There aren't that many street performance trucks out there these days. The Silverado SS, Ford Lightning, and Dodge Ram SRT10 are gone, and the only truck Ford SVT makes is the Raptor -- an awesome high-performance off-road-biased truck, but not a street rod. Even when those pickups were around, they represented a big compromise: To get better performance, the towing, payload capacity, and fuel economy suffered.

That doesn't have to be the case. There are options out there for those who want some street performance with actual capability at the job site: work trucks. The regular-cab configuration, along with a lack of interior and power amenities, means lower overall weight. Add to that the diesel engine option and rear drive, and you get a pickup with light weight, excellent fuel economy, and the highest possible towing and payload capacities in the line.

It was just this combination that we had the chance to drive recently at GM's proving ground in Michigan. This specific truck is a development vehicle used internally, but is current on all computer-programming updates and is powered by an early-build Duramax. And while the badges say 3500HD, it is actually a three-quarter ton (2500HD). Based on a 133.6-inch wheelbase, this is the work-truck version of the new Sierra HD, with a regular cab, rear drive, and long bed. That it is the work truck means forgoing such creature comforts as power windows, navigation system, rearview camera, and more, but for those who are okay with that, the payoff is huge.