Are Hybrid Pickups the Way to Go?


Our friends at recently calculated which are the best for the money, and they were nice enough to include a pickup category as well. Congrats to the winning truck, the Chevy Silverado Hybrid.

Although that may seem a little odd because there are only two (actually one) such trucks on the market, we thought that vehicles with high "efficiency cost ratings," like the Chevy Silverado Hybrid, deserve to be highlighted.

The calculations to determine the top hybrid in each category were simple: Take the EPA combined mpg number and divide it by the base price (MSRP plus destination fees) of a vehicle. Multiply that number by 1,000. The higher the number, the better your lifetime savings. Because the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is about $400 less expensive than its only rival in the segment, the GMC Sierra Hybrid, the Chevy model won by a hair.

Of course, some critics will say the fact that no other manufacturer has a hybrid pickup makes for a hollow victory, but there are other factors. The Silverado Hybrid has four full-size doors (it only comes in a crew cab), has a strong and bulletproof 6.0-liter V-8, can tow 6,000 pounds and carry 1,500 pounds of payload, and can be set up to offer 120-volt outlets to run just about any electric tool at a work site.

And even though the Silverado Hybrid (designated a "dual-mode" hybrid because it uses two planetary gearsets for a wider eCVT and electric assist spread; the system can run as far as one mile up to 25 mph on electric power) had the lowest efficiency cost score of the all the category winners with a rating of 0.50, it did have a vastly better rating than the Chevy Tahoe SUV or BMW 740 Li.

To date, GM has not announced a new hybrid pickup when the 2014 trucks arrive. Of course, that doesn't mean it couldn't make an appearance in 2015 or beyond. But clearly the market has spoken, at least in the truck arena — buyers just don't seem that interested. These trucks created a sales problem, as most dealers had a terrible time trying to sell the premium-priced hybrids, which offered only incremental fuel economy improvements. By our count, by the end of 2012, the Chevy/GMC hybrid pickups sold fewer than 200 units per month nationally.

We should note that although hybrid technology is a good choice for a lot of people, there are other factors to consider. In fact, if you use the same efficiency-cost calculations with other solid fuel economy vehicle choices in the pickup segment, choosing the Chevy or GMC hybrid may not be the way to go.

In other full-size half-ton trucks, the efficiency ratio score (we used mileage data from the EPA) for the Ram 1500 HFE with the 3.6-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic is 0.71, the Ford F-150 3.7-liter V-6 is 0.78 and the base Ram 1500 V-6/eight-speed is 0.85. Additionally, in the smaller truck category the Toyota Tacoma four-cylinder manual scores a 1.24 and the Nissan Frontier four-cylinder manual scores a 1.11. Depending on how you'll be using your pickup, there are plenty of good choices, and no hybrid technology is involved at all.



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