Although the first-generation GMC Sierra 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. The later version of the Sierra Hybrid, however, was far more technologically advanced. Its dual-mode hybrid system 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 greater acceleration is called for, remaining permanently active above 29 mph.
However, the Sierra Hybrid was a niche product. Despite its output, that high-tech powertrain delivers lackluster and nonlinear acceleration, and while it can yield up to 40 percent better city mileage than a standard V8 Sierra, highway mileage is only slightly improved. Overall, the Sierra Hybrid's high cost, powertrain quirks and limited fuel economy gains made us question its value for many potential buyers when it was sold as a new vehicle. Those same criticisms apply on the used market as well.
Used GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid Models
The second-generation GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid was produced from 2009 through 2013. Apart from a new navigation system for 2012, there were no notable changes throughout these years. This full-size crew cab pickup came in one loaded trim level, with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive.
Like its Chevy Silverado Hybrid twin, this high-tech truck employed a 6.0-liter V8, two electric motors and a 300-volt battery pack under the rear seat. The sophisticated transmission could operate like a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or switch over to four fixed ratios for better towing performance. Official combined power output is 379 horsepower, and the maximum tow rating is a respectable 6,100 pounds.
Notable standard features included 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, OnStar, Bluetooth and a CD/MP3 stereo with steering-wheel audio controls and satellite radio. Option highlights included rear parking sensors, a sunroof, a hard bed tonneau cover, leather upholstery, a navigation system, a rearview camera and power-adjustable pedals.
In reviews, we found the Sierra Hybrid's hybrid powertrain a little too complex for its own good. The horsepower rating is impressive, but this truck's acceleration is not. At the test track we saw a disappointing 0-60-mph sprint of 9.2 seconds, a time that even the regular Sierra's base 4.8-liter V8 could likely match. There are also some noticeable pauses and hiccups in the power delivery thanks to this complex powertrain. It might be worth the added expense if you simply must maximize your fuel economy around town, but the less expensive, less complex regular V8-powered trucks offer superior performance and similar highway fuel economy.
GM launched its first-generation "parallel hybrid" version of the GMC Sierra (and Chevy Silverado) 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 GMC Sierra Hybrid was limited, but it remained on sale through 2007.