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Sales numbers, engines, and drivetrain components aren’t the only things changing in GM’s full size trucks. So have buyer’s reasons for purchasing a GM full size pickup.

Mr. Ballew says that in 2003 the five biggest considerations that shoppers cited in their Silverado or Sierra purchase were, in order: rebates, towing capability, value, exterior styling, and employee discounts. In 2007 they’ve become, in order: styling (interior and exterior), value, reputation, reliability, and dealership experience when buying.

These considerations aren’t accidental. Mr. White, says that in 2001, when General Motors looked forward in time to what buyers would want in the newly redesigned Silverado and Sierra, they focused on six areas to win in the market: exterior styling, interior styling, driving experience, safety, quality, and depth and breadth of the lineup.

To see how well GM has bridged the gap between its original GMT900 program goals and buyer’s feedback, we also had the opportunity at General Motor’s Milford Proving grounds to drive and compare the Silverado and Sierra to the latest light and heavy duty competition.

Several competitive stations were setup up around Milford for journalists to freely compare GM’s full size pickups with similarly equipped and configured offerings from Dodge, Ford, Nissan, and Toyota. They included tow testing up a constant 7.2% 1/3-mile grade, a towing slalom course, vehicle dynamics testing over a wet basalt tile skid pad, an autocross course, acceleration and braking runways, and a split μ (pronounced 'myoo' or 'mew', after a letter in the Greek alphabet) differential testing incline.

I spent time focused at four of the stations – the two tow tests, wet skid pad, and autocross.

When I drove the new GM Heavy Duty pickups during their media introduction back in February, GM only had a 2007 Ford F-250 Super Duty with the old 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel on hand for comparison. It almost wasn’t worth mentioning for the story. This time GM brought a 2008 Ford F-250 Super Duty SuperCrew 4x4, motivated by the new 6.4-liter PSD, to the comparo against a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax powered HD. Don’t get hung up on the model years. Both trucks went on sale within a month of each other earlier this year.

I took turns switching trucks and drag racing Sam Abuelsamid, from the awesomely cool and always up to the minute automotive news reporting website Autoblog, up the moderately steep grade. The F-250 and Silverado had identical 3.73 rear gear ratios. Each truck pulled a 12,000-pound ballasted trailer, without a windscreen.

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