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MSRP Range: $35,345 - $52,855
Fuel Economy: 11 MPG city / 14 MPG highway

New hybrid model improves fuel economy.

Faced with rising gas prices and eco-protests, the market for full-size SUVs has seen better times. General Motors answers the call for better fuel economy with the 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid. Equipped with the new two-mode hybrid system, the Yukon Hybrid gets an EPA-rated 21 mpg City, matching ratings with a four-cylinder Camry.

The entire GMC Yukon lineup was completely redesigned and re-engineered last year and carries into 2008 with few changes other than the addition of the Hybrid model. The Yukon rides on the same superb platform as the Chevy Suburban and Silverado.

Yukon offers power, space, and towing capacity. It can haul large loads of gear, it can survive repeated pounding over rugged terrain, it can pull heavy trailers, all while transporting four in luxurious comfort.

Inside, the Yukon features a simple, elegant dash that hints at aspirations for entry-luxury status. The Yukon is available with seating configurations for five to nine passengers. Seating in the first and second rows has plenty of room, but the third row is best left for kids and has to be removed for maximum cargo space.

Engine choices include four V8s. The popular 5.3-liter V8 engine provides plenty of power and has a system that shuts down half the cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy. The Denali model's 6.2-liter V8 generates 380 horsepower and comes with a six-speed automatic, making it almost as fuel efficient as the 5.3-liter and one of the more powerful offerings in the class. The new Hybrid powertrain features a 6.0-liter V8 boosted by two electric motors. The Hybrid delivers 332 horsepower and fuel economy that rivals some sedans. The Yukon is rated to tow up to 8200 pounds when properly equipped, enough to tow cars, boats and horses; the Hybrid has less towing capacity.

Ride and handling characteristics are typical of large SUVs. The Yukon leans in turns and is not agile. The ride quality, on the other hand, is impressive, even with the Denali's available 20-inch polished wheels that add a touch of high fashion trendiness.

We found the new two-mode hybrid system worked seamlessly. The system uses two electric motors in GM's new Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT) that has four fixed gears. The EVT is mated to a 6.0-liter version of the 6.2-liter V8 that also has Active Fuel Management. Total output is 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. One of the motors aids power at low speeds and the other lends a hand at highway speeds. With just a little throttle, the electric motor can propel the Yukon up to 30 mph. Get on it a little harder, and the gasoline engine kicks in just as smoothly as in any Toyota hybrid. Like other systems, the gasoline engine turns off at stoplights and restarts as soon as it's needed.

The better news is Hybrid fuel economy. With 2WD, the Yukon Hybrid is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. With 4WD, those numbers are 20 city/20 highway. The 2WD city number matches that of the four-cylinder Toyota Camry, though the highway number is substantially less than the Camry's 31 mpg. While the Hybrid has considerably less towing capacity at 6000 pounds with 4WD and 6200 pounds with 2WD, that's still enough for the Hybrid to be used for many towing needs.

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