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2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid ReviewThe Good
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is the only full-size hybrid pickup on the market, and it’s hard to beat exclusivity.The Bad
A lack of bed options, weak steering and numb brakes are all serious concerns in the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid.
The CarGurus View
You pay more, you get more. You’re certainly paying more with the Silverado Hybrid, but you will be compensated for that expenditure in the way of better fuel economy, luxury features and the comfort of knowing you’re the most ecologically minded contractor on site. Whether or not the cost is worth the gain for you is a personal matter, but we can confidently say the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid is the best full-size hybrid truck on the market.
At a Glance
A hybrid drivetrain coupled with features like Bluetooth, a Bose stereo with XM satellite radio, a backup camera and 18-inch chrome wheels hints at anything but a pickup truck. Add some new aerodynamic enhancements and things only get more confusing. The old idea of a truck as a purely utilitarian purchase hasn’t changed, but our use for it has. Previously, as long as it had a large engine and a larger towing capacity, a truck could be a veritable stripper and people would be happy. Today trucks are used as mobile offices in addition to their more-rugged duties. On top of that, they’re expected to get good gas mileage as well.
We really expect a lot from our trucks.
And Chevrolet has delivered with its Silverado Hybrid. Only small changes show up for 2011, including noise-reducing aerodynamic enhancements and improved voice recognition, but that merely cements its status as the #1 hybrid full-size truck out there. Of course, along with its twin, the GMC Sierra Hybrid, it’s the only hybrid full-size truck out there.
A pair of electric motors team with a 6.0-liter V8 engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for a combination that bests the conventional Silverado in both power and fuel efficiency. That’s 332 hp and a 21/22 mpg rating for those keeping score at home. Chevy contends you’ll be able to accelerate up to 30 mph with electric power alone, although testers have noted a slight surge when switching to gasoline power. The engine will also shut off when stopped, for instance at a red light, and then start again when the accelerator gets depressed. The 300-volt battery is recharged through regenerative braking, which can make the pedal soft but doesn’t negatively impact braking performance. The truck stops fine, it just feels like it won’t.
While the Silverado Hybrid isn’t cheap, it boasts a 40% increase in fuel economy over its conventional cousins. Sadly it no longer qualifies for the $2,200 tax credit to help offset the price of your conscience. However, the hybrid equipment includes an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty that covers the entire hybrid system, including the batteries, and this is on top of 5-year/100,000-mile drivetrain and 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranties.
Ride & Handling
The ride you’ll get with the Silverado Hybrid is similar to that of most pickup trucks – not very good. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages here. Steering is a bit vague here, although that’s to be expected. There’s quite a bit of roll and lean in corners, but this isn’t a race car. Whereas things can get a bit scary over bumps in an empty pickup, here things are a bit more composed thanks to the extra weight of the batteries.
Cabin & Comfort
In an effort to woo buyers with more than just environmental responsibility, Chevrolet loads the Silverado Hybrid up with many standard features. Dual-zone automatic climate controls, heated power mirrors, automatic headlights, a tonneau cover and chrome bumpers are all standard in addition to the premium features mentioned above. Add 4-wheel drive to the mix and you’ll also get a full tow package, bumping up the maximum towing capacity to 6,100 pounds. There’s also an upscale 2HY trim that adds features like a luxury-inspired trim, leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals and a navigation system. Unfortunately the different configurations of the conventional Silverado aren’t available here, as this is solely a 4-door Crew cab with a 5.8-foot bed.
All Silverado Hybrids come standard with dual front, front-side and curtain-side airbags, regenerative 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, daytime running lights and traction and stability control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the 2011 Silverado Hybrid a 5-star rating in all tests excepting rollover resistance and front impacts involving the driver, which garnered a 4-star rating.
What Owners Think
Owners are obviously impressed with the fuel economy of the Silverado Hybrid, and the efforts Chevrolet put into increasing interior luxury have not gone unnoticed either. Lazy steering and numb brakes certainly hurt things, although they’re only slightly worse than in the conventional Silverado. A major complaint is the lack of options with regard to configurations and bed lengths – endless with the conventional Silverado, but severely limited for the Hybrid.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.