The 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche is offered in LS, LT and LTZ models, each with a choice of rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. Standard on all models is a 310-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8 engine, hooked up to a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine has Active Fuel Management, which switches to 4-cylinder operation when possible to help save fuel. Fuel economy ratings of 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway are quite respectable for a vehicle of this size and capability.
The Avalanche’s unusual styling aside, the centerpoint of this truck’s unique setup is its folding mid-gate, which allows items from the truck bed to utilize passenger cabin space when needed. As such, the Avalanche can function as both a 6-passenger SUV and as a truck with an 8-foot bed. With the mid-gate open and the back seat folded fully down, the Avalanche can fit a 4-by-8-foot piece of plywood. The bed also has built-in storage compartments with drains, ideal for being filled with ice and used as coolers.
The Avalanche includes some of the same rugged character and ability as GM’s full-size pickup models, including a very respectable tow rating of 8,100 pounds. Those who do plan to take their Avalanche far off the pavement will want to get the Z71 Off-Road package, which brings color-keyed wheel flares, tubular assist steps, a chrome grille insert and leather bucket seats. Z71 also includes a host of tough hardware, including high-pressure gas-charged shocks, on/off-road tires, recovery hooks, skid plates and an automatic-locking differential. The heavy-duty Trailering Package includes a 2-speed transfer case, which also comes standard on LTZ 4×4 models.
The 2011 Avalanche drives like most of GM’s other full-size trucks-which is to say it’s more nimble than you might think, with surprisingly good ride comfort and great interior appointments, including generously sized front seats. In base LS trim, the Avalanche comes with a simple set of features that should be just fine for work-minded buyers. On the standard features list are front bucket seats, air conditioning, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls and a MP3/CD sound system with USB port and XM satellite radio compatibility. Standard Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and rear seat audio controls are both new for 2011.
The LT is more comfort-minded and brings a soft-ride suspension plus remote start, remote keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and Bose audio. The LTZ trim gets lots of appearance extras, plus power-adjustable pedals, a garage-door opener, heated-and-cooled front seats, perforated leather upholstery, a rearview camera system, parking assist, DVD entertainment and a navigation system with XM NavTraffic info. Safety features across the Avalanche range include traction control, front and rear airbags and electronic stability control.
If you’re looking for brute power, the Armada is king. Its V8 engine can handle a car full of people, a minimum of 6,500 pounds in tow, and the gear that goes with it all. The three available trim levels offer a price point for almost everyone, with the Platinum model having all the luxury appointments of its competitors, but with a lower price tag.
The Nissan Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine, with 317 horsepower, 385 lb-ft of torque and continuously variable valve timing, mated to a 5-speed automatic with tow/haul Mode. All three trim levels are available as rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. And in some areas of the country, the Armada is available as a Flex-Fuel vehicle capable of using ethanol.
Despite its size and massive engine, the Armada is surprisingly responsive. It incorporates anti-lock brakes, active brake limited slip, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. It also has independent double wishbone suspension front and rear, with the rear being auto-leveling. The Armada comes with standard automatic headlights, heated power outside mirrors and rear sonar for assistance while backing up. The differences between the three Armada styles start with the exterior. The SE sits on 18-inch wheels and a body-color grille, while the Titanium and Platinum get 20-inch rims and a chrome grille.
As for the interior, it comes with dual-zone temperature control, rear air conditioning with rear controls, cruise control, 8-way driver’s seat and speed-sensitive windshield wipers. The Titanium and Platinum trims add standard keyless ignition, Bluetooth, a 4-way passenger seat, power 60/40 third-row seat, leather seats and wood trim. Exclusive to the Platinum level is the Nissan Hard Drive Navigation System with XM NavTraffic, heated front seats with memory, and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Seating eight people means someone is going to need to be entertained, so the Armada has a standard 6-CD system with MP3 playback, auxiliary jack and rear audio controls with wireless headphone capability and headphone jacks. The stereo can be upgraded in the Titanium and Platinum Armadas to a 12-speaker Bose system, while a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive and card reader are standard equipment at the Platinum level.
For 2011, the HHR sees few changes. The SS turbocharged model is discontinued, as is the LT panel model. Black, Aqua Blue, and several accent stripes are no longer available, as are Cashmere cloth interior trim and Cashmere leather interior trim. Black Granite Metallic is a new extra-cost color and Mocha Steel Metallic is also now available.
HHR stands for “Heritage High Roof,” and it is the high roof that provides ample interior headroom and generous cargo volume. Combined with a highly configurable interior, including removable rear seats, the HHR is a versatile passenger and cargo hauler. Captain-style seating allows good visibility and SUV appeal.
Chevrolet’s HHR debuted in 2006 to much enthusiasm, selling over 100,000 units in its first year. The attention-grabbing style continues in 2011, featuring a big chrome grille and a long, smoothly curved hood reminiscent of Chevy’s 1949 Suburban. The rear tailgate is framed by two small, round taillights, making the HHR one of the most unique looking vehicle in Chevrolet’s lineup. The HHR’s front wheel drive platform is borrowed from the Chevy Cobalt, yet is aimed at those looking for more style and greater cargo room than the Cobalt provides.
The base LS and the 1LT come with a 2.2L inline 4-cylinder engine making 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. The 2LT upgrade comes with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, which makes 172 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. The standard 5-speed manual transmission can be upgraded to a 4-speed automatic on all trims. The base LS comes with standard 16-inch wheels and many common standard features, such as cruise control, air conditioning, power doors and windows. Floor mats, luggage rack, MP3 player and remote engine start are some of the options available on the base LS.
The LT trim adds a power driver’s seat and cargo net over the LS. Available options for the LT include steering wheel controls, a leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, heated front seats and power lumbar support. The 2LT trim, which increases the price by about $1,700, adds a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, premium sound system, fog lamps, steering wheel controls, wireless cell phone hookup and chrome 17-inch wheels.
Standard safety features on all HHRs include StabiliTrak stability control, 4-wheel ABS, a full array of airbags front and back and a tire pressure monitoring system. Upgraded wheels, audio systems and a variety of comfort and luxury features are available across the model range, allowing buyers to choose their level of customization. Running boards are standard on the 2LT, optional on 1LT and LS. A sliding sunroof/moonroof is optional on LTs.
With two cab sizes, four bed sizes, four trim levels, and a long list of options and available packages, there are dozens of ways to configure the Titan to fit the job at hand. Every Titan gets the 5.6L V8 engine, which is capable of running on E85 bio-ethanol fuel, and a 5-speed transmission. Front air bags and ABS are also standard features.
The King Cab can be matched with either a 6-foot-6-inch or 8-foot bed; the Crew Cab gets either a 5-foot-6-inch or 7-foot bed and rear half-doors that fold flat against the bed sides for easy entry. The four trim levels, from the most basic to the most feature-filled, are XE, SE, Pro-4X and LE.
The 5-passenger XE King Cab starts the model out with 168-degree Wide Open doors and a CD stereo. The 6-passenger XE Crew Cab adds power locks, windows and rear glass and two more speakers. Both are available as rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive trucks.
The SE has everything the XE does, plus 18″ alloy wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, power mirrors, remote keyless entry and 6-disc in-dash CD changer. Like the XE, it comes in either rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive.
The Pro-4X takes the features of the SE and adds off-road capabilities, like electric locking rear differential, Rancho shock absorbers, lower gear ratio, two additional skid plates, fog lights, bed lockbox, upgraded interior trim and white gauges in the dash. The Pro-4X is only available in 4-wheel drive.
The LE takes the features in the SE and adds a load of extras: 20″ alloys, automatic headlights, spray-on bedliner rear sonar system, 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo upgrade, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone temperature control, heated front seats and power adjustable pedals. It takes a few features from the Pro-4X, too, such as fog lights and bed lockbox.
All Titans now get Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamic Control and side-impact airbags as standard safety equipment.
Besides these cab sizes, bed lengths and trim levels, there are several packages of options available for the Titan: Max Utility, Side Airbags, XE Popular Equipment, SE Popular Equipment, Heavy Metal Chrome, Driver’s Convenience and Technology. Most of these packages include features that are standard on the LE version of the Titan, but some, like the Side Airbags package, is optional for all models. It includes roof-mounted airbags, side-mounted airbags and vehicle dynamic control.
The exact features included in the new Heavy Metal Chrome package depend on the model, but it generally includes chrome wheels, chrome step rails, chrome billet grille, chrome door handles, and, on the SE Crew Cab, chrome mirrors.
The Driver’s Convenience package adds 8-way adjustable front captain’s chairs rather than the 40/60/40 split front bench, Bluetooth, and the upgraded sound system. In the Crew Cab configuration, this package includes a sunroof, too.
The Max Utility package makes the Titan into the ultimate workhorse, with spray-in bedliner receiver hitch, 7-pin wiring harness, heavy-duty battery, and front tow hooks. The Pro-4X and LE versions of the package include heated tow mirrors in addition to all the other features.
The 2010 Nissan Frontier is a good, manageably sized alternative to full-size trucks, and its V6 engine is one of the most powerful in its class. The truck also stands out for its unique Utili-track system and plentiful interior storage bins. Towing ability is a strong point for the Frontier, too–properly equipped it is rated to tow up to 6,500 pounds.
The Frontier shares its basic layout, including the suspension and other components with the larger Titan pickup. The suspension combines a double-wishbone front setup with a solid-axle and leaf springs at the rear.
The base XE and SE Frontier King Cab 2WD trucks have a 152-horsepower, 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. All other Frontiers are powered by a 4.0L V6 engine, making 261 horsepower and 281 ft-lb of torque. The predominantly aluminum, double-overhead-cam engine utilizes continuously variable valve timing, variable induction and a number of attributes for smooth operation and efficiency. Four-cylinder models have a 5-speed manual transmission standard, while V6 models get 6-speeds. A 5-speed automatic is available on both.
On V6 models, a 4-wheel-drive system is available, featuring electronically controlled shift-on-the-fly engagement and a low range. The 4WD models also bring a 4-wheel limited-slip system. Hill Descent Control helps maintain a steady, slow speed while descending especially steep slopes, while Hill Start Assist (HSA) allows a smooth, controlled start on a steep incline without roll-back. Both features are standard on all SE and LE models with 4-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.
There’s also a PRO-4X off-road edition, available in King Cab or Crew Cab SE V6 versions with either 2WD or 4WD, which brings Bilstein performance shocks, an electronic-locking rear differential and 2- and 4-wheel anti-lock-brake-controlled limited slip. The PRO-4X also
includes additional skid plates and 16-inch off-road tires.
The Frontier has several innovative storage options, including storage boxes under the rear seats, a large center console, a dual-compartment glove box and several power points. The Utili-track system, which brings removable utility tie-down cleats and secure attaching channels, is available and especially useful for securing heavy cargo that doesn’t take up the entire bed. A factory-applied spray-in bedliner is standard with SE V6 Crew Cab, as well as the PRO-4X and LE models
Front-seat side air bags are standard, as are side-curtain air bags that cover front and rear occupants and stability control is standard on V6 models.
Both the Tahoe and Suburban are offered in LS, LT and LTZ models, with either rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive for each. Suburbans can be specified either as standard-duty 1500 models or heavy-duty 2500 models. The Tahoe can tow up to 8,400 pounds, while the Suburban 2500 can tow up to 9,600 pounds when properly equipped.
A 320-horsepower, 5.3L V8 engine featuring E85 capability is the only available engine option for the Tahoe, although a 6.0L is combined with an electric motor on hybrid models, making a combined 332 horsepower. The same 5.3L V8 is standard on 2WD and 4WD Suburban 1500 models and the heavy-duty Suburban 2500 comes equipped with a standard 6.0L V8, which makes 352 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque.
The 5.3L and 6.0L engines both come equipped with Active Fuel Management, which cuts off fuel to half of the cylinders in some conditions when full engine power isn’t needed.
The Tahoe Hybrid model, which joined the lineup in 2008, gets a 6.0L V8 as part of a 2-Mode hybrid system that is capable of powering the Tahoe at low speed on electric power alone, while at higher speeds the electric motor system assists the gasoline engine for more efficient accelerating and passing. The Hybrid has 8-passenger seating and can tow up to 6,200 pounds.
The stiff, fully boxed frame of Tahoe and Suburban helps provide the structure for heavy hauling and towing and also reduces vibration in the passenger cabin. There’s also extensive noise-reduction material used throughout the models inside the headliner, over the engine, in front of the dash and in door seals.
Luxurious LTZ models get a smooth Autoride suspension system, which has two modes of damping-one firmer, one softer-which it can switch between quickly depending on driving conditions.
Inside, the Tahoe and Suburban have a sophisticated instrument panel design, with LED backlighting and chrome accents, which is smoother and more car-like in design than most other full-size SUVs. Bluetooth hands-free connectivity is standard.
Roof-mounted head-curtain air bags with rollover protection, covering all three seating rows, are standard across the model lines, and side impact airbags are also now standard. StabiliTrak electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are also included with both models.
Standout features available on the Tahoe and Suburban include a remote start system, heated seats for the first and second rows, a power-release fold-and-tumble second row, ultrasonic rear parking assist, a rearview camera system, touch-screen navigation, and an 8-inch rear DVD entertainment system.
There are three body styles for the Colorado: regular cab, long-wheelbase extended cab and 4-door crew cab. Each of these is available in rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive. There are three engines available: a 185-hp, 2.9-liter 4-cylinder, which is standard on all but the crew cab; a 242-hp, 3.7-liter 5-cylinder engine; and a 300-hp 5.3-liter V8. These can then be coupled with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic.
There are three available suspensions as well, the Z85, the Z71 for off-roading and the sportier ZQ8. The upgraded suspensions require either a crew cab or extended cab; the base model is available with the base Z85 suspension only.
So already, there are choices to be made, depending on what kind of use the truck will get and where you want to spend your money. All the trucks start with power-assisted rack-and pinion steering, front and side curtain air bags, TPMS, traction control, and GM’s OnStar Safe and Sound system. A stereo with CD and MP3 playback is also standard.
From here, options are nearly endless. The Power and Convenience package includes power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, power-adjustable mirrors, and auto-dimming mirror.
All in all, the Colorado can be configured dozens of ways, from the inexpensive, fuel-sipping base model to the top-of-the-line, largest, most powerful crew cab. In addition to engine, transmission, and suspension configurations, options make this truck as customizable as any light truck on the market.
Why a Pathfinder?
The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder offers a good combination of serious towing, hauling and off-roading ability while providing a competent and comfortable ride on-road. And with the same big V8 as the full-size Armada, the mid-size Pathfinder becomes both quicker and more capable, with towing capacity now up to 7,000 pounds!
The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is offered in S, SE and LE variants, and each are available with either rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive. SE and LE models come with either a 4.0L V6 engine rated at 266 hp and 288 ft-lb of torque, or a 5.6L V8 making 300 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines are mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, but the available 4-wheel-drive systems are quite different depending on the engine. The V8 comes with a full-time All-Mode 4WD system that can send up to 50% of engine torque to the front wheels on demand, while V6 models come with a part-time 4WD system that is more off-road oriented, with a separate low range and, on LE models, an electronically controlled transfer case.
The Pathfinder has a roomy interior with three rows of seating for up to seven. The third row folds flat to easily expand the cargo floor, the second row is split 40/20/40 and also folds forward and the front passenger seat also folds forward on most models for especially long items. All Pathfinders utilize rack-and-pinion power steering with speed-sensitive power assist, plus 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). Electronic stability control is also standard. Front passenger airbags, side airbags, and rear and side head airbags are also standard.
The base model S comes standard with the V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. Also standard on the S model are 5-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls and power windows and locks.
The mid-level SE adds 6-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, AM/FM in-dash 6-disc CD player with MP3 capability, dual zone automatic climate control with rear air conditioning and rear controls, variable intermittent speed-sensitive windshield wipers and more.
At the top of the model range is the LE, which has an available V8 engine with 5-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Standard appointments include 12-spoke machined-finished 18-inch alloy wheels, auto on/off headlamps, body colored side moldings with chrome inserts, a power moon-roof, heated outside mirrors, Nissan “intelligent key” with remote start availability, leather seats, heated front seats and steering wheel and premium Bose audio system with XM satellite radio, 6-disc in-dash CD player with MP3 capability and much more. Navigation is standard on the LE V8.
Pathfinder Added Options…
To increase equipment versatility and advance customization, the Nissan Pathfinder also offers several package options, including a new LE V8 Value Package with a DVD player, 7-inch color monitor for rear passengers and a moon-roof. A new SE Premium Journey Package includes 17-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels, a Rear View Monitor, roof rack crossbars, a 10-speaker Bose stereo system, XM satellite radio capability, Bluetooth and Intelligent Key.
I can not believe that its been 75 years since Chevrolet came out with the Suburban! Chevy claims that its SUV is the first vehicle to be continuously produced for 75 years, but to be honest I haven’t done any research to back that up (please remind me later to check that out). Regardless of whether or not Chevy was the first to produce a car for that long, the accomplishment of producing a vehicle for 75 years is HUGE!
The concept behind the Suburban’s layout has not changed much through the years, and it just goes to show that when something isn’t broke…don’t fix it!
Here is a time-line of the Suburban:
- Suburban Carryall introduced
- 2-door body style that would last through 1967
- Power came from Chevrolet’s stalwart “Stovebolt” inline-six that produced 60 horsepower for the half-ton chassis
- New, streamlined exterior styling carried Art Deco cues
- Horsepower from the Stovebolt six increased to 79
- Production of almost all civilian cars & trucks halted during America’s involvement in World War II
- Many Chevy trucks – including the Suburban’s body style – were pressed into military duty
- The first significant redesign of the Chevrolet Suburban
- Suburban models are offered with either a tailgate/top-opening rear window configuration or conventional “barn doors” at the rear
- Revolutionary new styling is introduced midway through the model year
- Known as the “second series” design, it features a wraparound windshield and the elimination of running boards – the body is flush with the fenders for the first time
- The second series model also introduces the ubiquitous small-block V-8
- Factory-installed four-wheel drive is offered for the first time
- Chevrolet institutes the C/K designations to denote models with two-wheel drive (C) and four-wheel drive (K)
- Front-end styling is also new
- All-new styling of Chevy’s half-ton trucks is introduced, including Suburban
- It carries a unique three-door arrangement with a single door on the driver’s side and front and rear doors on the passenger side
- This configuration makes the Suburban popular with ambulance companies
- A new generation of Chevy trucks is launched, with Suburban offered in a conventional four-door body style introduced for the first time
- Increased focus on interior comfort and amenities in the 1973 models bring more customers to Suburban for use as a personal vehicle
- Chevrolet responds with more comfortable seats and greater amenities, including simulated buffalo hide vinyl upholstery, wood grain dash inserts, fully trimmed door panels and more
- Updated styling brings stacked rectangular headlamps for the 1980s
- The four-wheel drive system adds automatic locking hubs and the 454 cubic-inch big-block is still offered, giving customers great towing capability
- Electronically controlled fuel injection and a four-speed overdrive transmission bring greater efficiency
- An all-new Suburban features sleek styling with flush glass and composite headlamps
- The 5.7-liter small-block V-8 powers 1500 models, while the 454 engine is still available in the 2500 series
- Other updates include four-wheel anti-lock brakes, Insta-Trac on four-wheel-drive models and a suspension system designed to provide a more carlike ride
- OnStar and the full-time AutoTrac all-wheel-drive system are added
- In Australia, right-hand-drive versions of the Suburban are offered through GM’s Holden brand
- Launched in 1999 as a 2000 model, the next-generation Suburban brings new styling, new interiors and new powertrains
- The latest generation of the Suburban is introduced, featuring a wind tunnel-shaped exterior and the elimination of traditional chrome front and rear bumpers
- More efficient, comfortable and capable than ever, the Suburban continues to offer customers of all walks of life uncompromising capability and versatility
- The 75th anniversary is marked with a limited-edition model, the 75th Anniversary Diamond Edition Suburban!
For less than $30,000, the Titan features a standard 5.6L V8 engine that makes 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, which is capable of running on E85 bio-ethanol fuel. Hauling capacity is either a 2,000-lb payload or 9, 500 lbs towed. For people that need that kind of capacity — including room for five or six cabin occupants — the 12 mpg city, 18 mpg highway gas mileage is normal. Front air bags and ABS are also standard features. All Titans now get Nissan’s Vehicle Dynamic Control and side-impact airbags as standard safety equipment.
There are many extensive reasons why the Titan is such a great pick-up. However, in my opinion, the Titan’s best attribute is its ability to transform into the perfect vehicle for anyone! There are literally dozens of ways to configure the Titan:
- 2 cab sizes
- 4 bed sizes
- 4 trim levels
- XE, SE, Pro-4X & LE
- The King Cab can be matched with either a 6-foot-6-inch or 8-foot bed
- The Crew Cab gets either a 5-foot-6-inch or 7-foot bed and rear half-doors that fold flat against the bed sides for easy entry.
- The 5-passenger XE King Cab starts the model out with 168-degree Wide Open doors and a CD stereo.
- The 6-passenger XE Crew Cab adds power locks, windows and rear glass and two more speakers.
- The SE has everything the XE does, plus 18″ alloy wheels, chrome bumpers and grille, power mirrors, remote keyless entry and 6-disc in-dash CD changer. Like the XE, it comes in either rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive.
- The Pro-4X takes the features of the SE and adds off-road capabilities, like electric locking rear differential, Rancho shock absorbers, lower gear ratio, two additional skid plates, fog lights, bed lockbox, upgraded interior trim and white gauges in the dash.
- The Pro-4X is only available in 4-wheel drive.
- The LE takes the features in the SE and adds a load of extras: 20″ alloys, automatic headlights, spray-on bedliner rear sonar system, 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo upgrade, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone temperature control, heated front seats and power adjustable pedals. It takes a few features from the Pro-4X, too, such as fog lights and bed lockbox.
- XE, SE, Pro-4X & LE
- Long list of Options/Packages:
- Max Utility
- The Max Utility package makes the Titan into the ultimate workhorse, with spray-in bedliner receiver hitch, 7-pin wiring harness, heavy-duty battery, and front tow hooks. The Pro-4X and LE versions of the package include heated tow mirrors in addition to all the other features.
- Side Airbags
- XE Popular Equipment
- SE Popular Equipment
- Heavy Metal Chrome
- The exact features included in the new Heavy Metal Chrome package depend on the model, but it generally includes chrome wheels, chrome step rails, chrome billet grille, chrome door handles, and, on the SE Crew Cab, chrome mirrors.
- Driver’s Convenience
- The Driver’s Convenience package adds 8-way adjustable front captain’s chairs rather than the 40/60/40 split front bench, Bluetooth, and the upgraded sound system. In the Crew Cab configuration, this package includes a sunroof, too.
- Most of these packages include features that are standard on the LE version of the Titan, but some, like the Side Airbags package, is optional for all models. It includes roof-mounted airbags, side-mounted airbags and vehicle dynamic control.
- Max Utility