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4WD Versus 2WD


Charter Member
SM 2003
Full Member
Jan 18, 2002
New Jersey - Exit 5
I've been debating whether to spend the extra money and get a 4WD versus a 2WD Avalanche. Also, whether or not to get the Z71 package with the 4WD. I realize the 4WD hold their value better for resale, but $3K is also a significant amount of additional investment.

Snow in this part of New Jersey happens only a handful of days a year. We've had no problem getting around with a FWD minivan for many years.

I'm thinking that the Z66 package would work well enough in the conditions I will encounter. But there seems to be a stigma attached to a 2WD pickup, as if it's not really a pickup unless it is 4WD.

The problem is, there are very few Z66 pickups in stock to choose from. Seems like the dealers in this area stock mostly 4WD models, and most of them are optioned out to the max in the $38K range MSRP.

What are everyone's opinion on the 2wD versus 4WD debate?
All I needed was 2WD so thats what I bought...I figure if you never use the 4WD why pay for the expense, weight and mechanical components to break??
I had a 96 Z71 4x4 truck that I traded in for my 02 Av 2wd. I did not use the 4wd much but it was nice to have when I did need it. Most of the time it was jumping off the freeway in the rain. I think I used it for that about 90% of the time. The other 10% was for ice/snow/mud. I did not even go with the Z66 package. My Av will spend most of the time on the highway. I am trying to find some snow chain/cables to have in the truck just in case I run into some snow on the highway. Over Xmas I was up in the mountains of NM and we did find some snow on the road and wish I had the snow chains just in case. Luckly there was not much on the road and we were able to drive right over it. Next time I hope to have some chains.

02 Avalanche Indingo Blue
00 WS6 Trans Am Pewter
I chose 2wd due to gas milage reasons and the fact that in Dallas, it never snows. Don't off road at all. I chose the 3.73 rear gear along w/ the 17" tires to assist in the milage quest. Either way you go, its a cool unit!
Hey Chrisntam,
glad to know there is another Av owner on the board from DFW. I am in Grand Prairie.
Given that I own 3 4x4's you can guess my vote - it does help on resale - the Z71 is an absolute bargain.

The streets are so bad in Houston now that you need a 4x4 just to get around - blah!
Two DFW Av owners - hey - you guys need to start working on a Dallas area Avalanche cruise - I can assist in the route planning if you're interested (and how to round up other Avalanche owners in your area)
I am a somewhat surprised and pleased to hear from so many 2WD Av owners in a positive way. Almost everyone I talk to in person tells me I must get the 4WD Av.
2WD is all I need plus my wallet is not as light!

Some need it others do not. If I lived where it snows a bunch I probably would have got it.

Happy Mardi Gras
I live in Western Washington and have a cabin in the mountains so I could easily justify 4wd. Even so, I struggled with the decision due to extra costs and how little people actually use 4wd. HOWEVER, this is my dream vehicle and I got what I wanted. I suggest people get what you want. It is true in Washington that a 2wd would have some loss of resale value but even so I would not worry about it. I also own a 2wd chevy Astro with a locking rear differential and it has done well in the snow despite being rear wheel drive. The key is the locking rear. If I were going 2wd I would strongly suggest the Z66 package. I just took delivery on a 4wd Red Z71. It has snowed for the past three days and of course I was driving in it. Fantastic vehicle. :)
Since you have no compelling reason to get 4wd then get the Z66 - 2wd unit. You won't be sorry. I live in TN and we occassionally get some bad weather although it doesn't stick around for long. NJ is not that much different unless you get up in the Northwest hills and mountains near the Catskills. If I lived up there - I would have the 4wd.

With the 2wd you will save 2 to 3 grand on the purchase, and get 1 to 2 MPG better mileage. Less mechanically to go wrong - however you don't usually hear that many complaints on the 4wd units either.

I would get the Z66 with the locking rear diff. ;D
I'm going to chime in here too. I've had the very rare opportunity for Western Washington to drive my Av in snow for six days in a row. Our weather has been more like Boston than Seattle!

There was only two times I used fulltime four-wheel drive. First was on Stevens Pass with lots of hard packed and soft snow on the road. Chains were required on all vehicles at the time so conditions were very bad. If it had been that way on the Mass Pike, things probably would have been shut down.

The second time was on my way to my Air Force Auxilary duty call on Monday night. I have to drive on some very steep hills and one was ice covered. I came to a stop, waited for the traffic in front to clear the hill, went into 4-Hi, put it in first and started down. Good thing I did, anti-lock went off for the first time, it was very slick.

The rest of the driving was spent with 75% in 2-Hi and 25% in Auto-4WD. I would think the Z-66 with the locking differential and traction control would work fine in most situations. Unless you live in inland northern New Jersey along the high ground, I would say you probably don't need it.

The Chevy engineers did a freakin' great job on the Av (and having 47% of your weight on the rear wheels sure does help!)
but I bought the Z66. Be honest with yourself as to how your going to use it. I am not going to go offroad. I am going to be on road, pulling my boat to a lake or an ocean. ;D

As for resale value, I don't intend on selling mine. :eek:

As for the snow, we got 14 inches here in NC recently. My Z66 with the traction control got me to where I wanted to be every day (not that there was any place to go, everything was shut down). :p

As for availability, my dealer didn't have what I wanted. He punched up his computer, put in the codes for the vehicle I wanted, and out popped every AV at every dealer in a 200 mile radius that met my criteria. They traded one of theirs for one I wanted.

YEAH!!! Z66 rocks!!

Have to agree that Auto Trac is something else, probably the best darn feature of the entire transfer case. I've used it a lot more this winter than average with our freak cold snap, and now that I've gotten sucked into the Ski Chevy black hole, I'll be using it a lot more on my weekly trips up to Stevens Pass!
;)Hey Chrisntam & WS6Y2K, I'm in the Denton area. I use my 4x4 every time it rains. I commute to downtown and it help with the slick streets and occasional hydroplaning.
You know what you can afford. Get what works for you and be happy :). TEXT
Add another Dallas-area Av owner. I'm in Plano. Got mine two weeks ago. 2500 series 4x4. While everyone has been talking about snow, I got mine for mud. I've stuck my previous vehicle, a 2wd 2500 Suburban, in the front yard of a friends Dad's farmhouse in Missouri twice now. The first time my friend used the FORD tractor to pull my brand-new Suburban out while whistling the "like a rock" tune from the advertisements. Ouch. Actually there have been several times I have not gone to the lease in Mineral Wells because it had been raining and I was afraid of being stuck while out there alone.

In one side compartement of the AV I carry 20' of 3/8 tow chain, a tow strap, and a come-a-long just in case. The come-a-long was bought at a Missouri farm store the second time I got stuck.
4WD is just like a lot of things. You only appreciate it when you need it. If you think you might need it then go for it, but buy what you can afford. But on the same hand, I personally try to get everything I can especially if it's not a big difference on the payment. You want to be happy with your new vehicle and with the Avalanche you will. What do YOU want? I wouldn't worry about what everyone else tells you. It's your money. Buy what makes you happy all the way around and you won't have any regrets.
I so badly wanted the Z66 because thats what year I was born...but when I weighed all the options...I went with the Z71. I live in Lansing, MI, so we have occasional snow falls...i love the AWD option! :)
Was it the Stones that said "Get what you need"? I hunt a lot and am offroad frequently, so the 4WD w/Z71 is the choice. It's handy on the farm and towing up steep, slippery boat ramps. I have one ramp that requires 4Lo when descending.

At the very least, get the Z package with locking rear and traction control on the 2WD.