For 2009, the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck is now offered with GM's two-mode hybrid system. Available exclusively in the crew-cab body style, the Silverado Hybrid is expected to use one-quarter less gas than a regular Silverado. The truck hits dealerships in late fall 2008, and competitors include the Dodge Ram, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra.
In passing, the Silverado Hybrid doesn't look much different than its gas-only sibling. Look closer, though, and you'll see a number of exterior changes to the truck. First of all, the thing is plastered with special graphics: "Hybrid" is spelled out on the windshield, rear window and on both sides of the truck. It also gets hybrid badges on the front fenders and the tailgate.
In terms of more substantial changes, the truck rides on low-rolling resistance tires that are wrapped around 18-inch aluminum wheels. To improve aerodynamics, the front air dam is deeper and the truck comes with a tonneau cover.
Depending on the Silverado Hybrid's seating configuration, the crew cab can seat five or six people. Minor changes to the instrument cluster include another hybrid badge on the tachometer and the addition of a gauge that tracks optimal fuel economy. A navigation system is available.
Under the Hood
The Silverado Hybrid's 6.0-liter V-8 teams with GM's Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT), which integrates two electric motors into the transmission housing. Those motors are powered by a 300-volt hybrid battery pack under the backseat. With this system, the truck gains a driving characteristic -- the ability to accelerate on electric power alone -- that you might normally associate with a hybrid like the Toyota Prius.
Additional energy-saving measures include cylinder deactivation and regenerative braking. The rear-wheel-drive Silverado Hybrid can tow up to 6,100 pounds while the four-wheel-drive model can pull 5,900 pounds. Both figures trail the maximum ratings of the regular crew cab by significant margins (10,200 and 10,500 pounds, respectively).
Standard safety features include antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. Side curtain airbags are optional.