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2006 GMC Sierra

by Martha Hindes

GMC Sierra Hybrid Review
GMC Sierra  Interior

For the past year or so, GMC's slogan has been "professional grade." That tagline gets an extra kick with the 2006 hybrid version of the Sierra half-ton pickup - cousin of Chevy's hybrid Silverado. Case in point. Many Sierras are bought for heavy-duty work such as construction industry jobs or for down and dirty camping trips far from the maddening crowds. Wouldn't it be nice to plug a coffee pot or microwave oven into a standard AC electric outlet in the middle of nowhere and have dinner on schedule instead of trying to fan a campfire into life? That's reality with the hybrid Sierra. With four 120-volt 20 amp underseat or truck bed power outlets, one could operate power equipment or even save a refrigerator full of food for 30 hours during a major power outage.

The gasoline electric hybrid Sierra gives out lots of voltage, but it doesn't need to take it back in through a special heavy duty garage outlet or recharge posting station halfway through a trip. Rather, the motions of driving, braking or coasting alone continuously recharge the 40-volt lead acid battery pack that assists the drive system with starting and acceleration, and helps boost mileage.

Once past the differences in technology beyond standard internal combustion engine action, Sierra remains a GMC staple workhorse that retains its heavyweight hauler ability to tow as much as 7,700 pounds. It comes in budget-minded two-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive version when demands are tough.

Changes for '06 models -- available throughout the U.S. for the first time -- include revised extendible outside camper mirrors for a greater field of vision. Two new colors, Steely Gray Metallic and Stealth Gray Metallic, are added. On the amenities side, there's available XM Satellite radio with steering wheel controls combined with GM's OnStar safety/communications system. And for the discerning camper, premium Bose sound is available with a passenger-side Panasonic DVD system, combined with next-generation Radio Data System. Gone are multiple antennas. Signal receptors now combine as one unobtrusive module.

Sierra has more than one earth friendly trick. Among non-hybrid versions is an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) version, and a 6.0-liter, V-8 that can run on gasoline or compressed natural gas. Upmarket amenities include chromed front bumpers, tilt-adjustable power steering, full-size spare, heavy duty battery, "PASSLock II" theft deterrent, and driver information system. For those intent on going hyrid and who don't mind plunking down about a high $20K base, traveling just got a whole lot more interesting.