We've said it before: Automakers can no longer go 20 years between pickup-truck redesigns. Faced with fierce competition from the new Dodge Ram and a heavily facelifted '04 Ford F-150, Chevrolet and GMC have freshened the Silverado and Sierra for '03, including Heavy Duty models (Sierra's changes are almost all under the skin, so you're looking at the '03 Silverado). It gets a toned-down Avalanche-look grille, front fenders, and hood, plus new body side moldings, taillamps, and bed rails. The half-ton extended-cab Silverado will be available with the revolutionary Quadrasteer four-wheel-steering system that debuted to accolades on the GMC Sierra Denali this year.

Both the Silverado and Sierra get a redesigned instrument panel and cluster, with space for a standard Driver Information Center. GM has also redone some of its switchgear, a response to constant press criticism that the current trucks' controls look cheap. A center console is now standard on bucket-seat-equipped trucks.

Underneath the sheetmetal, both trucks eliminate many wires and connection junctions via an updated wiring harness for improved quality and reliability. About 40 wires went into the door on the outgoing model; it's down to 15 for '03. The trucks get dual-zone heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems plus lots of new stereo options, including XM Satellite radio.