San Francisco: By
now most people think when you say “hybrid” assume you are discussing a
fuel-efficient vehicle. That’s because the goal of a hybrid is usually
higher gas mileage. However, as the hybrid phenomenon expands to more
vehicles, the assumption of high fuel efficiency has got to go. Now
think of it as offering improved fuel efficiency, and sometimes not by
Last week in this space
I addressed the mid sized Honda Accord hybrid, which earned 23.7 miles
per gallon. That certainly beat the standard Accord V6, by perhaps 30
percent. Now I have to tell you about the GMC Sierra Hybrid. In this
case, GM claims up to 10 percent better fuel economy. This means that a
two and a half ton truck gets 12.5 miles per gallon instead of 11.5.
That’s hardly compelling.
First off I will say
that as a huge truck, the Sierra is first rate. It has big, comfy seats,
dual climate control, a man-sized, easy to grip interior door handle,
and plenty of carrying capacity. My tester, an extended cab SLE model
with four doors, was capacious, although the rear doors, being of the
suicide variety, were hinged in back rather than in front, which made
entering and loading awkward in narrow spaces.
GMC cleverly added
blinkers to the outside mirrors, battery rundown protection, oil life
monitoring system, and an engine hour meter. This is a serious working
To get that work
accomplished, my Sport Red Metallic tester had a big 5.3-liter V8 engine
tucked under the tall hood. The hybrid system saves gas and reduces
emissions by turning off this hearty power plant, with its
295-horsepower and 335 lb.-ft. of torque, when the truck is stopped. The
starter generator from this system instantaneously restarts the engine
with a touch of the gas. The EPA gave the Sierra fuel economy ratings of
17 city, 19 highway, but my real world mileage was just 12.5 miles per
The hybrid system also
turns the Sierra into a power generating station. There are four plugs
filled with 120-volt current that you can use to run tools as needed
without carrying around a generator. But this hardly produces gas
mileage that lets you sneer at OPEC.
Otherwise, my tester
was a nice, feature loaded, full size pickup. Besides the creature
comforts, such as dual-zone air conditioning, automatic on headlamps,
and the Driver Information Center, there were extra sturdy things, like
the hydroformed frame rails, front recovery hooks, and lots of long-life
engine parts for rugged duty.
My tester was the
four-wheel-drive model, controlled by a little section of buttons on the
dash. You can not only select two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive low
or high, but an Auto setting allows the truck to decide if extra
traction is needed or not.
Being an SLE, a long
list of things was included on my test unit, including chrome styled
steel wheels, body side moldings, and fog lamps outside. Inside, the SLE
gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power locks and windows, remote
keyless entry, and more.
Typical for American
pickups, there are plentiful options available, and my tester had $8,043
worth of them. The Hybrid System itself costs $2,500, and is available
on two and four-wheel drive extended cab models. For a few pennies less
than the hybrid system, my truck had the Safe and Sound package.
This included six-way
power seats, Bose speakers, and the life-saving OnStar system, as well
as the highly entertaining XM Radio.
Leather seats added
$800. Even things like the heated outside folding mirrors and steering
wheel radio controls cost extra. Suddenly, my hybrid pickup wasn’t
generating much better mileage than the non-hybrid version and was still
costing me $39,593.
The GMC Silverado
hybrid is available in limited quantities, and only in selected areas in
California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and Florida this year.
You can assume that if the trucks beat sales expectations more states
will get them next year. By
Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
GMC Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
GMC Silverado hybrid is unique
2005 GMC Sierra Hybrid Pickup Truck
The 2005 GMC Sierra Hybrid Pickup Truck
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