First Drive: 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 2-Mode Hybrid Pickup

The most remarkable thing about GM's 2009 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2-Mode Hybrid full-size pickups is that they achieve EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings up to 21/22 mpg. Compared with 15/20 mpg for a comparable gas-only model, those figures represent an increase in city fuel economy of 40 percent. Don't expect the 6.0-liter V8 to start right up when you twist the key, since these trucks will accelerate (at gentle throttle) up to 30 mph on electric power alone. Beyond that, the system transparently blends engine and electric power to optimize efficiency, while GM Active Fuel Management lets half the V8's cylinders nap at light loads. Acceleration is strong when needed, and handling, ride, braking and steering -- like non- hybrid Silverados and Sierras -- are state-of-the-art for full-size pickups. Importantly, they can also tow up to 6,100 pounds. When these well-equipped and fully capable hybrid trucks become available (as Crew Cabs only) early in 2009, expect starting prices near those of fully loaded non-hybrid models.
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