We are probably still at least a couple of decades away from economically feasible commercial vans and full-size trucks that are either directly powered by electricity or equipped with a fuel-cell stack that doesn’t cost its weight in gold, but it is still a pleasure to see even minor increments in fuel efficiency when it comes to vehicles whose main purpose in life is to help their owners earn a living. General Motors has just unveiled some official fuel economy numbers for their upcoming 2010 GMC Sierra and its twin brother Chevrolet Silverado. Powered by the same 5.3-liter V8 engine, both trucks will sport significant improvements in both city and highway driving cycles.
While you should always be skeptical about mpg numbers advertised by any given car manufacturer, official EPA estimates are a different thing and, as it comes for the 2010 Sierra and Silverado, the federal agency states that the refreshed models will have their fuel economy enhanced from 14 / 20 mpg to 15 / 21 mpg in city and highway cycles respectively, which is, again, 7 and 5 percent better than the current Sierra and Silverado can deliver in ideal conditions. Anything but groundbreaking or revolutionary, it is still a progress for a person who doesn’t have a heavy right foot and is willing to save a couple of bucks per day. After all, for a working man a truck is an investment and the sooner it pays off, the better it is for the business.
In its press release, GM says that the most fuel efficient 2010 GMC Sierra XFE model and its Silverado XFE sibling will return the same 15 mpg in the city, but will have their highway mileage improved by further 4.54 percent to 22 mpg (10.69 liters per 100 km,) which is really good for such a huge truck with an aerodynamics similar to that of a good old brick.
According to the company, the increase in fuel efficiency was achieved due to some minor tweaks in their Active Fuel Management system, which is capable to shut down half of the V8’s cylinders in lighter driving conditions (like, for example, running unloaded on a rural road carefully observing speed limits,) more efficient gear ratios in its six-speed transmission and this sort of stuff.
Although the 2010 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra offer only slight fuel efficiency improvement comparing to their main competitors, the new Ford F-150 5.4L (14/18 mpg city/highway, 4WD version) and the 2009 Dodge RAM 1500 5.7L (13/18 city/highway, 4WD, 5-speed auto version), the improvement in the number of miles that one can travel burning a sinlge gallon is nevertheless more than welcome now, when the oil prices seem to go through the roof again.
On the other hand, it still would be nice to see real world figures with the trucks driven by normal persons and carrying an average load of stuff that a normal contractor usually carries running his or her daily chores. Well, I mean, it is clear that the efficiency numbers will be less impressive, but I still wonder how well would the stack against competitors.
See also: 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe XFE