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This rigidity and quiet makes for a much better long-term relationship, since the trucks will beat you up and shake themselves apart less.

While GM did not supply the uber-power needs of the few by supplying a V6, it certainly gave the many a much better deal with the I-4 and I-5 engines.

The Vortec 2800 I-4 delivers more horsepower (175) and torque (185) than other competing four-cylinders, while the Vortec 3500 I-5 has horsepower (220) and torque (225) that's better than or comparable to competitors’ base-level six-cylinder engines.

Those peak numbers do not adequately describe the skills of these engines, since they both deliver solid, smooth juice right up the power curve. The I-5 naturally delivers more grunt, but the I-4 does very well by the driver in most real world situations.

Indeed, if you're looking for a compact pickup with good fuel economy, decent power and the ability to haul people or stuff on an irregular basis, the I-4 with the standard five-speed manual shifter could suit you very well. And GM is making more of an effort to provide front-wheel-drive choices to the snow-deprived parts of the continent, so that's good news for the folks who want an on-road vehicle.

This does not mean that GM has pulled back from the demands of the off-road warriors or the folks who want a real work truck -- that payload issue notwithstanding. There's still a daunting variety of bed, configuration, suspension and payload to choose from.

But the feeling remains that GM has now embraced the modern reality of the compact pickup market -- that they're now mostly bought as personal use vehicles with strong functionality features, rather than as work trucks with some creature features added on.

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