It’s admittedly a bit odd to see the engine stop and start on its own, and it’s entertaining to watch the stereo’s LCD display the charging/motor system’s status. But if we ignored the gauges and just drove the damn truck, it felt pretty much like every other truck we’ve driven. The transitions from battery to hybrid mode and hybrid to engine mode feel mostly seamless, though Sean did experience a little drop-out in full-throttle acceleration. But the big question is: Does it tow?
Absolutely. [check out the video below] It’s important to remember that even though this Silverado’s a hybrid, it’s still got a 6.0-liter V8 under the hood ready to ante up when the pulling gets tough. But even with the boat out back, we saw the Silverado entering battery-only and hybrid mode from time to time. And the additional braking energy expended stopping the rig translates into additional battery charge.
Granted, you’re not going to spend a lot of time under battery-only power while towing. With the a/c shut down and a very light foot, we managed to yank the boat along at about 15-20 mph with battery alone. It’s an interesting experience, especially for one standing outside as the truck passes by: It’s so quiet that you can easily hear the trailer’s springs squeaking and frame flexing and creaking.
One wonders why trucks weren’t the first target for hybrid technology. In our experience, many Toolmongers drive more truck than they need on a daily basis in order to retain the capability to haul large loads, tow a heavy trailer for work (or a big-ass boat or camper for fun), or off-road.The Silverado’s complex drive system boosts its EPA-estimated MPG from 14/19 to 20/22 — a pretty significant increase. If you do a good chunk of city driving and put about 15,000 miles a year on your truck, opting for the hybrid would save you around $1,000 annually. Though GM hasn’t released pricing yet — we drove an early production sample — we did hear that the Silverado’s hybrid option would likely ring up a bit lower than the similar option on SUVs, so expect to pay $3,000 to $4,000 for it.
So we guess it’d just about pay for itself in three years. Your mileage may, of course, vary significantly. If you’re easy on the throttle and don’t haul very often, you might see significantly more than 20/22. (Or if you’re Sean, you’ll probably see a lot less.) And the more you drive — and the more the price of gas climbs — the more you save. If you qualify for state or federal hybrid-purchase tax breaks, this might be a no-brainer. At least you can drive to work in the carpool lane.
One thing’s certain: After driving it, there’s no doubt in our minds that the Silverado hybrid retains its capability as a truck — including a 6,000 lb. towing capacity. (Considering GM’s recent experience with hybrid SUVs, this isn’t surprising.) Four-wheel-drive versions will be available later next year.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.