One of the perks of this job is getting to drive some of the coolest as well as the newest vehicles. Whether it's a Z06 Vette, one of the last Camaros, or the '04 Impala 9C1 police vehicle, we dig the experience. Typically, though, when we get a new truck, we are focused on the utility it demonstrates and the way the engineers have designed it to ride and carry a payload well, and exhibit cogent interior appointments--until we got our mitts on this Magnuson-supercharged '05 Silverado with the special Joe Gibbs Performance package.

Sure, we loved the red paint, special wheels and tires, and exterior appointments that gave it a performance look, but we're hard-core performance guys and wanted to see how well it would nail us back in the seat. So after we popped the hood for an initial inspection and gazed at the puffed 5.3L V-8 (395 hp, 425 lb-ft of torque), we could hardly wait to find a stretch of open highway and let it off the leash.

The JGP package is available on trucks (regular and extended cabs), Tahoes, and Avalanches equipped with either the 4.8L or 5.3L engine and the Gibbs/Magnuson-designed Eaton Generation V Roots-type supercharger/intercooler that our test truck had is a dealer-installed option. There is also available dealer-installed Baer Brake and Gibbs suspension kits. Our test truck had the Premium Package that included a host of exterior items, the wheels and tires, and special exhaust. Inside, we found the Gibbs-designed gauge cluster (with just 20 miles on the odometer) and embroidered leather seating. All JGP vehicles are identified with a specially numbered dash badge as well and carry a five-year/75,000-mile warranty on the powertrain.

Our test truck was factory equipped with a 3.73:1 Posi-traction axle and combined with the relatively tall tires and overdrive transmission, the engine ran effortlessly down the freeway at about 2,000 rpm. With just about 400 horses on demand, we couldn't help but see how well the truck accelerated from 65 mph on the open road. A quick stab of the "go" pedal put us quickly into the triple-digit zone. After we backed off the gas and wiped the huge smiles from our faces, we wanted more, so we exited the freeway and found an unsuspecting Type A personality waiting at a nearby traffic light in his BMW raggy. His furtive glance affirmed our suspicions. We were annoying and as soon as the light turned green, we would just effortlessly fall far behind his BMW in a neat, clean, surgical maneuver.

Surprise, Beemer Breath! We deliberately kept the Silverado's front bumper dead even with his across the intersection. He couldn't take it anymore and ordered his Swabian to assume full throttle. We nailed the gas and our supercharged Silverado shot ahead, putting about an acre of real estate between us. But the fun didn't stop there. Almost everywhere we took it, people wanted to hear about it, so we got pretty good at giving the 10-second synopsis through the side windows at traffic lights. The subtle attention to detail, the rumble, and the stance make this dude stand out.

The next morning, we trucked to California Speedway (Fontana, CA) to put it through some paces and did nothing in the way of special preparation. By now, the odometer had 125 on it and the tires still had the nubs on them. After two passes, we realized that the incredible low-speed torque demanded better traction. Off the line, we had to gently get into the gas pedal or we'd loose grip completely through First gear. Even while gingerly applying the pedal in this fashion, we still managed to produce a 14-second e.t. at 97.5 mph from the 4,500lb yahoo. With a stickier starting line and rear tires, this is an easy 13-second runner off the showroom. And the fuel economy is pretty decent, too. During the two-week session, we averaged in the 15- to 18-mpg range. We're sure we could have done better if we stayed out of the pedal, but with this much performance calling you, it sure is fun to blow off some steam now and then (read: constantly). CHP

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