Chicago auto show: Edge gets edgier, and a lot of trucks

The Chicago auto show has a reputation as a truck show, and it won't give much ground on that this year. General Motors gm, especially, is rolling out an intriguing array of trucks not seen at the Detroit show last month — or anywhere else.

Other automakers have a variety of models top show, including sleek coupes and updated sedans. Dodge is unveiling the production version of the Challenger at the show.

Here's the hot stuff making its debut at the Chicago show, open to media representatives Wednesday and Thursday and to the public Friday through Feb. 17.

2009 Ford Edge Sport: The Edge is getting edgier with a factory-customized model that has lower-profile tires, a lower grille and bigger wheels. The latest version of the popular crossover will go on sale this fall. In addition to the wheels and grille, the Edge Sport has side and rear skirts and polished dual exhaust tips. It will be available in blue, black, silver and red with dark gray leather seats. The Sport Edge joins the SE, SEL and Limited models in the Edge family.

GMC Denali XT hybrid concept: A product of Holden, General Motors' Australian unit, it sports a cargo bed that might be just a skosh undersize for the U.S. — half an inch too narrow to slide in a 4-foot-wide sheet of plywood or drywall, and just 4 feet 7 inches long – unless you drop the Chevrolet Avalanche-style midgate to open the interior for cargo use. A concept with little chance of making production, its hybrid drivetrain mates a 4.9-liter V-8 to an electric-drive system. GM says such a vehicle should be able to tote 1,100 lbs., tow up to 3,500 lbs. — similar to a conventional compact pickup. GM calls it an SUT — sport-utility truck — and says it's meant to test reaction to some ideas GM has for future designs.

2009 GMC Sierra dual-mode hybrid: A big truck with a small appetite? GM says that's what you get when you combine a powerful V-8 with an electric drive system. On sale fourth quarter this year, it'll be available with either rear- or four-wheel drive, but only in the crew-cab configuration. GM says it's possible to run on battery power up to 30 mph before needing the gasoline engine. Which is a serious one: 6-liter V-8 rated 332 hp, 367 lbs.-ft. of torque. Totes more than 1,400 lbs. in the cargo bed, GM says, and tows up to 6,100 lbs. Fuel economy boost from the hybrid system is supposed to be 40% in town, 25% overall. That implies 18 to 20 mpg in most types of driving, up from 13 to 16 mpg for the gasoline-only versions, depending on drivetrain.

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