Watching the gauges to see what kind of fuel economy we could get became something of a game as we navigated the clogged arteries of Westwood near UCLA. Much of the time the engine was either in full electric mode or V

The heart of the system, inside the conventionally shaped transmission bellhousing, consists of two electric motors and four stationary gearsets that distribute the flow of power. The engine and motors transfer torque to a series of gears in the transmission back and forth between two modes so smoothly it's impossible to detect any shifting. A 300V), and a special converter produces 12e're told the transmission is so smart and strong there wasn't any need to include a pushbutton Tow/Haul mode. That remains to be seen. We didn't get much highway driving time, either, but the fact that the Tahoe has 3.08:1 gears, a more aggressive V

It looks like GM's going to be cautious with the rollout, making only a small number of the Hybrid 2 Modes in its Arlington, Texas, plant, as GM carefully gauges demand. Chevy and GMC will get the hybrids first, but expect Cadillac and Hummer to be close behind. Although prices haven't been released yet, we can't imagine Chevy or GMC will let the Hybrid 2 Mode be the most expensive model in their respective lineups. The Chevy should cost around $40,000 and the GMC $45,000. It makes sense that a game-changer should be somewhat affordable, especially one that allows you to carry seven people and haul a 6000


How GM Engineers Reduced Mass
• All-aluminum hood and liftgate
• Aluminum front and rear bumper beams
• Most of the driveshaft made of aluminum
• Almost 10 pounds removed from each seat; (however, third-row option still identical to all other full-size GM SUVs)
• Much smaller, lighter 12-volt battery
• New aluminum wheels on all hybrids

GMC Yukon Hybrid
The Chevy Tahoe 2 Mode will be sold only in midlevel trim, but the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2 Mode will offer a higher trim-level package, yet its price is said to fall well below the Yukon Denali option package. Chevy pricing will be about $40,000, with the GMC equivalent able to garner around $45,000. Some reports have GM willing to take a $7000 hit for the first year or two before it can get a tighter handle on specialty manufacturing costs. For now, only one plant is producing the variants, but the system is flexible enough to spread to other full- or midsize SUV and truck plants when needed.

Remember the Pickup Hybrid?
Astute truck aficionados know this isn't GM's first foray into hybridland. In fact, just last year (as a 2007 model), Chevy and GMC offered a hybrid truck as a contractor's special. The word "hybrid" confused some because the Parallel Hybrid Silverado and Sierra never ran on electric power but did have an electric starter generator and an engine shutoff mode. Reportedly providing an eight- to 10-percent fuel benefit and four 110d never caught on, and GM has since frozen the pickup version. As you might imagine, the new 2 Mode system seems tailormade for a much better, more practical pickup application--if GM builds a Hybrid 2 Mode pickup, it could arrive for the 2010 model year.