2009 marks the commercial debut of a pickup that is about eight months late to the party—the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, the first full-size hybrid pickup on the market, which hits dealer lots less than a year after gas was selling for $4 a gallon. Of course, we’re not saying that prices won’t go up again anytime soon.
Given the tough demands that most people place on their trucks (towing boats, hauling heavy cargo, etc.), it's hard to imagine that a hybrid powerplant would be up to a task normally accomplished by hulking V-8 engines. However, the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado's mix of gasoline and electric power took the automotive press by storm, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com hold nothing but praise for Chevrolet's green monster.
The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is powered by a true hybrid system, featuring both gasoline and electric power. Car and Driver says that the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid "uses a 6.0-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation and variable cam timing mated to a 300-volt electrical system," which includes a pair of electric motors. The combination means that "you can get it up to 30 mph without burning a drop of gas," according to The Detroit News. The system is also tuned very well and almost imperceptible, as ConsumerGuide mentions that the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid "accelerates from a stop and passes much like a conventional model, but a faint surge is felt and heard when it shifts between full electric and gasoline operation." And don't think that the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid sacrifices performance in the name of fuel economy, as The Detroit News points out "it can still tow up to 6,100 pounds and the bed can handle just more than 1,400 pounds."
The secret to the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid's success is its complex transmission, which actually comprises several "standard" transmissions. Car and Driver reports that the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid "will feature GM's innovative new dual-mode transmission, which is basically two transmissions in one: a CVT-style 'electrically variable transmission' for low-load driving conditions and a four-speed automatic for towing and higher-load driving conditions." The Detroit News is particularly taken by GM's transmission, which they say is "perhaps the masterpiece to this vehicle's powertrain." J.D. Power reviewers note that the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid "will be offered with rear- or 4-wheel drive."
While the sticker price is a bit higher on the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid than a typical Silverado, the difference will likely be made up in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle. According to the official EPA estimates, the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid should get 21 mpg city and 22 highway in 2WD mode, while the 4WD earns 20 mpg ratings for both city and highway driving. The Detroit News points out that it's "a 40 percent jump in fuel economy" versus a conventional Silverado.
Trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid aren't usually renowned for their handling, but the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid proves to be surprisingly livable. Also on the positive side, Autoblog contends that "the electric power steering felt surprisingly normal, with just the right weighting for a vehicle carrying this much mass." The only noteworthy criticism comes from The Detroit News, which says "the brakes seemed too sensitive" on then Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, but that can most likely be attributed to the regenerative braking system the hybrid employs.