Dodge Ram 1500 Improved Cylinder Deactivation
The Dodge boys poured huge development dollars into their all-new '09 Dodge Ram. Even though the 5.7L Hemi is known for power, its enhanced cylinder-deactivation technology makes it pretty efficient. Because the improved '09 Hemi produces 390 hp when running on only four cylinders, it still produces enough juice to keep the Ram cruising at 70 mph. This gives the new 1500 the ability to score 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.

Also, compared to '08 models with the Hemi, when half the engine shuts down on '09 models you notice it whereas in past years you couldn't. Being able to tell when the engine is running more efficiently is a tool fuel-conscious drivers can use to squeeze out more miles from every gallon.

News & Fun Stuff
Who's not sick of higher fuel prices and the never-ending whining that seems to go with pump-price sticker shock? Well, GM and Dodge care about your pain and are happy to sell you brand-new trucks that get better mileage than pre-'09 units.

GM's XFE Models
General Motors just started building new XFE-Xtra Fuel Economy-models of the '09 Chevy Silverado, Chevy Tahoe, GMC Sierra, and GMC Yukon. The vehicles use a combination of mechanical, aerodynamic and mass-reducing enhancements to deliver a 5-percent increase in EPA-estimated highway fuel economy and more than 7-percent improved mileage in city driving.

The aero enhancements make Silverado XFE and Sierra XFE more aerodynamic than standard models. The XFE twins (two-wheel-drive Crew Cab body styles only) achieve a 0.412 coefficient of drag (Cd). This isn't far off from the all-new Dodge Ram 1500, which slips through the wind at only 0.399 Cd (Regular Cab Sport trim).

The new XFE models are available on 2WD vehicles equipped with the 5.3L V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission. They achieve 15 city and 21 highway mileage ratings versus comparable non-XFE models' 14/20 ratings. Most importantly, the increased efficiency does not come at the expense of capability. Towing ratings increase from 6,600 pounds (2,994 kg) to 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg) due to the new six-speed transmission and high-capacity cooling package.

The new XFE models use the 5.3L flexible-fuel V-8 (LC9) engine that's built with a mass-reducing aluminum cylinder block and heads. It is rated at 315 hp and 338 lb-ft of torque. The engine is backed by a Hydramatic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission with high-capacity cooling. A fuel-saving rear-axle 3.08 ratio with an automatic locking feature is also standard, as are lightweight aluminum wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires.

Other XFE-unique content includes: a soft tonneau cover, an extended front lower air dam, and lowered suspension for improved aerodynamics, plus aluminum lower control arms and aluminum wheels to reduce mass.

Escalade Hybrid
GM's blingmeister, the Cadillac Escalade, is now available with a two-mode hybrid powertrain. The Electra-lade uses the same system as Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrids. These feature an all-aluminum 6.0L with variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation, and a sophisticated electrically variable transmission (EVT). The EVT includes four fixed gears plus two sets of electric motors powered by 300 volts of juice stored in batteries located under the second row of seats.

The '09 Escalade hybrid gets 50-percent better city mileage and posts 20-mpg-city/21-mpg-highway EPA numbers. The hybrid model only costs $3,600 more than a regular Escalade, bringing its retail price to $71,685.

Compared to most hybrids, the premium for the Escalade hybrid is minimal, and as good as the system is we don't know why every buyer wouldn't want the hybrid. Chrome reflects green too.