Thanks to its ability to carry tons of camera gear and power laptop computers on big road-test shoots, the Silverado was called into support-vehicle service on many occasions. On some of these shoots, walkie-talkie battery usage can be prolific. During a lunch stop (we'd been up since long before sunrise), the Silverado's 110-volt outlets recharged all our walkie-talkie batteries. When outlet power falls below a prescribed level, the engine will automatically start up to recharge the 42-volt batteries--this is a cool feature.
Unfortunate, though, is how the truck reacts after a stop, when the Hybrid's engine shuts off--the delay between startup and acceleration is unnerving. Because the engine must start up before it can accelerate, if you happen to be too quick from brake to throttle, you'll be gifted with a hard slam into gear and a jerky takeoff. The Hybrid forced us to relearn how to drive in traffic, making sure not to execute any fast takeoffs or quick starts. The smoothest drivers made sure to release the brake early and feather the throttle the instant before power was necessary. Nonetheless, the Hybrid's acceleration felt clumsy and dangerous at times, especially on hills (imagine driving an automatic that reacts like a vehicle with a clutch) when the truck wants to roll back before first gear engages.
One editor spent hours packing up the Silverado Hybrid with his Honda CR250, which, ultimately, after roughing the Silverado through the backcountry, revealed a weakness with the motorcycle strapped to the tiedowns behind the cab, front tire against the cargo bed's front rail: That tire bent the bed's front bed rail.
Further, during hot-weather driving (meaning A/C on max), the engine stays running at stop signs because of the power draw. On milder days with the A/C on, expect to feel a drop in cool air when the engine shuts off at stop signs. GM claims this has been corrected on newer models.
After a mostly trouble-free year in our long-term Silverado Hybrid, we're still struck by the bipolar aspect of the package. Its strengths are obvious--carrying, hauling, working. But as a hybrid, are the trade-offs worthwhile? The Hybrid is GM's attempt at crawling before it can tap dance, which Honda and Toyota have just about mastered. The Silverado Hybrid is a good first shot in the hybrid market--but it's still just a truck that gets about 1.5-mpg-better fuel economy than its competitors.