As Benson explained during our recent ride in the Michigan countryside, many of GM's commercial users operate their vehicles off-road, where traction is critical. Being stuck at a work site--or being unable to get there at all--can carry tremendous costs for the vehicle owners and the companies they work for.

"Not only are the Kodiak/TopKick 4x4s able to get to the job, they bring with them enhanced agility. These trucks can make surprisingly tight turns in confined areas, providing a tremendous advantage whether you're plowing a parking lot or maneuvering in a tight construction site," Benson explains.

Our short time driving around the GM Proving Grounds off-road course and on the open highways and backroads showed the new 4x4--available in regular and crew-cab configurations--is highly versatile and as easy to drive as any GM full-size pickup or van.

In fact, from the firewall to the back of the cab is GM 3500 Series van, including the dash, steering wheel, and doors. So slipping behind the wheel has the comfortable familiarity of being behind the wheel of any Silverado or Sierra.

Engine power and on- and off-road performance also are familiar; these rigs are motivated by either the standard 325-horsepower Vortec 8.1-liter V-8 gasoline engine or the 300-horsepower Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel. Both engines are backed by the Allison 1000 Series five-speed automatic transmission, which also is brought up from the heavy-duty pickups, along with electronic throttle control for smoother off-road driving.