General Motors Corp. will build a midsize version of the Chevrolet Avalanche sport/utility pickup for its GMC division at its Oklahoma City assembly plant, sources tell Ward's.

Codenamed GMT305, the crossover — unlike Avalanche — will feature an open-air retractable notchback over the cargo area, sources indicate.

“We'll introduce Avalanche functionality in the midsize truck segment, but with a new twist - an exclusive sport/utility truck,” says a GM executive.

The name for the new truck and planned yearly volumes are unclear. The crossover will have to share capacity with the GMT370 Chevy TrailBlazer EXT and Envoy XL sport/utility vehicles, extended versions of the midsize GMT360 SUV platform that are expected to begin salable production in early 2002.

GMT305 also is based on GMT360 architecture. Output of the GMC sport/utility pickup should get underway within two years, sources say, although plans to produce it in Oklahoma City do not appear to have been finalized yet.

Two other products in the pipeline: the much-rumored new entry level SUV for Chevy and “an innovative new body style” for one version of the next-generation Chevy Malibu.

In addition, the revitalization effort at Cadillac will get another kick from the introduction of a performance series, starting with a special version of the CTS due in early 2004 that will feature a beefed-up chassis and braking system and extensive powertrain refinements.

The souped-up CTS will be followed by similar upgrades for the STS and possibly a high-performance XLR.

However, there's nothing on the drawing board for a high-performance LAV, the cross/utility in the works for Cadillac.