2008 Chicago Auto Show: 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid

  • Competes with: Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra
  • Looks like: Your local GMC dealership slapped some stickers on the side of a crew-cab Sierra
  • Drivetrain: 332-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 with four-speed automatic transmission that incorporates two 60-kilowatt electric motors; rear- or four-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2008

Like its more popular sibling, the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck is now available with GM's 2 Mode Hybrid system. Available exclusively in the crew cab body style, the Sierra Hybrid is expected to use one-quarter less gas than a regular Sierra. Official fuel economy figures haven't been released, but look for the Sierra Hybrid to get a combined rating of 20-21 mpg.

The Sierra Hybrid's 6.0-liter V-8 teams with GM's Electrically Variable Transmission, which integrates two electric motors into the transmission housing. Those motors are powered by a 300-volt hybrid battery pack under the backseat. With this system, the truck gains a driving characteristic — the ability to accelerate on electric power alone — that you might normally associate with a hybrid like the Toyota Prius.

Additional energy-saving measures include cylinder deactivation, regenerative braking and engine auto-stop when the truck is stationary. The rear-wheel-drive Sierra Hybrid can tow up to 6,100 pounds, while the four-wheel-drive model can pull 5,900 pounds. Both figures trail the maximum ratings of the regular crew cab by significant margins (10,200 and 10,500 pounds, respectively).

In passing, the Sierra Hybrid doesn't look much different from its gas-only sibling. Look closer, though, and you'll see a number of exterior changes. First of all, the thing is plastered with special graphics: "hybrid" is spelled out on the windshield, rear window and on both sides of the truck. It also gets hybrid badges on the front fenders and tailgate.

In terms of more substantial changes, the truck rides on low-rolling-resistance tires that are wrapped around 18-inch aluminum wheels. To improve aerodynamics, the front air dam is deeper and the truck comes with a tonneau cover. More photos below.

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