On the one hand, everyone who knows anything about pickups knows what the Chevrolet Silverado is and what its competition is. On the other hand, it’s completely fair to say there is no competition for the 2009 Chevrolet Silverdo Hybrid, save for its first cousin the GMC Sierra Hybrid. The Silverado/Sierra is the only full size hybrid pickup on the market.
Physically, the Silverado Hybrid looks just like any other Silverado, and there haven’t been any major body changes since the 2007 model year. Likewise, the trims and features are basically the same and you can get the Silverado Hybrid in either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
It’s what you can’t see that makes the Silverado Hybrid different.
Underneath the hood of the Silverado Hybrid is a 6.0 liter, 332 horsepower, gasoline powered V8 engine matched with a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. But that’s just the start.
There are also two electric motors. The Silverado Hybrid can run on electric power only for speeds up to 30 miles per hour. During this time, one electric motor operates as the car engine and the other as the generator.
Above 30 miles per hour, the gasoline motor kicks in. When you stop, the gasoline motor shuts off and one of the electric motors will start it again instantly at the proper time. All this happens by computer, without input from the driver.
The transmission, or should I say transmissions, are also different with the Silverado Hybrid. The gasoline engine transmission has several sets of gears and chooses one based on the usage of the electric motors. Each of the electric motors also has multiple gear sets, also used automatically depending on the mode of operation.
This hybrid technology, which Chevrolet and GMC call the “two-mode hybrid system,” is actually the combined work of General Motors, Daimler, Chrysler LLC and BMW. General Motors uses it on their pickup trucks and front-wheel drive cars while the other three companies have concentrated on developing the application for two-wheel drive luxury cars and SUVs.
Aside from the use of the electric engines, there are a number of other fuel-saving technologies in the Silverado Hybrid. Foremost among them is probably the ability of the Silverado Hybrid (and other Silverado V8 engines) to operate on as few as four cylinders when cruising.
The Silverado Hybrid also has variable valve timing or VVT. Valve timing trades torque for fuel efficiency. By using VVT, you get the torque when you need it and the fuel efficiency when excessive toque is unnecessary.
All of this really works, giving the 2009 Silverado Hybrid a 40 percent advantage in fuel efficiency in the city and 25 percent overall. That’s twenty-one miles per gallon city and twenty-two miles per gallon highway with the rear-wheel drive version. You can get this technological marvel at a base price of only $38,020, which is not unreasonable considering the science involved.