V-8 Engines Going the Way of the Tailfin?

The world changed on Dec. 19, when President George W. Bush signed a new energy bill forcing automakers to improve fleet fuel efficiency by a whopping 40 percent by 2020.

Published: 10-Jan-2008

Environmental sensibilities grow more anguished by the day, hence the mandate to be responsible. No wonder fire-breathing V-8s and drag-strip horsepower have become unhip.

I've been test driving a GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicle, powered by a 6.0-liter, V-8 connected to a 300-volt battery, with two electric motors that help drive the wheels. In city driving the Yukon gas-electric hybrid claims 21 miles per gallon, a 50 percent improvement over a Yukon powered by a V-8 only.

At highway speeds, the V-8 can run in energy-efficiency mode, with only half its cylinders firing. This Yukon is no science project; it can be purchased starting later this month for $51,000 at a GMC dealership.

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