If you're looking for the strongest V8 in any half-ton pickup, you'll find it in the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and its corporate cousin, the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500. The optional GM 6.2-liter V8 cranks out 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, humbling both the Ford F-150 model's 6.2-liter V8 (411 hp and 434 lb-ft) and the RAM 1500 model's 5.7-liter V8 (395 hp and 407 lb-ft), not to mention the Toyota Tundra's 5.7-liter V8 (381 hp and 401 lb-ft). As for GM's previous 6.2-liter truck V8, it was rated at 403 hp and 417 lb-ft, so that motor is old news, as well.

Of course, the numbers don't mean much if they don't translate into real-world capability, but that's not a problem for the new Silverado and Sierra. When equipped with the 6.2-liter V8 and the Max Trailering Package, GM's workhorses can tow up to 12,000 pounds, which would have put most heavy-duty trucks to shame not long ago. Not surprisingly, that's considerably more than any other half-ton pickup can tow for 2014. Included with the Max Trailering Package are an automatic locking rear differential, a heavy-duty 9.75-inch rear axle with shorter gearing and upgraded rear leaf springs to handle all that weight.

One question mark for the new 6.2 is fuel economy. The success of Ford's EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 has made pickup-truck gas mileage a hot topic, and it's a safe bet that the big GM V8 won't be a fuel sipper. Still, GM's new 5.3-liter V8 manages to beat the EcoBoost V6 in highway miles per gallon, so the 6.2 might turn out to be more fuel efficient than you'd think.

The only other issue we can see is that the 6.2 is only available on higher-end trim levels, at least for now. Unlike RAM, for example, which offers the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 in reasonably priced work trucks, Chevrolet limits the 6.2 to the luxurious Silverado LTZ and High Country models, while GMC similarly restricts the big motor to the fancy Sierra SLT and Denali.

What it means to you: The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 are the new leaders in this ongoing arms race, and the 6.2-liter V8 is robust enough that it might win over some folks who typically go with heavy-duty trucks.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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