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GM pickup boasts 23 mpg

New V-8 model hoping to dethrone Ford F-Series

– Chevrolet is upping the ante in the tug-of-war with Ford over America’s favorite vehicles: pickup trucks.

General Motors said Monday its new Chevy Silverado will get 23 miles per gallon on the highway with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine. That’s a little better than similarly equipped competitors from Ford, Chrysler and Toyota. The new trucks also promise more towing power.

That could help the Silverado get closer to unseating Ford’s F-Series trucks, which have been the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. for 30 years. GM sold 575,497 Silverados and GMC Sierras – the Silverado’s upscale twin – last year. Ford beat that by nearly 70,000 trucks.

The Silverado will have a starting price of $23,590 excluding shipping. That’s $80 less than Ford’s F-150 but $950 more than Chrysler’s Ram. The Sierra will start at $24,090. GM’s Allen County truck assembly plant is one of the company’s three sites that builds the Silverado and Sierra.

GM is rolling out the new trucks in late spring or early summer. They replace models that were last revamped in 2007.

The timing is good. Truck sales are growing rapidly after a five-year slump as contractors and others replace aging trucks they held onto during the recession. Pickup sales were expected to rise 15 percent last month over March 2012, the biggest growth of any segment.

GM says its V-8 bests Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 in fuel economy. The EcoBoost V-6 promises the power of a V-8 with the fuel economy of a smaller engine. It’s been a big hit, getting 22 mpg on the highway. Ford says 43 percent of F-150 buyers choose the EcoBoost over Ford’s three other options.

The Ram currently boasts the best fuel economy in the truck segment. Its 3.6-liter V-6 can get up to 25 mpg on the highway. GM said it hasn’t finished testing the fuel economy of its V-6 engines.

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