General Motors Corp. previewed its new full-size sport utility vehicle lineup last week. Some details:
VEHICLES: 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon Denali, Cadillac Escalade (available in first quarter of 2006); Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon XL, GMC Yukon XL Denali, Cadillac Escalade ESV and EST (available in second quarter of 2006)
ENGINE: The vehicles have a standard V-8 available with different displacements, from a 4.8-liter with 290 horsepower to a 6.2-liter capable of 400 horsepower.
SAFETY: All have front air bags, stability control to help prevent rollovers and seat belts that tighten if the vehicle is struck from any direction. OnStar is included; side air bags are optional.
FUEL ECONOMY: GM says its full-size SUVs are the most fuel-efficient in the segment and will get an average of about 20 miles per gallon.
Source: General Motors Corp.
WARREN, Mich. -- General Motors Corp., in the awkward position of introducing a new lineup of full-size sport utilities with oil prices near record highs, stressed the vehicles' fuel efficiency during a media preview Sept. 20.
"We're very aware of fuel prices and the impact that they have on our business," said Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing for North America. "We understand this, and we've been committed to fuel efficiency."
GM unveiled the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon/Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade, which will be in dealerships in January. Later in 2006, the Chevy Suburban and Avalanche and larger versions of the Yukon and Escalade also will be available. GM didn't reveal prices.
Some analysts have questioned GM's emphasis on SUVs at a time when gas prices are high and demand for smaller crossovers is growing.
Sixty-six percent of GM's new vehicles are trucks and SUVs, compared with 37 percent for the industry, and GM is introducing fewer crossover vehicles than average, Merrill Lynch analyst John Casesa said in a recent report.
Mr. LaNeve said full-size SUVs aren't likely to see the boom times they saw early this decade, when industrywide sales approached 900,000 a year. GM is expecting 750,000 in sales next year.
But Mr. LaNeve said full-size SUVs remain a very important and profitable vehicle in the company's portfolio. Of the 6.5 million full-size SUV owners in the United States, 62 percent own GM vehicles, he said.
GM said the new, four-wheel-drive Tahoe can achieve an average of 20.1 mpg, compared with 18.2 for the 2004 Tahoe. The new SUVs are about 100 pounds heavier than current models, but the company got fuel savings by installing new V-8 engines that shut off half the cylinders when the truck needs less power.
Engineers also made the vehicles more aerodynamic. Even the luggage rack and running boards are shaped differently to improve efficiency.
GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said drivers who want even better fuel economy will be able to get hybrid versions of the SUVs in 2007. and GM also is considering diesel versions.
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