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Heavy Duty Pickup Wars Intensify

Posted: Mar 10, 2010 10:38 a.m.

Just yesterday we gave you a rundown of reviewer impressions of the 2011 Ford Super Duty pickup trucks. With a giant diesel engine that makes 390 horsepower and 735 pound feet of torque, it looked like Ford was going to stay on top of the heavy duty pickup heap. At least, it looked that way until GM released its new HD pickup engine numbers.

Pickuptrucks.com reports, "GM announced that the updated 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel for the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups will make 397 hp (at 3,000 rpm) and a mind-blowing 765 pounds-feet of torque (at 1,600 rpm). That’s 105 more pounds-feet of twist than the 2010 Duramax V-8. We just warped our keyboard writing that."

Still, Autoblog points out that engine power doesn't always translate into utility. "A closer look at the numbers does reveal some give-and-take, however. The Ford's maximum tow rating is 24,000 pounds, while GM's is 20,000 pounds. And while not exactly engine related, the Ford truck also has a higher max payload than the GM twins."

Pickuptrucks.com says "The Duramax V-8, dubbed 'LML' internally, is the latest generation of GM's HD diesel since it was introduced in 2001. Sixty percent of its parts are new, and Duramax chief engineer Gary Arvan said it will be 11 percent more fuel efficient than the previous LMM Duramax."

The updated 2011 Silverado HD was displayed at the Chicago auto show, and reviewers were mostly pleased with what they saw. However, first drives of the Super Duty trucks were extremely positive -- so the GM trucks may need all that power to crawl to the top of the class.

What might help is that GM is offering the luxurious Denali trim on GMC Sierra HD trucks for the first time. Motor Trend says "GMC has always been about "Professional Grade" trucks, but the Denali trim level takes it up a notch or two -- it's the package for people who work hard but like to do it in style, too." The 2011 GMC Sierra Denali HD is currently on display at the National Truck Equipment Association Work Truck Show. Both the 2011 Silverado and Sierra HD trucks are expected to hit dealerships in early summer.

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.