2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid
2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid
2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

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2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid

San Antonio, Texas – Say “hybrid,” and what pops into your head?

You can be forgiven if the first thing that comes to mind isn’t Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra. When one thinks of fuel efficiency, one doesn’t normally think about pickup trucks.

But consider that pickup trucks make up more than 12 per cent of all vehicles sold in Canada, averaging around 200,000 units per year for the past decade. And consider also that for businesses large and small, from family farms to construction companies, owning a pickup truck is a necessity and not a choice. These vehicles are tools, and choosing a smaller vehicle is just not possible. Fuel is a cost of doing business.

Improving the fuel economy of pickup trucks could save a lot of fuel, keep a lot of pollutants out of the environment, and save business a lot of money. Makes good sense, right?

Manufacturers have responded by making gasoline and diesel engines more fuel efficient, relatively speaking, while maintaining the power needed to haul and tow heavy loads. Now, General Motors has introduced a full hybrid powertrain that will maximize fuel economy without giving up any of the heavy hauling capability for which these trucks are needed.

The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 hybrid pickups have been rated by Canada’s Energuide at 9.8 L/100 km in the city and 9.2 L/100 km on the highway for two-wheel drive trucks, and 10.5/9.8 L/100 km city/highway for four-wheel drive versions.

To put this in perspective, rear-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrids have better city fuel economy than six-cylinder versions of the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and better than some popular four-cylinder vehicles, such as the Subaru Legacy and Toyota Matrix AWD.

2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid
2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

This feat is even more impressive when you consider that the powerplant in the Sierra and Silverado is neither a four- nor a six-cylinder, but a 6.0-litre V8 with a 2,767 kg (6,100 lbs) towing and 662 kg (1,459 lbs) payload capacity!

And haul it will, as I found on my tour around suburban San Antonio, alternately pulling a large boat and weighted horse trailer. The trucks pull away smoothly from a stop and accelerate well onto the freeway. At cruising speed, the engine, equipped with Active Fuel Management (AFM) and late intake valve closing (LIVC) technology, will shut down four cylinders and cruise in V4 mode. The hybrid system can also provide a power boost at speed, to keep the engine operating for longer periods in V4 mode.

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