After a few grumblings from nonbelieving truck enthusiasts, our long-term 2004 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid became an asset to all the editors at Truck Trend. With just over 15,000 miles on the odo when it ended its term, our Chevy Hybrid had made several adventures to Death Valley and a few dry lakebeds and was the vehicle of choice for staff photographers. Its on-board generator creating almost endless streams of 110-volt current, the Silverado enabled the staff to charge batteries, view photos on laptops, and create a mini photo studio with the plugs in the Silverado (two bed and two in-cab).

Utilitarian is the key word here; this truck is more suited for the construction owner than the daily driver. That could be why Chevy is making it available in limited supply, mostly through commercial-duty dealerships. With that said, this is one of the better commercial-duty vehicles we've had the chance to push to its limits. But, for the average guy, this isn't the one to take on a long road trip with the family. Because of a unique engine-stop feature (at stoplights and coast-downs), there's an unnerving startup vibration every time you move from brake pedal to throttle. And if you forget it's there, it can be surprising when the engine turns over, and you want to pull out into traffic. According to the logbook, we had more than a few near-misses.

Stopping on an incline also is tricky. You have to brake with your left foot while giving the throttle gas with your right to turn the engine over and have it ready to go when the light turns green. Otherwise, you risk rollback before the driveline catches up.

As to maintenance, our Silverado's on-board computer requested just one service at 8754 miles, when we took the truck in for a checkup, which consisted of a lube, oil and filter change, and tire rotation and inspection. There also were three issues that needed attention. The first was an intermittent low-oil-pressure light; it was inspected and no problems or codes were found. Our second issue was a loose brake pedal; it was tightened with no further problems. Last, we had the dealer replace both rear-door window seals to get rid of a few minor leaks.

We'd hoped for better fuel economy. We were told we should see up to a 13-percent improvement from an equally optioned extended cab, but we couldn't find it. Over the truck's 15,000 miles, we averaged 14.3 mpg, getting a best of 15.2 on several long hauls. Maybe this shouldn't surprise us; many of the Hybrid's benefits will be enjoyed by those who do a lot of start-and-stop city driving, where killing the engine at long street lights or between work sites will help.

We were surprised at how much the hybrid system cost. The laundry list of required add-ons because of the gas/electric system is too long to list here (it's in our March/April 2005 issue), bringing our as-tested price to just under $38,000--a hefty price to pay by any measure. Bottom line: This is all truck, with plenty of electrical benefits, but we never got used to the quirky startups.

2004 Chevrolet Silverado LS Hybrid
Price $37,743
Engine 5.3L OHV 16-valve V-8 plus electric motor
Miles 15,101
EPA, city/hwy 17/19
Observed average mpg 15.67
Observed worst mpg 12.2
Observed best mpg 23.24
Average distance per fill-up223
Average cost per gallon $2.47
Average cost per fill-up $30.95
Number of services 1
Overall service cost $41.32

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