The Chevrolet Avalanche is a four-door, five or six passenger sport utility truck sharing GM's long-wheelbase chassis used on the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade EXT. Unlike the typical pickup truck, the open bed of the Avalanche opens to the back seat area through a folding panel and a removable rear window. A series of three removable panels form a watertight cover for the cargo bed. Additional storage is provided behind each wheel well, accessed by locking flip-top panels and usable as self-draining ice chests.
The Avalanche was launched in 2001 as a 2002 model on the GMT800 platform. First year Avalanches featured light gray plastic body cladding, intended to provide visual distinction from the Suburban/Yukon XL. Avalanche also gave the public an advance look at the next generation of front fascia designs for the entire GM line. A full-length chrome strip splits each lamp assembly and the grille, with a gold Chevrolet "bow tie" in the center. The hood and fenders featured aggressive folds, in contrast to the soft box of the other GMT800 models.
The Avalanche was originally marketed as being able to "change from a pickup to an SUV". This was made possible by a plastic cover and an exclusive "midgate" which could open and close. The midgate was a divider behind the second row of seats that could be folded down, with the seats, to create a longer bed area, or folded up to make a larger cab area.
Source: Wikipedia, 2012