Chevrolet fans still in mourning over the loss of their beloved Avalanche get an early Christmas gift this year. A new Silverado package arrives this fall with all the goodies a ‘lanche aficionado could want, minus the acres of grey bodyside cladding.

The High Desert Package, inspired by a concept vehicle shown at the 2014 SEMA show, is available on LT, LTZ, and High Country trims, adding upscale exterior fittings and a versatile locking cargo system with dual side storage bins. You’ll never find that hammer you left…somewhere.

Chevrolet views the waterproof, multi-compartment storage system as the answer for people who really want a pickup, but opt for an SUV due to the stuff they’re forced to cart around.

Chevrolet Silverado High Desert

“The High Desert package blends the capability and utility of Silverado with the refinement and luxury of Suburban,” said Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet truck marketing, in a statement. “It’s ideal for those customers who want both the security of a lockable cargo area, as well as the flexibility of a pickup truck bed.”

The package also brings GM’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension into the Silverado lineup. The self-aware, road-damping suspension lends a refined, SUV-like ride to the pickup, filling out the “luxury” side of the package.

While not a standalone model, Chevy clearly knows who it’s romancing with this package. The proof is in the pillars, or more specifically, the flying buttress treatment out back.

The Avalanche is dead, but it has a son with another name.

[Image: General Motors]

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87 Comments on “Avalanche 2.0: Chevrolet Silverado High Desert Package...”


  • avatar
    laserwizard

    Well, when you are selling an essentially reskinned 1999 pickup, this is all you can do.

    Chevrolet. Thank goodness the heartbeat of America is no longer us. Or there would be no one left to bail us out. Again.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “It’s ideal for those customers who want both the security of a lockable cargo area, as well as the flexibility of a pickup truck bed.”

    Wait, do the seats fold down in the cab to give you more room, cuz that was kind of the point of the Avalanche.

  • avatar
    86er

    Now all those guys can trade in their Subaru Bajas.

  • avatar
    360 derpscope

    Could someone please explain to me the reason for the cult following of the avalanche? I don’t get it.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I think it was that you could extend the bed by flipping down the rear seat and the forward wall of the bed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      It also was a pickup (of a sort) that had the cleaner styling of the SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        The first Avalanche certainly didn’t have the Suburban’s “cleaner styling.” Later WBH (Without Body Hardware) models and the second-gen did, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      During production, the Avalanche at one point (around 2004?) had the highest owner loyalty rating of any vehicle sold in North America. It has a rabid following.

      Consumer Reports ticks the boxes off on why in this video from 2012:

      www [dot] youtube [dot] com/watch?v=MK_m79At9VQ

      If you don’t need the 8-9 passenger seating of a Suburban, but you want the ride of coil over springs, while still being able to haul 7,900 pounds, and keep 4X8 sheetrock dry in a pouring rain without buying one accessory to make that happen — well it does all that.

      Consumer Reports also did a test of 34 different 4WD trucks and SUVs (no Jeep Wrangler for obvious reasons that it would be in first place) vehicles for offroad competency back in 2003 I want to say, and they were stunned when the Avalanche came in second place behind the Toyota Tacoma standard cab short bed 4WD TRD.

      For a fat girl, the Avalanche is a very competent offroad and onroad platform.

      I owned one from 2001-2005, and have a 2011 in my driveway I picked up on the cheap last month. I had no idea how much I missed the Avalanche, and how much better the GMT900 platform is over the GMT800.

      The wife thinks she is in a first class airplane seat up front, the ride is excellent, the mileage with the 5.3L V8 with AFM and 6-speed auto is only marginally worse than a V6 minivan, the cargo box is weather proof out of the gate, side cargo storage that can be used as coolers, each hard cargo panel can support 250 pounds, roof rack, DVD player and separate audio controls to keep daughter number 2 quiet in the backseat. LS under the hood (basically), and very simple to work on independently.

      They also hold their resale value extremely well.

      It’s like having a Suburban with a throw up cargo area, that you can convert into an 8′ weather safe, enclosed cargo area.

      Or on a day like we are having today, open the sunroof, take out the back window, drop the Midgate, open the tailgate, roll down the 4 windows, drop the tailgate and you’re rocking a 1970’s style open top truck.

      I believe CR in the above video calls it a Swiss Army Knife – which basically nails it.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah what he said. Now if they had offered a 3/4 ton in the 2nd gen that would be my ultimate trailer puller.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I’m not doubting you, but I don’t get how a vehicle that goes into production of September 2001 can have the highest owner loyalty numbers in 2004. What percentage of people trade in two years or less? Wasn’t the economy teetering along after both the dot-com bubble and 9/11/01? Weird.

        The Avalanche was great idea reasonably well executed. Anyone know why it wasn’t more successful? If Honda gave the Ridgeline a mid-gate, I’d find a way of justifying a $42K utility vehicle that I’d use 10% of the time.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          More successful in what sense? GM sold 865,000 of them. There are a lot of full size SUVs that have been on the market where the makers would kill to sell 865K worth, with the biggest competitors being in the same showroom, Suburban and Silverado.

          Sales dropped in the gas price spike of 2005, and never recovered with the double whammy of the Great Recession that followed.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            Uh what?

            They sold 625,000 of them and 72,000 Escalade versions.

            Where’s your extra 240,000 vehicles coming from?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I don’t understand why the Avalanche rear window had to be removed manually, the H2 SUT had a fold down mid game as well but that window rolled down with the touch of a button into the midgate.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “and keep 4X8 sheetrock dry in a pouring rain without buying one accessory to make that happen — well it does all that. ”

        Well, don’t you need a canopy to make that happen?

        That’s a pretty serious accessory (says the guy with a canopy AND rack on his pickup)…

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Not with an Avalanche – hard cargo cover – three sections – removable – with water drainage system.

          Drop the Midgate and you’can carry a load of 4X8 sheet rock in the pouring rain.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Wait so you can remove the midgate but leave the window in place? If so that would explain the reasoning for being different.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I don’t advise carrying sheetrock in the rain. You really should try to keep it covered, or you’ll have a mess of gypsum in your truck by the time you get home.

            Yet another time when a minivan is the superior choice.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            This is one of the reasons why the Avalanche didn’t sell – people didn’t get the Midgate.

            @Hummer – correct – you can leave the rear window and all seals in place in the Avalanche with the Midgate down. It is a sealed 52″ X 8’2″ (IIRC) bed with the Midgate down.

            @VoGo – wrong – you won’t get one drop of water on that sheetrock in an Avalanche with the Midgate down, the cargo panels in place and rear window in. I owned a minivan before this (subject to a Piston Slap article here on TTAC) so I know the benefits of both. The Avalanche bed is sealed – standard. If you want an open truck bed the panels can be removed in about 60 seconds. If you want an open bed past 8′ you can remove the panels, drop the rear window and drop the Midgate. Want a sealed bed that is around 5-1/2′ – that comes the way it is configured. Want a sealed bed that is over 8′ long, drop the Midgate but leave rear window in place.

            All of this is standard on the most basic, stripped, optionless 2WD LS Avalanche from 2002 – 2013.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            aPaGttH,
            I know how the midgate works. I just don’t understand why anyone would insist on moving sheetrock in the rain. Keeping it dry is so much smarter.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            @VoGo: That was his point, methinks. You could back the Avalanche into the warehouse, load it up with sheetrock, close the tailgate, make sure the bed covers are completely sealed, then drive home in the pouring rain to your garage. It /would/ be kept completely dry.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      It also rode better because it had coils in the rear from the suburban as opposed to leaf springs from the PU.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    So would it be a Silverado High Country High Desert, or a Silverado High Desert High Country?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I was never a big fan of the previous version. To me it always looked awkward, Pontiac-esq plasticky, bulky, and I never really got the purpose.

    The new version really just looks like a regular truck to me with a factor bed cover. The Avalanche now just looks like an option package. I’m no truck guy, but am I missing something?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I’m not sure what vehicle you’re talking about. The Avalanche? The Avalanche was discontinued at the end of the 2014 MY. The second-gen Avalanche really was just a Suburban with the back roof cut off.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        ”The second-gen Avalanche really was just a Suburban with the back roof cut off.”

        Yep. My buddy had an ’07, very sharp looking vehicle. Loved his but sold it due to rust issues.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I approve of this. Next question!

    Inquiry: Does Dave of Calgary of Canadia approve?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Why are you wondering if I approve?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I do not approve.

      I liked the late model Avalanche, the Suburban front end of the time was better looking than the Silverado front end, and looked great on the pickup body. I always liked the factory bed cover and locking gunwale boxes. My old boss had 3 Escalade EXT, and we used them as company trucks and they were very versatile especially since they had the 6.0L and AWD. A set of Nokians and they were excellent for going up to the camps to do field inspections. We never used the midgate, though.

      That said, it ONLY worked in an LTZ with body color painted cladding. And then my gf said “it looks like painted plastic, you can definitely see the different texture from the bedside.” Shes right too, so even though I enjoy to gaze on a pearl white Avalanche LTZ, we wont be looking to purchase anytime soon.

      This new one though…. For starters, the only thing the 2016 Silverado has done is to make me slightly appreciate more the 2014-2015 Silverado, which is still aesthetically (to my eye) inferior to the Sierra. Thats a hideous truck pictured for the article. The black plastic buttresses add nothing good to it. I see no evidence of the gunwale boxes, so why wouldnt I or anyone just buy a Sierra or Silverado (if you like the Silverado) and get a locking roll up aluminum tonneau cover, for likely alot less than this package.

      Thumbs down.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    This looks like one of those pickups owned by some retiree with a bizarre obsession with the JC Whitney catalog. You know the guy: chrome trim strips on every door, chrome tipped mud flaps, chrome bug deflector on the hood and one of those big-rig style exterior sun deflectors on the roof.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      All of the gingerbreads!

      It’s not that much different than an actual Avalanche this generation would be. Take away the standard bed cover, and you’d have it.

      Also, even that special High Country badge puts me in mind of the 98-00 TrailBlazer badging.

      http://images.gtcarlot.com/customgallery/interior/52091453.jpg

      Embroidery!

    • 0 avatar
      kkop

      Retiree? – we call them Latinos over here – some of them may be retired, I’m not sure.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        No, no, no you’re missing the nuance. The hispanic accessorization scene is different: the trucks tend to be more beat up, and there is more airbrushing and fiberglass bodykit action going on, oftentimes some kind of vinyl stickers on the rear cab window. The only area of intersection is fake vent ports on the fenders. I’m talking about retired white guy in a blue collar factory neighborhood. The trucks are more than likely freshly waxed and in immaculate condition. This same demographic has also been known to get their hands on automatic C5 Corvettes and accessorize in a similar fashion.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well, yes, but if I remember correctly, the two big things about the Avalanche were that:

    1) The midgate could be folded down to create a longer bed, and

    2) It was more of a Suburban with a bed than a Silverado, and thus had the Suburban’s comfier rear coil suspension instead of the Silverado’s leaf springs.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    How ridiculous and typical of GM….
    Also, I just can not get over how massively ugly the new silverados are.. Just hideous.

  • avatar
    ajla

    GM just blatantly stuck a trunk on the Silverado.

    And this is why I can’t have a Caprice…

  • avatar
    Hummer

    “the refinement and luxury of Suburban,”

    Clearly GM has lost the plot on the purpose of the suburban, FCAs truck based SUVs can’t come soon enough.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    I, um well….. are there really any words for this? Mind-numbing maybe?

  • avatar
    derekson

    This seems like a good plan to me. It’s a nice package for people who want to buy a truck to use it as a replacement for what a large BOF sedan would’ve done 20 years ago. It has a secure, weathertight storage area and all the options to be a great on-road vehicle for commuting and family hauling duty. Plus it has magnetic ride control shocks to improve the ride.

    I suspect this will be pretty popular, at least on the coasts. Perhaps in middle America people still use their beds for things besides luggage and groceries.

  • avatar

    Cheap gas is here forever, everyone!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …A new Silverado package arrives this fall with all the goodies a ‘lanche aficionado could want, minus the acres of grey bodyside cladding…

    The Avalanche only came with “acres of grey bodyside” in the 2002 model year. It became optional in 2003, and was all but eliminated in 2005, and was dead from 2006-2013.

    The sail panels in the cladding material were optional in 2011 (paint to match option) and were also eliminated in 2012-13 going to paint to match.

    For the record the Honda Element of the same era had, by total area covered more “acres of grey bodysiding” than the Avalanche could have ever dreamed of having.

    If you’re going to have fun with snark, have fun with snark, but can we be at least factual?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I wonder if anyone’s ever done a measurement of the square feet of Avalanche body that were actually clad in plastic. Then we could do the math and come up with some tiny decimal of acres.

    • 0 avatar

      No, can’t be factual, because everything GM must suck and Honda must be terrific.

      Never mind that EIGHT of the top 20 longest lasting vehicles in the US today are Chevy/GMC pickups and their SUV variations. (And in all fairness, Ford has 6 or so)

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I’ve never owned an Avalanche, but I admired them for the ability to carry lots of people or lots of stuff or lots of people and enough stuff simultaneously. This new pickup can only carry lots of people and their luggage. It does nothing about carrying giant or long payloads, which is what made the Avalanche brilliant.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Taking this personally aren’t we?

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “The self-aware, road-damping suspension”

    The singularity is here!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Skynet, I always knew GM would be the downfall of ‘merica. Once all those Stabilitrak vehicles become self aware, it will be like Maximum Overdrive meets the nuclear apocalypse. Wifi 4G LTE to hack the Internet and makes its own phone calls using OnStar.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Pffft.

    Avalanches are for girls.

    But have no fear, ’cause there’s always room for cladding!!!

    ‘Murica.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Just this AM I was behind a Lincoln Mark LT with a traffic cone, tarp, and a couple of pieces of lumbar in the bed.

    Must be a sign of the coming apocalypse.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Last Friday at my eye appointment, there were a couple guys there doing some office construction work upstairs, and the vehicle they were using to haul materials was a brand new Escalade.

      Buh?

  • avatar
    Darwinian

    Chevy used to have the cleanest styled pickups on the market. Now- hideous huge, yet bland grill and square wheel wells, it’s a wonder they haven’t found a way to make the tailgate exceptionally ugly as well.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “High Country”, “High Desert”. What kind of lame committee comes up with these names? Ford has the King Ranch, named for a real place, and Toyota has the 1794 Edition, which refers to the founding date of the ranch where today the TMMTX plant outside of San Antonio is located. GM needs to get a clue.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Maybe they asked Art Bell for suggestions about the name of the special edition.

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