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GM's dynasty building continues with the introduction of the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra at this year's Chicago Auto Show.

The looks of today's pickup trucks are what most buyers and the media tend to focus and comment on. They may not be everything but they sure mean something.

When the Silverado and Sierra twins debuted in 1999, GM heard from many parts of the automotive media that it had not gone as far stylistically as its competition, the 1994 Dodge Ram and 1996 Ford F-150. It had also not done enough to differentiate the two brands from each other. But GM did listen closely in consumer clinics to previous generation C/K truck owners. These owners wanted to maintain their pickup's square shouldered and subtle looks. GM's reaction to these comments was to streamline and soften the body lines for 1999 while still keeping alive the spirit and style of the C/K. It was a wise choice judging by today's sales figures.

The two trucks debuting in Chicago now differ from each other to a much greater degree.

For 2003 the Silverado gets Chevrolet's new familial look, first seen in the all new Avalanche and TrailBlazer SUV. As with those trucks, the Silverado's front end treatment is extremely aggressive and angular. In fact, it's quite a risky and bold departure from the much more conservatively styled 2002 pickup. The hood is brand new, as are its integrated headlights. The grille is even larger than that of the Avalanche's but it doesn't inherit the same exaggerated wheel arches or lower fascia. New body side molding, six spoke wheels, additional exterior colors and new tailamps round out next year's changes.

Will GM be scolded again by the media, this time for going too far? Possibly, but that isn't the point. Actually, that's by far the lesser risk. The real question on everyone's mind is will this new look be eagerly adopted by current Chevrolet truck owners and help pull new buyers into the fold?

The 2003 GMC Sierra takes a different tack with its new appearance. Though some might call it conservative, perhaps hedging the bold look of the Silverado, it wears a strong, industrially styled grille sporting three bars that appear to be finely milled from annodized steel. Below the grille, the Sierra's prominent chin sports a new chrome bumper with optional larger integrated fog lamps.

Where the Silverado's new front end shouts to the world that brute force will be applied to overcome any obstacle, the Sierra's precision machined appearance is a further evolution towards moving the Sierra away from the Silverado toward its own unique "Professional Grade" identity. It also clearly shows the ongoing migration of DNA from GMC's critically well received series of Terra concept trucks. Other exterior changes include new side trim, new 16-inch six spoke wheels and additional paint colors.

Of note, these new exterior changes will not be carried over to GMC's high end Sierra Denali pickup which retains its own distinctive look shared only with the GMC Yukon Denali SUV.

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