Trucks are incredibly handy when you need them, as I found out recently when I needed to haul two sofas to a consignment store. Even though the test truck was a crew cab Chevy Silverado with a short bed, it was easy to fit two sofas in the back by using the extra length of the tailgate.

That kind of hauling versatility is what makes pickups so appealing these days.

In addition, they are as nicely appointed and as comfortable to drive as SUVs. The LT2 test truck had a navigation system, rear-seat entertainment center, power sunroof, Bose stereo, heated leather seats and a power sliding rear window.

Because the Silverado was all new last year, changes for 2008 are minor, but noteworthy. The most obvious is a new gauge package that has brighter pointers. Also, XM satellite radio is standard on all models, and a power driver's seat is available on regular cab models with a bench seat. Two new paint colors are offered as well.

An integrated trailer brake controller, formerly available only on heavy-duty models, is now offered on extended cab and crew cab models. This brake controller is integrated into the anti-lock brake system for better control while towing.

The 2008 Chevrolet Silverado comes in two-wheel or four-wheel drive in regular, extended and crew-cab models with three box lengths: 5 feet 8 inches, 6 feet 6 inches, and 8 feet. There are four trim levels.

I drove a four-wheel-drive crew-cab LT2 whose base price was $34,710

The Silverado was selected as Motor Trend's 2007 Truck of the Year and the 2007 North American Truck of the Year, both prestigious awards.

Engine choices range from a 4.3-liter V-6 to a 6.0-liter V-8. The 5.3-liter engine in the truck I drove had 315 horsepower, and it was capable of operating on E-85 ethanol. This engine also uses Chevy's active fuel management system to shut down four cylinders under moderate loads to save fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the mileage at 14 city and 19 highway. This engine has very little vibration, and acceleration is strong because the engine produces good power all across the rpm range.

The Silverado's cabin is very similar to the Tahoe's. It has woodgrain trim, brushed aluminum accents and a leather-like texture. Seams are few and gaps are small. The front seats are exceptionally comfortable, and the back seat folds flat for extra load space. The rear doors open wide to accommodate loading items.

Four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes are standard, and the LT2 has GM's StabiliTrak vehicle stability system.

The test truck also had roof-mounted side curtain airbags, power adjustable pedals and rear parking sensors. It's too bad a backup camera is not integrated into the navigation system's LCD screen.

The Silverado is offered with five suspension packages that range from one designed for comfort to one designed for off-road use. The test truck was equipped with the Z85 suspension designed to deliver good handling and towing capability. The ride was smooth without being overly soft. The truck's stability is due in part to a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension and a wider track. The rear shock absorbers are angled up and out for better handling.

Price The test truck's base price was $34,710. Options included a navigation system, rear-seat entertainment system, power seats, power locks, heated outside mirrors, steering-wheel controls for the radio, heated windshield washer fluid, remote vehicle start, side-curtain airbags, adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors and the easy-lift tailgate. The sticker price was $43,025.

Warranty Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.