2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid Review

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The Car Connection
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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 31, 2009

The GMC Sierra Hybrid is pricey, but it shows that using less fuel doesn't have to come with any day-to-day penalty.

The editors of TheCarConnection.com have driven the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid, along with other hybrid-powertrain vehicles. And to bring the most useful information to green vehicle shoppers, TheCarConnection.com has also highlighted insightful observations from other top review sources.

Following in the footsteps of the GMC Yukon Hybrid launched last year, a new Hybrid version of the GMC Sierra bows for 2009.

Unless the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is fitted with the optional hybrid decal package, observers will likely not notice it as different from a standard GMC Sierra. That's not a bad thing; the Sierra was completely redesigned, alongside the Chevrolet Silverado, for 2007, and because of its conservative but tasteful style, it still looks fresh today. Hybrid-only features include a tonneau cover over the pickup box that provides a 5 percent reduction in aerodynamic drag and better fuel economy. Although the Sierra is offered in countless configurations, the roomy crew cab body style is the only one available for the Hybrid.

The new powertrain in the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is completely different from what was last offered a couple of years ago. The new two-mode hybrid powertrain mates an all-aluminum 6.0-liter V-8 (with variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management) to an electrically variable transmission (EVT) that utilizes two electric motor/generators and four fixed-ratio gears. A 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack stores electricity for the system, which altogether is rated at 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque—bringing acceleration similar to that of the standard Sierra's 5.3-liter V-8. But most noteworthy, the powertrain brings EPA fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg city, 22 highway with rear-wheel drive, 20/20 mpg for four-wheel drive.

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While a Hybrid model might be expected to carry a reduced tow rating, the Sierra Hybrid can pull a very respectable 6,100 pounds in its two-wheel-drive version.

The 2009 GMC Sierra has smooth, responsive performance, even though it's 300 pounds heavier than the standard version. The system's dual electric motors, each rated at 81 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, give the Hybrid great off-the-line oomph, and the system will power the truck in eerie silence at speeds of up to 25 mph and beyond, without the V-8 firing up. Braking is very capable, and of course a regenerative feature helps charge the battery system. During our tests, the hybrid system routinely moved the pickup on battery power alone to 25 mph and beyond in eerie EV-mode silence. When needed, the V-8 starts up seamlessly and delivers power through the transmission.

Just like on the outside, there's very little to distinguish the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid from a standard Sierra V-8 truck. The stylish instrument panel layout, great front seating, and nice, sturdy materials inside continue to impress TheCarConnection.com. The only slight sacrifice of the Hybrid model is in the backseat area of the Crew Cab, where the battery pack doesn't permit the under-seat storage of the regular models.

Along with front side airbags, the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid includes head-curtain side airbags that cover both rows of seating, plus GM's StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation. Crash tests on the Sierra yield top five-star results from the federal government.

Serious truck users are likely to find the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid's price a little steep; it starts close to the $40,000 mark and stretches up to about $50,000. It does come well equipped, however, with dual-zone air conditioning, power windows, remote keyless entry, and MP3-capable CD audio with steering-wheel controls. An upgrade package includes leather seating, rear parking assist, and power adjustable pedals.


2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid


The tasteful styling of the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid should be in fashion for years to come.

In an effort to bring eco-friendliness to the pickup truck market, GM introduces the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid, which began arriving on dealer lots in January. The relatively conservative styling on the GMC Sierra Hybrid wins praise from reviewers for not flaunting its green credentials while at the same time keeping the tougher-than-thou elements to a minimum.

Unlike the conventional GMC Sierra, which is available in an almost endless array of cab, bed, and trim configurations, the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is "offered only in the crew-cab configuration, with four full-size doors," reports Cars.com. While this may make it a bit more difficult to park than some of GMC's other cab styles, MotherProof reviewers point out that it "offers plenty of space for the kids." The GMC Sierra Hybrid is mechanically very similar to the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid (covered in a separate review), and Automobile Magazine notes "the distinction [between the two] is all in exterior design. Each of these twins has its own front fenders, hood, grille, and front fascia." In terms of distinguishing the GMC Sierra Hybrid from other Sierras on the road, Autoblog mentions that the Sierra Hybrid sports "the requisite chin spoiler and tonneau cover to help reduce aerodynamic drag." Otherwise, it can be quite difficult to differentiate between a conventional GMC Sierra and the GMC Sierra Hybrid.

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid benefits from GM's 2007 redesign of its entire truck lineup, and it shows, especially in the interior design. The upscale layout and pleasing aesthetics of the GMC Sierra Hybrid's interior prove that GM designers know how to craft a competitive cabin. Cars.com reviewers point out that "the Sierra Hybrid adopts the boxier of the Sierra's two available interiors, with a flat cowl that spans the gauges and center controls." ConsumerGuide, meanwhile, joins a chorus of other reviewers in mentioning that "the gauges are easy to see and read." Another positive for the 2009 GMC Sierra, according to ConsumerGuide, is the fact that "the available navigation system absorbs some audio controls but doesn't complicate their use."

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid


The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrids can handle the daily rigors of life as a pickup truck, with ease.

GMC's Sierra Hybrid debuted to a substantial amount of skepticism about the viability of a hybrid pickup truck, but after a few test drives, the automotive press appears to be sold. Indeed, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid can hold its own against conventionally powered competitors when it comes to towing and hauling.

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid features a true hybrid system, which Cars.com says "includes a 6.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine, coupled with an electric drive motor that can move the vehicle on its own up to 30 mph." ConsumerGuide remarks that the GMC Sierra Hybrid "accelerates from a stop and passes much like a conventional model," while only "a faint surge is felt and heard when it shifts between full electric and gasoline operation." According to Automobile Magazine, the total system "output is 332 hp at 5100 rpm and 367 lb-ft of torque at 4100, a slight reduction from the standard" 6.0-liter engine. However, despite the slightly lower output, MotherProof notes that the GMC Sierra Hybrid "can tow up to 6,100 pounds." The impressive GMC Sierra Hybrid packs quite a punch for a pickup, as Automobile Magazine reports that "this truck accelerates to sixty mph in 9.7 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 17.3 seconds at 85 mph."

The secret to the GMC Sierra's success is its transmission, an innovative and very capable two-mode system, based on a concept originally developed by GM for use on hybrid city buses. Car and Driver reviewers observe that the "sophisticated two-mode transmission...allows the engine to operate at peak efficiency all the time," and ConsumerGuide notes it "is responsive" in daily driving situations. The transmission comprises two distinct units, according to Car and Driver; it "essentially combines continuous variability with a four-speed automatic; the infinite gear ratios are efficient for most driving, with the exception of steady-state (think freeway) operation." Like most pickups—and unlike most hybrids—the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is available with either rear- or four-wheel drive.

The gas/electric propulsion system and dual-mode transmission team up to offer remarkable fuel economy for the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid. According to EPA estimates, the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid should get 21 mpg city and 22 highway in 2WD mode, while the 4WD versions should return 20 mpg city and 20 on the highway. Autoblog credits part of that fuel economy boost to the fact that "the 6.0L V-8 also features Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), which allows it to run on as few as four-cylinders when not under load." Based upon the EPA numbers and the GMC Sierra Hybrid's fuel capacity, Cars.com calculates that "two-wheel-drive models have a cruising range of more than 500 miles between fill-ups."

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid surprises more than a few reviewers with its decent handling characteristics. Car and Driver reports that "the steering is now electrically boosted and the brakes are of the regenerative type, a setup that offers less pedal travel and a mushy, spongy feel. These traits are definitely noticeable, but were you to buy one of these trucks, we think you'd get used to them rather quickly." According to MotherProof, the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid also features "regenerative braking to capture energy from braking and coasting and store it in the battery for future use."

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid does a commendable job of blending top-notch comfort and quality with the practicality necessary of a pickup truck.

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is available exclusively in a four-door, crew-cab configuration, thanks to the space requirements of the battery pack that rests under the rear seat. While that may extend the dimensions of the GMC Sierra Hybrid beyond the easy-to-park range, it does mean that you'll find plenty of space for both passengers and cargo inside the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid.

Inside the cabin of the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid you'll find a comfortable seating arrangement that features a "choice of 5- or 6-passenger seating," according to J.D. Power reviewers. TheCarConnection.com's research reveals that the interior dimensions are accommodating for all but the tallest passengers, as ConsumerGuide finds "generous headroom [and] ample legroom" for rear passengers. Cars.com also states that the GMC Sierra Hybrid includes "a back seat comfortable for three adults," while ConsumerGuide reports "ample room for adults" up front, although "both the bucket and bench seats lack side support in fast turns but are firm and comfortable" otherwise. Overall, MotherProof reviewers are "surprised by the level of comfort in the interior," which contrasts sharply with the "no-frills finishes" of the pickups of the 1980s and '90s.

All pickups boast evident utility in the form of a bed, which is covered on the 2009 GMC Sierra, but not all of them offer much cargo space inside the cabin. Fortunately, the GMC Sierra features an intelligent interior design with lots of storage nooks and crannies. ConsumerGuide reports that, "in front, the bucket seats come with a roomy console bin, while the bench seat is available with a flip-down center armrest that doubles as a large storage bin." MotherProof also notes that "cupholders are everywhere, and the center console is large enough to house a good-sized purse [or] CDs." Behind the cabin, Automobile Magazine mentions the standard "six-foot bed (which has an actual floor length of 69.3 inches)."

The pricey GMC Sierra Hybrid doesn't offend with its interior materials and absolutely excels in terms of build quality. ConsumerGuide reports that the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid's "interior materials are a cut above the pickup norm, even though most surfaces are hard plastic." Build quality, as evidenced by the near-total lack of road noise, is outstanding. Automobile Magazine says that the GMC Sierra Hybrid's powertrain is "notably quieter overall than any conventional powertrain," while ConsumerGuide observes that "wind noise intrudes only above 60 mph."

Ride quality can be quite abrupt and jarring in pickups, but the Sierra Hybrid is an exception. ConsumerGuide praises the "comfortable, compliant ride" and notes "there's less reverberation over bumps than in most pickups." Car and Driver remarks that new "hydraulic body mounts were developed specifically to cope with the weight of the battery pack-stored under the second-row seat-and are meant to improve the ride over washboard bumps and mitigate frame flex." Most reviewers agree they're "a welcome improvement."

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid


The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid provides the same impressive protection as GM’s other full-size pickups.

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid boasts top scores from both of the major crash-test authorities, as well as a commendable list of safety features. It's hard to find a safer pickup truck on the road.

As part of its safety research, TheCarConnection.com gathered crash-test ratings for the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid from both NHTSA and the IIHS, the two primary testing agencies in the United States. The GMC Sierra Hybrid excelled in tests with both agencies, earning the IIHS's highest possible rating, "good," in the frontal offset impact category. No IIHS data is available for side impacts. In NHTSA testing, the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid earned perfect five-star ratings for both the driver- and passenger-side front impact tests. The GMC Sierra Hybrid also earned five stars for side impact.

In addition to its very strong crash-test ratings, the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid pickup features all the latest safety equipment you'd expect on a GM truck. Cars.com reports that, on the GMC Sierra Hybrid, "four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are standard, as are side curtain airbags for both rows of seats." The Detroit News mentions that "electronic stability control and OnStar" are both standard, while J.D. Power reviewers state that a "tire-pressure monitor" is also included on the base GMC Sierra Hybrid.

Another safety positive for the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is the surprisingly good visibility, especially for a pickup. ConsumerGuide reports that "visibility is generally good," but a few trouble spots exist toward the rear. Fortunately, J.D. Power says "a rearview camera will also be available" on the GMC Sierra Hybrid to help drivers cope with those blind spots when reversing.

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2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid


The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid boasts more than enough technology to keep the working crowd content.

The standard features on the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid shouldn't disappoint, even at these price levels, while the available options package makes this eco-friendly GMC model a true luxury pickup.

The 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid is available in just one trim, which comes rather well equipped to compensate for some of the hybrid markup. Cars.com reports that "standard amenities include automatic climate control, steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity." J.D. Power, meanwhile, notes the standard features list on the GMC Sierra Hybrid includes "air conditioning, cruise control, cloth upholstery, heated power mirrors," full power accessories, and an AM/FM/CD player. OnStar and XM Satellite Radio are both included as standard, and the XM transmits live traffic updates as well. These features are enough for ConsumerGuide to rank the 2009 GMC Sierra Hybrid "among the best large pickup trucks for refinement and available features."

When it comes to optional upgrades, TheCarConnection.com's research shows that choices are rather limited for the GMC Sierra Hybrid. Automobile Magazine reports that "the $6135 premium trim package adds leather trim, power front bucket seat adjusters, a center console, a Bose sound system with navigation, a hard bed cover, and several minor convenience items." The only other available feature, according to Automobile Magazine, "is a $995 moonroof" that can be outfitted to the GMC Sierra Hybrid.

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April 21, 2015
For 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid

General Motors got it right with this truck, by offering a working truck with style, comfort and fuel economy without breaking the bank account.

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I have now owned my 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab 4x4 Hybrid since August 2014 and has been for me the perfect truck. It has surpassed my previous truck which was a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado Extended Cab Z71... + More »
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