We're all in search of the perfect combo, the right mix of parts and tuning to endow our rides with the proper dose of high-performance fun. The process is especially satisfying when the payoff results from our own long hours of research. On the other hand, there's certainly something to be said for letting someone else do the homework. With this idea in mind, we decided to check out one of SLP's PerformancePacs, using an untouched '04 Avalanche as our test subject.
SLP has a PerformancePac for just about anything running a Gen III powerplant: '98-02 Camaros and C5 Corvettes, along with most trucks and SUVs. These packages come in variations for 4.8-, 5.3-, and 6.0L engines. The Avalanche system is a fairly new addition to the lineup and has proved to be a hot seller. "The Avalanche is surprisingly one of our more popular kits," reports Brian Reese, SLP's director of engineering. "We sell three for every truck kit."
One attraction to a package deal like the PerformancePac is ease of installation, and the system we sampled scored well in this department. Superior Automotive in Anaheim, California, accomplished the job--including before and after dyno runs--in a mere half day. Having access to a lift certainly helped with the exhaust system swap, but all other parts of the install can easily be done in the driveway.
The PerformancePac includes a High-Flow Cold-Air Induction System, stainless steel shorty headers, a stainless steel PowerFlo cat-back, 1.85:1 rocker arms, and SLP's dyno-based performance tuning contained in a DiabloSport II programmer. The goal of each kit, according to SLP, is to create a package that significantly improves performance without adversely affecting drivability. Much of the performance increase we saw came from the simple fact that the new setup allows more air in and out of the Avalanche's LM7 powerplant. SLP's Brian Reese agreed, and took it a step further: "With our package," he told us, "the motor is leaned out at wide-open throttle, improving performance over the rich factory settings."
Of course, an engine must be able to take advantage of increased airflow, and that's where the switch to 1.85:1 rocker arms pays off. "The key ingredient in the package is the high-lift rocker arms," asserts SLP's Reese. A stock LM7 cam running 1.7:1 rockers specs out at 0.457/0.466-inch lift and 191/190 duration at 0.050-inch. Bumping up the rocker ratio increases the lift to 0.497/ 0.507-inch, which is certainly a step in the right direction.
The custom programming is the final step, providing the engine with the tuning it needs to take advantage of the other modifications. The fuel and spark advance curves are optimized for performance, and the factory delay in the power-enrichment function that occurs at wide-open throttle is eliminated. "When it's floored," Reese told us, "You get the full thing." One thing the programming doesn't do, before you ask, is remove the factory 100-mph speed limiter, and for good reason. When SLP tried it, our source reports, the factory driveshaft yoke broke--and violently expelled the shaft. You've been warned. So, what did the PerformancePac do for our subject Avalanche? Making our dyno pulls in Second gear to avoid that pesky speed limiter, we picked up 33 hp and 26 lb-ft of torque. Had we been able to make our runs in Third gear, we undoubtedly would have registered greater gains, a supposition backed up by the Avalanche owner's subjective observations. "I didn't think it was underpowered before," he reports. "But I can really feel the extra power."
And from the "have your cake and eat it too" department, our subject's owner reports that the much-improved growl coming from the new exhaust system isn't overly loud. On top of that he's getting better gas mileage--another feature SLP engineered into the equation. Check out how this one-stop shopping trip added to this daily driver's fun factor. CHP