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Keep on truckin'

There will always be a sunrise.

There will always be a sunrise.

There will always be an England.

And there will always be pickup trucks.

Sure, truck sales are off but an interesting thing is happening south of the border, and to a lesser extent here. Pickup truck sales (but not SUVs) are on the upswing.

As soon as the price of fuel started to drop, Americans began buying pickups again. So it turns out it’s the cost of fuel, not vehicle price, that’s a determining factor in truck purchasing.

And, frankly, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s federal infrastructure money starts flowing, people won’t be hauling wallboard and cement mixers to the job site in Honda Civics. They’re going to need a pickup.

However, there is still the uncertain cost of fuel. So the question is whether or not you can have your pickup cake and eat it too.

General Motors is alone in offered a full-size hybrid pickup that can tow up to 6,100 lb and get up to 9L/100 km on the highway. I know because I did it.

GM’s green trucks are based on the 2-Mode Hybrid System currently found in the GMC Yukon and Sierra, Chevrolet Tahoe and Silverado (tested here) and Cadillac Escalade.

This is a “full” hybrid system, in that it can operate on electric power, gasoline power or a combination of both for a claimed saving of up to 25 per cent.

While the GM Hybrid system is one of several affordable hybrid technologies, it is the most adaptable for large vehicles. In fact the 2-Mode hybrid system was adapted and refined from the hybrid technology GM has used in city buses since 2003. It is now the first hybrid system used in a full-size SUV.

The Hybrid’s drivetrain is the sum of three main components, each of which works together to provide seamless, economical and comfortable operation that goes virtually unnoticed by the driver and passengers. The components are an Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT), an Energy Storage System (ESS) and the Vortec 6.0-litre Gen IV V8 engine with Active Fuel Management (AFM). The AFM allows it to run on only four cylinders for light-energy demands.

At all times, the 2-Mode Hybrid system collects torque-based data, deciphers it, and then determines the most fuel-efficient means of propelling the vehicle.

This results in a number of ways to save fuel such as: engine off at idle; electric-only propulsion to 48 km/h in light load conditions; electric boosting during acceleration blends with engine power to save fuel; cutting off fuel to the engine during vehicle deceleration; active fuel management cylinder deactivation technology; and regenerative braking and engine speed and load control.

My tester was what you would call an Extended Cab “working truck” with cloth interiors and hard plastic trim.

The front seat is a 40/20/40 split bench with another slightly higher bench in the back in “stadium” style. With a few things like standard climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity, my tester was the base unit with a sticker price of $50,875.

The Silverado Hybrid has a fuel rating of 10.5L/100 km (27 mpg) city and 9.8L/100 km (29 mpg) highway.

Big and brawny, but with a heart of green, the Silverado Hybrid does show that you can still get the job done while making this a better world.

2009 Chevy Silverado 2-Mode Hybrid

Type: Full-size SUV
Price: Base, $50,875. As tested, $52,445 including $1,300 shipping fee
Engine: 6.0-litre, DOHC V8/electric motor (332 hp, 367 lb/ft)

Highlights
• Affordable hybrid system for a pickup
• Many standard features

 
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