It certainly seemed like a forward-thinking business proposition at the time -- take advantage of rising fuel prices and the impending green revolution by marrying gas-saving hybrid technology with a perennially popular full-size pickup truck. But although the first-generation Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid was GM's first-ever hybrid passenger vehicle when it debuted in 2005, this truck's "mild hybrid" technology and limited availability put a damper on its appeal. With a revamped truck platform waiting in the wings, the original Silverado Hybrid was phased out after a few years and replaced by a more advanced "dual-mode" version based on the new platform.
The current Silverado Hybrid's dual-mode technology enables its gasoline-powered V8 and twin electric motors to work either separately or in tandem -- the gas engine shuts off at low speeds when it isn't needed, and it seamlessly re-engages when acceleration is called for, remaining permanently active above 29 mph. Cylinder deactivation (from eight to four) also takes over during relaxed cruising. However, this powertrain delivers lackluster and nonlinear acceleration, and while it can yield up to 40 percent better city mileage than a standard V8 Silverado, highway mileage is only slightly improved. Overall, the latest Silverado Hybrid's high initial cost, powertrain quirks and limited fuel economy gains make us question its value for many potential buyers.
Current Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid is a full-size crew cab pickup available in two trim levels and your choice of two- or four-wheel drive. Like its GMC Sierra twin, this high-tech truck employs a 6.0-liter V8, two electric motors and a 300-volt battery pack under the rear seat. On its own, the V8's output is 332 horsepower, while the combined output with the electric motors is 379 hp. The sophisticated transmission can act as if it has variable ratios like a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or it can switch over to four fixed ratios for better towing performance. The latter is rated at a respectable 6,100 pounds.
Notable standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar, Bluetooth and a CD/MP3 stereo with steering-wheel audio controls and satellite radio. The uplevel 2HY model adds premium touches like heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, rear parking sensors, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, power front bucket seats, navigation, a rearview camera and upgraded Bose audio with rear seat controls. A sunroof, remote ignition and a hybrid decal package are also available.
On the road, we found that the Silverado Hybrid's power plant is a little too complex for its own good. The horsepower numbers are impressive, but our acceleration testing yielded a disappointing 0-60-mph sprint of 9.2 seconds, which even the regular Silverado's base 4.8-liter V8 might match. There are also some tangible pauses and hiccups in the power delivery thanks to the complex transmission and power plant. It might all be worth the added expense if you simply must get your green-freak on and maximize fuel economy around town, but the less expensive regular V8s offer superior performance and similar highway fuel economy.
Used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid Models
The current second-generation Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid debuted for the 2009 model year.
GM launched its first-generation "parallel hybrid" version of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra in 2005. In this mild-hybrid design, the electric motor was housed within the transmission flywheel assembly and provided only engine cranking, battery charging and power for accessories. The 5.3-liter V8 automatically shut down when the truck came to a stop, and electric power restarted the engine when the brake pedal was released. Three auxiliary batteries were mounted under the rear seat to store and provide power. Several AC outlets were mounted in the bed, making this truck an attractive choice for contractors who often need to plug in electrical devices on the job. Availability of the first-generation Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid was limited, but it remained on sale through 2007.
Read the most recent 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid page.