Road Test
Prepared by the Special Sections department

Published: Friday, February 25, 2005

Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
Chevy Silverado Hybrid: a worthy first step

By Larry Lark
Automotive reviewer

2005 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
Base Price $30,655
As Tested $36,860

Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.

The world is quick to judge. And that judgment is usually cast in a critical or cynical manner rather than heaping on praise or providing the benefit of doubt.

Chevrolet introduces the first full-size pickup to utilize hybrid technology in the United States with its 2005 Silverado LS 1500 half-ton 4WD Extended Cab model. The truck is available in limited quantities in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada and Florida before going nationwide later in the year.

While the Silverado Hybrid isn't without its flaws, this review uses the philosophy that one must learn to crawl before walking and learn to walk before running.

This "mild" hybrid provides an estimated 13-percent savings in fuel economy thanks to a small starter generator located between the engine and transmission. Unlike conventional hybrids, the generator doesn't power the Silverado, but simply generates electricity to supplement power from the truck's Vortec 5300 V8 SFI gas engine.

The generator assists in cranking up the motor, assists the power steering and braking systems, allows automatic engine stops, and powers four 120-volt power outlets for numerous on-the-job tasks.

In addition to the electric starter generator, the Silverado hybrid includes an onboard 20-amp, 2400-watt generator capable of powering assorted construction equipment for more than 30 hours.

The extended cab version accommodates five passengers with ease and delivers a respectable 19 miles per gallon during highway driving.

Currently in its fifth decade and sixth generation of production, Chevy's venerable full-size pickup comes in numerous different body styles, trim levels and options in an effort to put a smile on the face of everyone.

There are regular, extended and crew cab styles, and Work Truck, Base, LS, LT and Z71 trim levels. Options vary from Plain Jane level to my tester, which included XM satellite radio, On-Star, leather seating, aluminum wheels, dual zone automatic air conditioning, and a light-duty power package with locking differential and heavy-duty trailering equipment.

The LS trim level includes dual heated outside rear-view mirrors, rear window defogger, stereo with CD player, remote keyless entry with theft alarm, power windows and door locks, body side moldings and a color-keyed grille.

Other standard amenities include cruise control, tilt wheel steering, intermittent wipers, driver information center, cupholders, tachometer, battery run-down protection and stainless steel exhaust.

This workhorse, which has been softened around the edges to serve as an in-town truck as well, benefits from a four-speed automatic transmission, Autotrac automatic four-wheel drive and four-wheel anti-lock brakes.

With 310 horsepower and a stump-pulling 335 pound-feet of torque, even a heavily loaded Silverado with trailer attached can accelerate and pass without equivocation. And, it handles in traffic and parking lots with grace not usually seen in a full-size bad boy.

Silverado's exterior maintains Chevy's tradition of a split grille front and somewhat boxy middle section tempered by rounded edges. The interior, also in tried-and-true GM fashion, is generic and unimaginative.

This full-size box was put to good use moving leftover Christmas House boxes back to the warehouse for storage, while at the same time acting as an able-bodied people mover with four passengers accompanying me inside the cabin. Several times, volunteers asked if the Silverado were running, because the engine starts and operates so quietly.

Sure, this mild hybrid has its shortcomings, but it's a worthy first step and deserving of praise.

Soon, full-size pickup hybrids will not only be walking, but also running.

Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.

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