A SLEEPING GIANT

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General Motors is the only pickup manufacturer to offer a hybrid gas-electric engine, in full-size GMC Sierras and Chevy Silverados.

GM took a pass on most new truck equipment for 2010, but to be fair the company not only staved off bankruptcy last year but also introduced the industry's most fuel-efficient full-size pickups in its Two-Mode Hybrid system, which took years to come to market. Improvements include standard side curtain airbags and seat-mounted side airbags on all 1500 models for 2010.

The Chevrolet Silverado and matching GMC Sierra Two-Mode Hybrid models achieve a 40 percent increase in city fuel economy and a 25 percent improvement in overall fuel economy over previous models (up to 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway). Yet they can do the work of an ordinary pickup, delivering a top payload of 1,820 pounds and up to 10,700 pounds of towing capacity. This hybrid system includes two powerful electric motors built into the drive train that allow it to propel a fully loaded pickup up to 30 mph before its "normal" 6.0-liter gas engine has to take over, saving fuel even when the truck is hauling a trailer. The V8 engine can also shut down half its cylinders and operate in an economical V4 mode when full power is not required. Combined with a 26-gallon fuel tank, the Silverado/Sierra twins now have a cruising range of over 500 miles.

GM's other models see only minor changes for 2010. The Silverado and Sierra 1500s offer standard 4.8-, 5.3-, and 6.2-liter V8 engines with E85 fuel capability. A 6-speed automatic transmission has been added to regular and extended cab models with the 5.3-liter V8. Electronic stability control is now standard on all 1500 models. And the Silverado and Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD models offer 13,000 pounds maximum trailering or a 16,700-pound fifth-wheel towing capability.

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Midsize Hummer H3T pickups, introduced last year, may be sold to a Chinese auto company by General Motors.

For the midsize Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, engine options include a 5.3-liter V8 introduced last year (300 hp and 320 pound-feet of torque) in addition to the original inline five-cylinder 3.7-liter engine (242 hp and 242 pound-feet of torque) and an inline four-cylinder 2.9-liter engine (185 hp and 190 pound-feet of torque). Head curtain side airbags are now standard on all models. A high-performance ZQ8 sport package returned as well.

As noted above, the midsize Hummer H3T pickup is still available through former GM Hummer dealers. It offers standard full-time four-wheel drive and both front and rear locking differentials, plus a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions, and comes with either the 3.7-liter five-cylinder engine also found on GM's Canyon and Colorado models, or with GM's 5.3-liter V8 in the H3T Alpha edition.