If your into cars (well trucks I guess) you likely know that GM offered 2500 versions of the Suburban and Yukon XL. Most of these heavy duty people haulers were bought by government fleets for everything from security to Fire and Police command cars. Whats a little less known is that the open backed Suburban better known as the Avalanche also had a 3/4 ton 2500 version during it’s first generation.
Oddly, enough the first (and possibly only) one of these I have seen in person was actually the first Avalanche I ever saw in person. Back at the time of its release I was working at a marina, and we were having some grounds work done and the owner of the landscaping company showed up in a brand new Avalanche 2500, towing a Bobcat skid steer of all things. I remember walking up to it thinking that’s an odd load for a new fangled truckUV to be towing. Then I saw the 8 lug wheels and made a mental note to crack open AOL and look it up at home that night. Even thou it’s often ridiculous that mass market auto makers go down a rabbit hole trying to find buyers for niche products they would have been more profitable without, as a car guy I love the wake of oddities it leaves behind.
So what did ordering a 2500 get you over a 1500 Avalanche? Well mostly it got you an open bed Suburban 2500. GM was nice enough to give you a Big-block V8 the vortec 8100 (8.1 liter displacement) standard on the 2500 where as it was an option on the Suburban (the 6.0 was standard). It also gave you a slightly less cushy ride with leaf sprigs swapped in for the standard coils. You also got a full floating rear axle and of course those cool 8 lug wheels. The frames were also different the 2500 closer to the pickups then the normal Suburban/Avalanche setup.
Now why would you order this? My guess is Chevy was targeting the RV and big boat crowd with this one. Unlike the 2500 suburban with it’s somewhat automatic government orders the avalanche had little use in fleets (thou I have seen a few in fire dept livery). It could however tow 12,000 pounds with the optional 4.10 gear-set and 10,000 with the 3.70 gear-set. Making it the perfect truck for towing your fountain executioner or that tag along toy hauler to the desert. It was also likely one of the last big block sedans you will eversee.