Test: 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT
10-18-04 23:49 PT
© 2004 PickupTruck.com
at $2.50 a gallon sucks. Of course we’re talking about the dollars
from my wallet. So it was incredible timing that a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado
1500 LS Extended Cab hybrid pickup landed on the doorstep. Yep, a true,
right off-the-assembly-line, full-size HYBRID American pickup ready to
hit the green streets of the San Francisco Bay Area.
But let’s set some expectations before we proceed with the review.
At the mention of the words hybrid and pickup in the same sentence some
of you may have dreams of Toyota’s Prius dancing in your heads,
but that concept would be incorrectly applied to this particular Silverado.
technological marvel that is the Prius is a ‘true’ hybrid.
That means it has two engines, one electric and one internal combustion,
that move the wheels and power the vehicle depending on driving conditions.
The Silverado on the other hand is a ‘mild’ hybrid. It mates
a 42-volt electric motor with a 5.3-liter Vortec V8 - the same 295 horsepower
/ 330 pounds-feet of torque V8 you can find in a traditional Silverado
- but this electric motor never turns the wheels. Instead the motor is
leveraged to provide juice to internal systems for creature comforts like
XM satellite radio and a dual-zoned climate controlled AC while shutting
off the gasoline engine at full stops to save on fuel and emissions. As
soon as you lift your foot from the brake or apply a light touch to the
accelerator the Vortec powers right back up.
about 10% better fuel economy than a standard Silverado, the hybrid Silverado’s
gasoline savings can’t come close to matching the relatively astronomical
savings of the Prius but it doesn’t sacrifice an ounce of utility
either versus other full-size pickups the way the Prius does against comparable
sedans in its class. In fact you can do a lot more with this truck than
you can with the pickup in your driveway, like use its electric motor
as a generator to provide 120-volt, 20-amp power for up to 32 hours on
a full tank of gas when you run it off the three batteries stowed under
its rear bench seat.
side note: GM recently donated 50 hybrid Silverados after the hurricanes
in Florida to help with cleanup efforts so they could be used by recovery
crews to run electric chainsaws, refrigerators and air-conditioners in
areas without any source of power.
week I drove the Silverado it averaged 16.1mpg in mixed driving conditions,
traveling an average of 70 miles per day. GM claims an EPA rating of 17
miles-per-gallon in the city and 19 on the highway for the hybrid Silverado
while the regular 4WD pickup gets 15mpg in the city and 18 on the highway.
In past experience with the standard truck, I’ve averaged 14.5 to
15 miles-per-gallon, reflecting a real-life noticeable difference in fuel
economy between the two versions.
The hybrid option adds a modest premium of $2500.00 to the sticker price
of the Silverado (it’s around $5000 for a Prius when compared to
other cars in its class). The base price started at $30,195 and by the
time all the other options and luxury items were added, such as the heavy
duty suspension, locking diff rear-axle and heated leather seats, the
truck topped out at $37,743.00.
Some of you
are probably already whipping out your calculators to see how long it
might take to recoup your investment in the hybrid powertrain. This might
help. Regular gas in the Bay Area currently sells for up to $2.55 per
gallon. With the Silverado hybrid wringing out an average 1.6 miles-per-gallon
of gas more than the standard version, you can travel an extra 41.6 miles
farther on a tank of gas, gaining you an extra 2.19 gallons of gas on
a 26-gallon full tank fill-up. That’s a savings of $5.58 per tank.
At this rate, it would take 448 fill-ups to break even or 12-1/2 years
if you averaged 15,000 miles per year. If gas were to jump to $3.00 per
gallon (lord help us!) you could break even in 10.6 years.
So is it
worth it? That’s up to you to decide but it sure felt good to make
even a small contribution towards gaining independence from Mid-East oil
while reducing emissions at the same time – if just for a week.
Go ahead and drive one if you don’t believe me. You will definitely
feel superior to the guy sitting next to you at a stoplight with his internal
combustion engine idling away while you sit in engine silence with the
XM radio cranked up.
And if that’s
not enough to persuade you, just wait until your power goes out and your
neighbors watch you plug your truck in to your house. Priceless.