What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid returns unchanged.
It used to be that only the most environmentally conscious buyers and tech-obsessed early adopters were interested in driving a gasoline-electric hybrid. Fast forward a decade and there are more people willing to consider one. There are also more models to choose from, including the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid.
While that evolving mindset is certainly a positive development, not every hybrid-powered model makes sense. This full-size Chevy pickup is one of those that's just plain hard to justify on the basis of both everyday drivability and the long-term bottom line.
Unlike the original Silverado Hybrid launched back in 2005 with an ineffectual "mild" hybrid powertrain, this latest generation is the real deal. Its sophisticated hybrid system, which mates a 6.0-liter V8 with a pair of electric motors for a total output of 379 horsepower, allows this big truck to cruise along in full electric mode, on four or eight cylinders of the gasoline engine, or some combination thereof. Add a few other mileage-boosting tricks, including low-rolling-resistance tires and a tonneau cover that improves the truck's aerodynamics, and the result is a full-size crew cab model that can achieve an impressive EPA rating of 20 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
Unfortunately, the Silverado Hybrid has a couple of significant drawbacks, starting with the hybrid powertrain's performance quirks and an unimpressive 6,100-pound towing capacity. The real deal-breaker, though, is its higher price, which is thousands more than a comparably equipped version with the 5.3-liter V8 under the hood and would take many years of operation to be offset by lower fuel consumption.
While buying a Silverado Hybrid doesn't really pencil out, there are a couple of other alternatives worth considering. The revised 2013 Ram 1500 with the new 3.6-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission is very nearly as fuel-efficient and a good bit more affordable. The same can be said of the 2013 Ford F-150, which also offers much more robust performance and a much higher towing capacity.
All in all, we respect GM's efforts here but simply can't recommend buying a 2013 Chevy Silverado 1500 Hybrid.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid is available only as a crew cab with a 5-foot-9 cargo box, and there are just two trim levels: 1HY and 2HY.
The base 1HY provides 18-inch alloy wheels, a soft tonneau cover for the cargo bed, rear privacy glass, heated mirrors, a locking tailgate, cruise control, full power accessories, remote ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, OnStar emergency communications, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. A six-way power driver seat is optional.
The 2HY adds foglights, power-folding and driver-side auto-dimming mirrors, rear parking sensors, a hard tonneau cover, leather upholstery, six-way power front bucket seats (manual recline), a front center console, power-adjustable pedals, a rear defroster, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a touchscreen navigation system, real-time traffic info and an upgraded Bose audio system with an iPod/USB audio interface. A sunroof is optional.
Powertrains and Performance
Available in a choice of two- or four-wheel drive, the Silverado 1500 Hybrid is powered by a 6.0-liter V8 supplemented by two 60-kilowatt electric motors supplied by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack under the rear seat. On its own, the V8 is rated at 332 hp and 367 pound-feet of torque. GM engineers say that combined output with the electric motors is 379 hp.
The unique transmission houses the electric motors along with three different planetary gearsets and four traditional clutches. It's complex to say the least, but simply put, it maximizes efficiency by adapting itself to current driving conditions.
In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Silverado Hybrid took a leisurely 9.2 seconds to get from zero to 60 mph. By comparison, the new V6-powered Ram 1500 gets it done in 8.0 seconds while the Ford F-150 with the turbocharged EcoBoost V6 does it in 6.5 seconds. The Hybrid's maximum tow rating is 6,100 pounds (5,900 pounds for 4WD), which is between 1,000 and 3,600 pounds less than a Silverado crew cab with the 5.3-liter V8.
EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 21 combined. The city is where this hybrid powertrain shines, with most full-size trucks earning EPA ratings of around 15 mpg city.
Standard safety features on the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance. The 2HY trim gets rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, the 4WD Silverado Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in 144 feet, a below-average performance for trucks of similar heft.
In government crash tests, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid received an overall score of four stars out of five, including four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested a gas-only Silverado 1500 and gave the truck a top score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection, a second-best score of "Acceptable" for side-impact protection and a second-worst score of "Marginal" for roof strength.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Silverado 1500 Hybrid offers a passenger cabin that's generally quiet and solid. Front seat comfort is good, but the rear seat could be improved by a less severe seatback angle. When it comes time to haul stuff, those rear seatbacks fold down to create a flat load floor and the standard tonneau cover keeps prying eyes off whatever goodies you have stored in the bed.
Unlike Ford and Dodge's trucks, interior design is more functional than fashionable, with easy-to-read gauges and straightforward controls that can nevertheless be on the small side. The 1HY has a more no-frills look to it than the nicer 2HY, but even this pricey top trim level looks less classy than the LTZ model offered in non-hybrid Silverados.
On the road, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid has a few idiosyncrasies that take some getting used to. Specifically, the truck will slowly begin to roll forward when powered solely by the electric motors, but then it seems to take off when the gasoline engine kicks in. Some have also complained of awkward surges under hard acceleration and during normal braking.
Speaking of which, brake feel alternates between artificial and frustrating. There's a delayed response to actual braking force, then grabby deceleration upon engagement. Then again, once you get accustomed to the response you can utilize the regeneration mode to help reduce brake pad wear and increase battery power.
The use of a taller rear axle ratio -- a ploy designed to help boost highway fuel economy numbers -- contributes to the truck's seemingly anemic acceleration. The upside is an EPA-estimated 23 mpg highway, which gives the big pickup a theoretical range between fill-ups of better than 500 miles.