A Review of the Chevy Silverado Hybrid

By dancurranjr On June 7th, 2009

silveradoChevy has created the world’s first 2-mode hybrid truck. It has a battery pack that helps the truck accelerate from a resting stop, when vehicles have their worst gas mileage. The battery packs are recharged by braking the vehicle. Chevy offers the system on many of their vehicles now and it results in huge increases in city gas mileage. The normal crew cab Silverado provides 14mpg city and 19 or 20mpg on the highway. The Silverado Hybrid performs at 21mpg city and 22mpg highway. You’ll be stopping at the gas station less with the 50 percent fuel mileage increase. The highway mileage isn’t nearly as improved because the hybrid system only benefits the car when accelerating at low speeds. I originally thought Chevy would ship the hybrid with a weaker/smaller engine, but this was not the case. The hybrid actually receives the largest engine of the Silverados with a 6.0L V8 that produces 332 horsepower and 367 torque. Don’t worry about pulling your boat either with a 6,100-pound trailering capability.

Upsides: Fantastic fuel mileage combined with Chevy’s extremely capable truck platform produces a very well-rounded package.

Downsides: You can’t really find any Silverado Hybrids. According to Chevy’s Web site, there weren’t any listed in the Houston area. This was supposed to be a slow roll-out, so more are sure to turn up.

Price: $39,015 for 2WD.

Final thoughts: Again, here is another baby step in the right direction for Chevy. The troubled automaker announced their bankruptcy recently, but Chevy will remain around in one form or another. I got the pleasure to drive the Silverado Hybrid to Fort Worth and very much enjoyed the trip. The truck is very responsive and I averaged 20.4 MPG for the entire time I had the truck. I don’t think too many trucks can make the trip to DFW for $30 in gas, especially in crew cab form. The truck also came with many accessories like a soft tonneau cover for the bed and bluetooth for wireless cell connectivity that is included in the price.

SOURCE: The Tribune

Hybrid Chevy Truck Cuts Construction Costs

By dancurranjr On May 16th, 2009

chevy-silveradoOnce in a while you run across a strutting blowhard who drives a pickup truck for the same reason he wears green janitor pants. He wants to look like a serious worker who gets things done. Never mind that he hasn’t held a job for years. And never mind that the cluttered, faded look of his property shows unmistakably that he doesn’t get much done at all. Never mind reality. The guy craves the image.

Image is an important factor for many motorists. It explains why some silver-haired gents with fat wallets drive youthfully sinewed Porsches. It explains why some donors to the Sierra Club will only buy a Toyota Prius, a hybrid car designed to use gas sparingly.

But the green sensitivity that motivates so many hybrid-car sales hardly seems to mesh with the workman image imparted by pickup trucks. So I wondered, why is Chevrolet now bringing out a hybrid version of its full-sized Silverado pickup.

The answer came from Brian Hesse, general manager at Commonwealth Motors in Lawrence. He pointed out that the 2009 Silverado Hybrid pays legitimate dividends to real working men. A lot of them work with trucks that stay largely in limited confines — at a construction site, for example, or around town with a landscaping crew and some gear. Hybrid vehicles, Silverado’s version included, get good gas mileage on city streets, where conventionally powered models burn a lot of fuel.

“I don’t think they’re marketing this to people in Vermont. It’s a contractor’s vehicle,” said Hesse. “Construction companies are doing a lot of work in the cities. They’re seeing 20-plus miles per gallon in the city” with Silverado Hybrid. “That’s great for them.”

Officially, the rear-wheel-drive version of the hybrid Chevy truck is rated at 21 miles per gallon in city driving, and 22 mpg on the highway. The four-wheel-drive Silverado Hybrid drops slightly, to 20 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Both versions come as four-door, crew-cab models that accommodate six people. They include some fuel-saving features as standard equipment, such as low rolling-resistance tires, a front air damn shaped to cut wind resistance, and a soft, removable bed cover over the back to reduce turbulence.

The base sticker price is $39,015 for two-wheel drive, and $41,870 for four-wheel drive. But Hesse noted that current discounts from Chevrolet knock down prices to about $35,000 for some Silverado Hybrids. As of last week, Commonwealth Motors had one available. But overall the hybrid is a limited-production model. You won’t find a lot of them around.

Test-driving a four-wheel-drive Silverado Hybrid, I averaged 20 mpg without even trying, covering 525 miles in seven days, with about three-quarters of that on the highway. I never felt that the big truck lacked pick-up or power. Its combination of a 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine and an electric motor produces 332 horsepower.

Like other hybrids, the Silverado automatically shut down its gasoline engine whenever I stopped — mostly while waiting at intersections. Hybrids obtain such favorable around-town fuel economy primarily because their engines don’t waste gas by idling when the vehicle stands still. What’s more, Chevrolet says its Silverado Hybrid can move as fast as 30 mph on electric power alone, before the gas engine kicks in to share the load. When I drove it, I heard the gas engine start around 12 to 15 mph whenever I launched the vehicle moderately at intersections. The transition was easy to discern, because truck’s electric motor and its four-speed automatic transmission were very audible until the engine started.

But except for the electric motor’s whir at low speeds, nothing in the Silverado’s operation gave away that I was driving a hybrid pickup. Not only did the hauler seem capable of performing legitimate pickup-truck chores, it also conveyed the appropriate, get-it-done image.

In addition to the Chevy Silverado, the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade — big, truck-based SUVs made by General Motors — employ the same hybrid system. If combined sales rise high enough to make the hybrid-drive setup more economical to manufacture, prices might fall. A lower purchase price could make Silverado Hybrid more attractive to more ordinary consumers, suggested Kevin Bihl, general manager of sales and marketing for Bill DeLuca Chevrolet Cadillac in Haverhill.

A run-up in gas prices also might goose interest in the hybrid truck, he noted.

“The phone calls on hybrids at this time last year were frequent,” said Bihl. But that was when gas prices had begun their journey toward $4 per gallon. “The phone calls now are minimal,” with gas at a comfortable, $2 per gallon, he said.

In fact, moderate gas prices, along with cut-rate deals from manufacturers, are bringing more recreational truck users back to dealerships to buy conventionally powered models, reported both DeLuca and Commonwealth.

“Last summer, only the businesses were buying trucks,” said Hesse of Commonwealth, which sells Honda, Kia and Volkswagen vehicles in addition to Chevrolet. “Now I’m seeing a lot of people who like to have a truck around for personal use.”

That especially includes families that play hard, added Kevin Bihl of DeLuca. With seating for five or six and a big, open cargo box, crew-cab pickups are favored for towing snowmobiles, Jet Skis and dirt bikes for family getaways, he illustrated.

Sure, the pickup-truck fashion has passed. A couple of years back, “there were more people buying pickups just because they thought they were good looking,” Bihl conceded. But dealers agree that the core pickup buyers — those returning to showrooms today — remain loyal because the trucks genuinely serve them.

That may include a few fuming blowhards. But most of all, tradesmen, laborers, active homeowners and outdoor recreationalists — people with happy and healthy outlooks — will keep coming back to places like Bill DeLuca and Commonwealth to buy the big haulers, both Bihl and Hesse believe.

And if the price of gas surges, the Silverado Hybrid could become an attractive alternative for more than just contractors who idle around work sites.

SOURCE: Eagle Tribune

2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Truck Review

By dancurranjr On May 14th, 2009

silveradoIn TheCarConnection.com’s Bottom Line review of the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Rex Roy points out that the Hybrid is nearly as capable as its gasoline-only counterparts, able to tow a powerboat (up to 6,100 pounds).

Though we didn’t have anything to tow, testing the Silverado Hybrid’s hauling ability seemed like the natural thing to do. In just the course of a few days, we’d hauled furniture. For one short stretch we had five adults aboard plus and a band’s worth of equipment, including a heavy bass cabinet and PA. The gasoline engine came on earlier and more frequently when loaded down, but the hybrid drive system didn’t flinch and the brakes remained just as confident.

The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid comes with a folding tonneau cover that we’re assuming provides some aerodynamic advantage to the truck. The cover settles into a rail and fits snugly back by the tailgate to create an almost weatherproof seal, with just a small gap remaining when parked, though the whole arrangement still flaps noisily above 65 mph or so. However, there’s no bed liner included, and there are no tie-downs or tie-down places, which meant we had to wedge other items back there to keep things from sliding (and scratching).

Whether fully loaded or not, the Silverado Hybrid moves confidently, thanks to a hybrid system that includes GM’s 5.3-liter V-8 along with dual 81-hp electric motors. A 300-pound battery pack is mounted just below the back seats. In the 4WD form that we tested, the Silverado Hybrid is rated at 20 mpg city, 20 highway, though the 2WD model gets 21 mpg city, 22 highway—yes, that’s in the vicinity of 50 percent better than the gasoline-only versions!

Overall, the Silverado Hybrid has one of the smoothest full-hybrid systems we’ve tested. Taking off at a respectable pace, the Silverado Hybrid launches with electric power only, then the gasoline engine typically turns on at 10 mph or so and moves the truck with more authority. If you’re cruising at a low speed (under 25 mph) the gasoline engine cuts off and the system moves the truck with electric power only.

Roy reported that there are no drivability quirks, and to that I say, it depends on what kind of driving you’re doing. If you’re driving the Silverado Hybrid gently, you might have trouble coming to a smooth stop; the brake pedal feels quite normal at higher speeds, but if you’re slowing down to a gradual stop the pedal becomes very touchy below 15 mph or so, grabbing harder for the last bit; even after a week of driving we were still stopping a few feet earlier than we’d intended, then inching forward. On the bright side, the Silverado Hybrid coasts much better than most hybrids and maintains expressway speeds without twitchiness.

The electric mode is surprisingly robust. We were able to get the electric-only mode to work at up to 29 mph on mostly level ground, and setting the cruise control at around 25 mph—which it surprisingly would allow—we were able to maintain on electric only for more than a mile and a half before the gas engine restarted. With the right light throttle foot, you can creep around quiet subdivision streets without a sputter from the ol’ petrol one.

For those who don’t like long-wheelbase trucks, there’s a bit of disappointment here. The Silverado Hybrid is at this time only available in one body style, the Crew Cab and long bed. It wasn’t the best combination for this city-dweller, and we ended up making lots of three-point turns in the course of the week.

By the end of our time with the Silverado Hybrid, we’d averaged 19 mpg, in mostly city driving with lots of starting and stopping and several cold starts. Even with the Adaptive Fuel Management that most of GM’s full-size trucks now get, we probably would have seen 12 or 13 in a standard Silverado.

At three dollars a gallon for gas, that’s about $7,000 saved on gas alone over five years, assuming about 15,000 a year—and more than 460 gallons of fuel saved annually.

Unfortunately, the Silverado Hybrid is a pricey truck. Our 4WD test rig had only one option—an eight-way seat adjuster—and it stickered at $42,420. That’s about $10k more than the Work Truck (W/T) version of the Silverado Crew Cab but just a few thousand more than a standard Silverado optioned up with the same features. It’ll pay off, all said, in a few years. And that’s before counting the $2,200 federal tax credit that’s still in effect.

We hope GM soon makes a more simply equipped, affordable version of the Silverado Hybrid available to those who want to stock their fleets with these trucks, because altogether the difference they could make is staggering.

SOURCE: Car Connection

GMC, Chevy Hybrid Pickups Deliver Fuel Economy

By dancurranjr On April 23rd, 2009

sierra_hybrid_truck_r350x200Working on the theory that saving fuel is most important in the vehicles that consume the most, General Motors has introduced the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado hybrid pickup trucks.

Already out in Yukon and Tahoe SUVs, the two-mode hybrid was developed in a joint venture with Chrysler and BMW. The idea came about as a scaled-down version of GM’s hybrid bus drive train and is especially well-suited to vehicles that need some towing and hauling capability. The system is distinct from most other hybrid systems because it can automatically run on straight mechanical power as well as pure electric or a combination of the two.

Based on the reengineered Sierra and Silverado pickups that debuted in 2007, the hybrids look the same as the crew cab versions of the base trucks with the exception of some hybrid badges, optional hybrid graphics and a standard tonneau cover that helps out aerodynamics. The battery pack is underneath the rear seat, and the hybrid drive unit is about the same size as the transmission it replaces. It contains two compact electric motors (one reverses field to generate power) and four mechanical gears.

The two-mode hybrid system sees the most advantage in city driving, so GM planned an all-city driving route as the first demonstration for the press. Starting off in a four-wheel-drive Sierra rated at 20 mpg n in both city and highway driving, I clocked an indicated average of 22.3 mpg over approximately 75 minutes of driving.

The small print in the EPA ratings do say 16 to 24 mpg is the “expected range for most drivers.” I was driving conservatively, but not to the extent of holding up traffic. My driving partner for the day nearly duplicated my efforts on the return trip with a 22 average mpg reading.

Like other hybrids, the engine shuts off when the vehicle is stopped so as not to idle unnecessarily. When you start moving again, the hybrid pickups are capable of driving up to a stated 30 mph on electric power alone. The gasoline engine starts up automatically and seamlessly when it is needed.

As I had experienced previously in a GMC Yukon hybrid, it was difficult to start moving at a normal rate without the engine kicking in. However, once it was rolling with a steady throttle input, the engine would turn off and we were able to run up to around 28 mph on electric power for a quarter mile or so at a time. Above that, engine power would do the driving duties.

Ideally, at the 35 mph cruising speeds we were getting, the truck would run on hybrid power, a combination of gas engine and electric drive, but this seemed hard to maintain unless we were on a longer stretch at steady speed. When you back off the accelerator and coast, the batteries start recharging. The 6.0-liter V-8 engine will also automatically cruise in four-cylinder mode for extra fuel savings.

Next, two Sierra and Silverado hybrids were hooked to trailers and others were loaded with 800 pounds in their beds. We took a drive towing a 5,400-pound Sea Ray boat with inertia brakes on the trailer. The hybrid was able to pull the boat in electric mode up to 15 mph. When briskly accelerating from a stop, the hybrid felt especially potent.

I asked lead development engineer John Turzewski what was the hybrid drive’s equivalent to first gear.

“You have infinite gear ratios,” he said “The 6.0-liter will do zero-to-60 in 8.4 seconds, plus you get the additional assist of the electric motors, which is instantaneous.”

In that regard, the hybrid might even be better for towing than a conventional truck, not to mention more fuel efficient. The short towing test loop resulted in a quite respectable indicated 15 mpg.

The Silverado and Sierra hybrids do deliver as promised, and the hybrid drive functions in a silent, seamless manner. However, their advantage can only be used to its full potential in a fairly narrow set of circumstances. Extensive city driving, perhaps as a delivery truck or a longer stop-and-go commute are some areas where the hybrids would excel in efficiency. On short trips, especially in cold weather, you won’t see any savings over a similar gas-only pickup with cylinder deactivation, as the engine must be fully warmed up before the hybrid drive starts functioning.

Yukon and Tahoe hybrid SUVs hit the market last year only fully loaded at upper-end sticker prices; GM has made the price of admission for the pickups more affordable with a decently equipped package starting at $38,995, including destination. Probably not low enough to save money in the long run at today’s gas prices, but it’s still a compelling product and an impressive engineering achievement.

SOURCE: Search Chicago

Sierra, Silverado Take Hybrid Trucks to Next Level

By dancurranjr On April 11th, 2009

silveradoWhat kind of idiot builds a 20-mpg hybrid pickup truck? Everybody knows that hybrids are 40-mpg-plus small cars like the Toyota Prius.

As often happens when you look beyond the obvious, what “everybody knows” is wrong.

Switching from a conventional pickup to the new 2009 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra hybrid pickup actually saves more gasoline than trading a fuel-efficient compact car for a Prius.

Add the fact that automakers sell millions of pickups annually and hybrid pickups start to look smart, despite their high cost.

Using the EPA’s calculations, here’s how the numbers add up:

A pickup owner will save about 181 gallons of gasoline annually by switching from the most fuel-efficient conventional pickups – the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra – to a hybrid Silverado or Sierra.

That compares with saving 168 gallons by driving a Toyota Prius rather than the most fuel-efficient conventional compact cars, the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, Kia Rio or Toyota Corolla.

Thirteen gallons a year won’t save the polar ice caps or end America’s oil dependency, of course.

Various pieces of hybrid technology will find their way into every type of vehicle over the next few years as automakers increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.

Unless you think pickups will join the polar bear on the endangered species list – and if you feel that way, don’t share it with a farmer, carpenter, gardener or the host of small-businesspeople who need pickups – the question becomes not whether to use hybrid tech in pickups, but how to do it well.

The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew cab pickups do it well, despite a few shortcomings.

They combine GM’s proven 6.0-liter V8 engine with the slick dual-mode hybrid system GM developed with BMW, Chrysler and Daimler. The system dramatically improves fuel economy without reducing towing or payload capabilities.

Prices for the hybrid pickups start at $38,020 for a rear-drive Silverado and $38,390 for a rear-drive Sierra. Four-wheel drive models start at $41,170 for the Silverado and $41,540 for Sierra.

Both hybrids come only in four-door crew cab models and cost about $4,000 more than comparable non-hybrid models.

I tested a nicely equipped four-wheel drive $41,445 Silverado and a loaded four-wheel drive $47,675 Sierra. All prices exclude destination charges.

The EPA rates the four-wheel drive hybrid pickups I tested at 20 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Rear-drive models scored 21 mpg city and 22 mpg on the highway.

Those figures beat other full-size pickups by a whopping 6 to 8 mpg in the city and 3 to 5 mpg on the highway.

Over more than a week of driving that included highway trips and plenty of city driving, the Silverado and Sierra I tested matched or slightly exceeded the EPA’s projections.

The hybrid system functioned smoothly, routinely shutting the engine off and powering the trucks in all-electric mode at speeds up to about 30 mph on surface streets.

The system’s ability to provide power at highway speeds – unique to GM’s pickups and SUVs, and the reason the automaker calls it a two-mode hybrid – allowed the V8 to shut down four cylinders in steady highway cruising at up to 70 mph.

That’s the key to the improved highway fuel economy. Most hybrid systems only work in city driving, making the system dead weight in the highway runs the EPA says account for around 45 percent of most Americans driving.

The hybrid pickups can tow up to 6,100 pounds and offer plenty of passenger space in their roomy crew cabs.

The battery pack under the rear seat eliminates the ability to fold the seat up to increase interior cargo space, but the trucks’ functionality and comfort are otherwise unchanged from GM’s conventional pickups. The lid for the door to the upper of the trucks’ two gloveboxes was slightly misaligned, but fit and finish were otherwise fine.

The engine shut-off and four-cylinder modes function imperceptibly, with no vibration to tell the driver the hybrid system is at work.

Brake feel, however, is poor. The pedals feel stiff and provide very little feedback, making it difficult to modulate them for smooth stops. The electric power steering felt heavy at low speeds and could also use further refinement.

The fuel economy is unbeatable, however, and the ability to drive a 5,000-pound-plus all-wheel drive crew cab pickup as an electric vehicle for blocks at a time elevates the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups to a level where they simply have no peer.

SOURCE: Modesto Bee