Chevy has one hell of a powertrain with the Duramax diesel and Allison six-speed automatic transmission. Last summer I towed some impressive loads that ranged from large campers to a piece of heavy equipment in the hills of Maryland and really appreciated the integrated exhaust brake that comes with the Duramax/Allison combination. It was incredibly cool to set cruise control to, say, 65 mph and have the truck climb and descend 5 degree grades with 10,000-12,000 pounds in tow. If you've ever towed a trailer down a hill and had a difficult time keeping the rig at your desired speed, you'll realize the integrated exhaust brake is one of the best safety features to come to light duty pickups in a long time.
Despite this truck's huge size, it's fairly easy to drive. You need to pay extra attention when you're in a tight spot due to the dual rear wheels, but the suspension is surprisingly comfortable for a maxed-out one-ton truck with a diesel engine and no weight in the bed or on the hitch. It's still much more at home on empty country roads than suburban areas, but it's amazing how far pickup truck ride quality has come while the maximum payload and towing capacities keep growing.
The Achilles' heel of this big truck is its interior. Chevy had a choice to make during the truck's mid-cycle refresh about where to spend the limited development dollars available. Instead of stamping new sheetmetal or revamping the interior, all of that money went into a new frame, revised diesel engine, and better suspension. It's difficult to distinguish the current truck from the first GMT900 based on the sheetmetal and interior, but if you hook up equal trailers to both trucks and drive them the differences are immediately apparent.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor